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This report has been edited and the presentation updated to take account of new information obtained since it was originally published. Thanks to Cllr Dinah Barry for help in obtaining the new information. (The original version can be viewed here.)

merkur slots show interior

How Intergame announced the launch of a "rash" of Merkur Slots arcades

In July last year a trade journal serving the "coin-op amusement, casino and igaming industries" reported that a German company was opening a "rash of new UK arcades" using the Merkur Slots brand name. It now turns out that one of the town centres where the rash will be breaking out is Palmers Green, and some locals are not at all "amused" about the prospect of the new arcade.

The premises where Merkur Slots is planning to open a new branch is 292/292A Green Lanes N13 5TW, in the same block as the former Store 21. Its last tenant was a betting shop. A small notice was attached to the outside of the building in December, notifying passers-by that Cashino Gambling Ltd were applying for a Bingo Premises Licence and giving a deadline of 27 December last year for objections.

At the time of writing it is known that planning permission has been obtained but it is unclear whether the Bingo Premises Licence has been granted.

Residents raise the alarm

merkur slots exterior

The exterior of the Palmers Green arcade - from the planning documentation (click on the image to enlarge)

Palmers Green Community has been sent a copy of an email to councillors in Palmers Green and Southgate Green wards from a group of residents concerned about the plan to open what will clearly not be a "Bingo Premises", but rather a gambling arcade. They claim that the notice attached to the empty shop did not meet the specifications laid down by the council and are therefore requesting advice from the councillors about how to challenge the licensing decision. They also point out that the period during which objections could be lodged was at a time when Covid-19 cases were particularly high and people were staying at home.

"Dear Councillors..."

In their email to councillors the residents state that "The majority of local people are still unaware that Palmers Green shopping centre will be subjected to a 24-hour slot machine arcade with bright neon signs on the outside, under the guise of an application for ‘Bingo’, which is highly misleading."

They attach photographs as evidence that the notice did not meet Enfield Council's specifications: it was printed on white, not pale blue, paper using a font size smaller than the minimum required 16 point.

As regards the effect on the town centre, the residents say that four betting shops is already more than enough:

"With unemployment and youth disengagement at the highest level it has been for years, it is irresponsible for Enfield Council to give its approval to a 24-hour gambling centre. This is likely to profit at the expense of those in society who least can afford it, whilst increasing the likelihood of antisocial behaviour and problem gambling.

"As part of the ‘New Local Plan,’ Enfield was tasked with supporting the community in regenerating our shopping area with innovative and creative ideas, not allow our once thriving High Street to deteriorate into a string of betting shops and amusement arcades. This kind of establishment signals the decline of an area, not regeneration. It will be detrimental to the plans to re-imagine Palmers Green and make it an attractive place to shop and relax."

Where are we now with the applications?

bingo licence applicationThe planning application for a change of use of the premises from betting shop (Sui Generis) to an adult gaming centre (Sui Generis) was granted on 29th January (reference 20/03849/FUL). A separate application for the installation of 3x internally illuminated fascia signs and 1x non-illuminated fascia sign (reference 20/03850/ADV) was granted on the same date. (To see the applications and related documents go to the planning register and use the search function.)

Separate to these planning applications is an application for a Bingo Premises Licence. In addition to the (possibly non-compliant) notice on the premises, an advert, in particularly small print, was carried by the Enfield Independent during the first two weeks of December 2020. (This is reproduced here enlarged and rearranged into two columns for legibility.)

At the request of concerned residents of Winchmore Hill ward, Cllr Dinah Barry has made some enquiries with council officers. Her interpretation of their advice is that it might still be possible to submit objections to the licensing application on the following grounds:

  • Prevention of crime and disorder
  • Public Safety
  • Prevention of Public nuisance
  • Protection of children from harm..

Useful links on the council website

Premises licence for gambling

Gambling Act 2005: LBE Statement of Principles 5th Edition January 2019

Log in to comment

Shirley Rose's Avatar
Shirley Rose posted a reply #5870 17 Feb 2021 23:12
We feel strongly that we need to try to oppose this development. As we speak, local councillors are contacting the licensing department and Bambos has also offered to help. What do people think?
Colin Younger's Avatar
Colin Younger posted a reply #5871 17 Feb 2021 23:41
It's a bad idea. It will be detrimental to any attempt to improve Palmers Green. Can the proposed opening hours be checked? What do local traders think?

To read the officers' report go to the planning portal then search for 20/03849/FUL. Then click on Documents. Then View the first document, just called Report.
Denise Donoghue's Avatar
Denise Donoghue posted a reply #5872 18 Feb 2021 07:10
The gambling industry preys on vulnerable people, particularly at this difficult time, when unemployment is soaring and many have lost their incomes. It is associated with increased crime, disorder, noise and anti-social behaviour and will drag the area down. I strongly object to this proposed development.
Matthew Fitzsimmons's Avatar
Matthew Fitzsimmons posted a reply #5873 18 Feb 2021 07:15
This is a terrible idea and will undo a lot of the positive work the local community groups have been doing.
Elizabeth Robinson's Avatar
Elizabeth Robinson posted a reply #5874 18 Feb 2021 08:40
I entirely agree with the above comments. I have written to our local councillors and our MP. I did lodge a complaint with the council through the official channels but a few days after the consultation window closed, however was still able to object.
I think the fact that the planning notice was displayed at a time when the government ordered everyone to ‘stay at home’ means that so many people missed the notice which seems somewhat unreasonable.
Shirley Rose's Avatar
Shirley Rose posted a reply #5875 18 Feb 2021 08:53
Please spread the word and notify your local community groups- we are considering a petition in the near future
Dan Baer's Avatar
Dan Baer posted a reply #5876 18 Feb 2021 09:37
This is a disgrace! At a time when so many problem gamblers are struggling to deal with their addiction. This will have a very detrimental effect on our community and I would have objected strongly if I had been aware of this application.
Tunay Hussein's Avatar
Tunay Hussein posted a reply #5877 18 Feb 2021 10:04
I strongly object to this project. This is a large space in the High Street and will dominate the area . The idea that a den to encourage more gambling when the area already has several betting shops is ridiculous. Such poor decision making by the councillors. They should be encouraging family friendly businesses and better amenities. Surely there are better and healthier ways to regenerate Palmers Green? I wonder if one of the local newspapers could initiate and lead on a campaign with residents. Will our local councillors and MP campaign against this development and support a widespread consultation as soon as possible.