Share this article share on facebook icon share on twitter icon

game over petition graphic
It seems that the game is now over - but the local community are the losers

Leaders of the StopPGMerkurSlots campaign have expressed anger and disappointment after Enfield Council cancelled the review, scheduled for this morning, into the granting of a licence for a 24-hour slot-machine arcade in the centre of Palmers Green. The council's change of mind came about after it received a legal challenge and was advised that it could not be confident of defending the challenge and that there might be "financial consequences".

News that the council had decided to cancel this morning's review meeting was communicated to campaigners, councillors and others involved just after 6pm yesterday (Tuesday 15 June) in an email from principal licensing officer Ellie Green:

Good evening

I write to advise you of the following information that I have received from our Legal Team:

“The council recently received a legal challenge to its acceptance of an application for review of a bingo premises licence under the Gambling Act 2005 on 3 grounds:-

“Ground 1: Cllr Caliskan is not an "Interested Party";

Ground 2: The Defendant had no power to embark on a review that may interfere with, let alone take back, a licence before it has even traded and without any other change in circumstances;

Ground 3: The Decision is substantively unlawful and founded on irrelevant considerations.”

As a result of this challenge the council sought legal advice from a counsel who is an acknowledged expert in gambling law. That advice made clear that the council could not be confident of defending such a challenge because “a good proportion of the evidence advanced in support of the review is highly speculative, based more upon macro societal trends and surveys, rather than specific facts and data emerging from this specific location”. Further, the advice also made clear that there may even be financial consequences against the council.

In light of this advice, the council’s Monitoring Officer decided it was necessary to reject the application for review, that had been previously accepted. As a result of this decision the licensing sub-committee hearing that would have taken place on 16 June 2021 has now been cancelled.”

Yours sincerely

Ellie

Ellie Green
Principal Licensing Officer
Licensing Team
Environment & Operational Services
Place Directorate
Enfield Council

This morning the StopPGMerkurSlots campaign issued the following statement:

We are angry and bitterly disappointed that the hearing to revoke Merkur Slots licence we all worked so hard to achieve, has  been cancelled at the last minute. 

We understand that the giant Merkur has techniques and resources to block the will of the local community. We also ask acknowledge that the local council have their hands tied by a the gambling law and threats of a judicial review.

Moving forward we will continue our campaign  in collaboration with the local authority to reverse the destiny of our high street and plan for a positive changes that can improve our local high street, so making the community safe and the area vibrant for business.

StopP.GMerkurSlots

On their Change.org petition page the campaigners published the following update:

Dear supporters, it is with a very heavy heart that I bring you the worst possible news: after months of hard work and community action, the hearing to review the Merkur Slots licence was suddenly cancelled at the last minute, due to Cashino Gaming Ltd. threatening the council with legal action and calling for a judicial review.

This is devastating news and naturally, we are extremely angry and bitterly disappointed with this outcome. It is a clear case of the hugely powerful gambling industry crushing individual and community protest and blocking the will of the people.

Once again, we (and the council) are at the mercy of the Gambling Act 2005 which is why we so desperately need the law to be changed. We can now only rely on our Enfield MPs to continue this fight on our behalf and acknowledge the tremendous help and support of our Enfield Southgate MP Bambos Charalambous.

Our campaign group would like to thank you all for your continued support for our cause, for writing multiple letters of protest and especially those who wrote representations for the hearing, which in the end was sadly dismissed.

Moving forward, we will continue to support efforts to reverse the decline of our high street and plan for positive change to make improvements, keeping the area safe, socially vibrant and commercially viable.

We are taking this opportunity to regroup and consider what action (if any) should follow. We would welcome your comments, ideas and suggestions.

Wendy Sands

on behalf of StopPGmerkurslots campaign group.

Log in to comment

Chris Bryant posted a reply #6055 16 Jun 2021 09:50
I just heard this morning that the licensing sub-committee hearing that was due to take place today in regards to the controversial Merkur Slots application has been has been cancelled. The application for review has now been rejected a few short hours before it was due to take place. There is clearly something fishy going on here. The bit that caught my eye was the inference that there may have been legal action against the council from Mekur slots!

Does anyone know where this now leaves us as a community? What steps do we now need to take to ensure this doesn't go ahead without a full public consultation? Can we appeal a decision not to appeal?

I enclose the full text of the email I received below;

I write to advise you of the following information that I have received from our Legal Team: “The council recently received a legal challenge to its acceptance of an application for review of a bingo premises licence under the Gambling Act 2005 on 3 grounds:-
“Ground 1: Cllr Caliskan is not an "Interested Party";
Ground 2: The Defendant had no power to embark on a review that may interfere with, let alone take back, a licence before it has even traded and without any other change in circumstances;
Ground 3: The Decision is substantively unlawful and founded on irrelevant considerations.”

As a result of this challenge the council sought legal advice from a counsel who is an acknowledged expert in gambling law. That advice made clear that the council could not be confident of defending such a challenge because “a good proportion of the evidence advanced in support of the review is highly speculative, based more upon macro societal trends and surveys, rather than specific facts and data emerging from this specific location”. Further, the advice also made clear that there may even be financial consequences against the council. In light of this advice, the council’s Monitoring Officer decided it was necessary to reject the application for review, that had been previously accepted. As a result of this decision the licensing sub-committee hearing that would have taken place on 16 June 2021 has now been cancelled.”


[Admin note: Chris Bryant was first to reveal cancellation of the review when he posted this to the website this morning. In order to simplify matters if more people wish to comment I've moved Chris's comment so that it follows the news report and have played around with the chronology to make it seem that the news item was posted first - but he was in fact the first to report it.]
Paul Dick posted a reply #6062 17 Jun 2021 09:28
It seems that Merkur slots are a very big company and have the resources to fight this legally.

www.forbes.com/profile/paul-gauselmann/
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Gauselmann
Here are the accounts accounts
Chris Bryant posted a reply #6063 17 Jun 2021 09:51
I got a response from Bambos yesterday who is clearly dismayed as we are but said he will speak with Enfield council to see what action can be taken going forward. In terms of practical next steps for the community I would suggest, that if it is the decision of the Stop of The Slots group to pursue this matter, that we should seek to raise some funds. If every person who signed the petition donated say, £2 (I'm sure many people would donate much larger sums but even as a conservative estimate) this would provide a decent chunk of funding. This isn't my area of expertise but if we were to set up some kind of stall outside of the proposed venue we might be able to create a bit of a buzz and get the local newspapers on side. What this might actually achieve I don't know but at the very least it should generate some publicity and send Mekur Slots a clear message that we will not go away quietly.
Paul Dick posted a reply #6064 17 Jun 2021 15:30
Hi Chris,

Have you got the link to a website for who is organising the fight against them?

Thanks,
Paul.