One thing was clear at the Sheffield City Council Licensing meeting on Tuesday 27th February:  Gambling causes harm. The Committee heard a proposal for a new gambling establishment ‘Bet Extra’ at Castle Square (1)

Cllrs Ruth Mersereau and Douglas Johnson
Cllrs Ruth Mersereau and Douglas Johnson

The Licensing Committee heard evidence directly from Charles Ritchie, who founded the “Gambling with Lives” charity after his son Jack died tragically at the age of 24 from becoming addicted to gambling.  (2)

Green Party Leader and City Ward Councillor Douglas Johnson said,

“I felt a weird privilege to sit next to Mr Ritchie and explaining why the three local councillors also worried about expanding a betting shop in the city centre.

 “I told the committee about the impact that a newer, bigger betting shop would have on the hundreds of school children, students and young people who pass through Castle Square every day.  When I suggested it could be a condition that windows are blacked out to avoid the lure of gambling, the solicitor for the business strongly rejected that. He indicated they would have as big a display as the law permits.

 The Green Councillors’ comments were also in line with objections from the Children Safeguarding Partnership, the Licensing Service and Changing Sheff, the city centre residents’ group (3) .  It was very disappointing to find out that the sub-committee had decided to side with the gambling business and to grant the licence for bigger premises.”

Councillor Ruth Mersereau who is also a City Ward Councillor who submitted a detailed objection to the proposal said

 “There is evidence to show that gambling can be a significant cause of harm to human health and wellbeing.  And, as has been noted in previous objections by Public Health to nearby proposal for gambling shops in Haymarket and Fargate, there are a number of land-based gambling premises already existing in the area.

 “Gambling shops in the city centre have attracted anti-social behaviour which has deteriorated the area, and taken significant resource to address.  This is in direct conflict with the council’s aims to regenerate the area through the Future High Street Scheme.


“It also will likely disturb residents living in the vicinity, and runs counter to the council’s aim to encourage more people to live in the city centre.  Anti-social behaviour makes the city centre a worse place to live as well as visit, as well as incurring additional costs and resources to address.

 “People likely to be the most negatively affected by this potential premises include people at risk, including children, young adults and people with addictions and gambling related harms.   Harmful gambling is related to health inequalities.  The most socio-economically deprived and disadvantaged groups in England have the lowest gambling participation rates but the highest levels of harmful gambling, and they are also the most susceptible to harm.

 “The proposed location is close to areas of high deprivation, as noted in the public health objection to the nearby gambling shop applications.

  “As well as detriment to the area through attracting anti-social behaviour, we believe an extended gambling shop in this location would also pose a material risk to the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people, from students to people who may suffer from drug addiction, who may be rough sleeping and/or homeless, who may use the service.”

 The Licensing Committee’s decision to expand the betting shop comes as the council is consulting on a Public Space Protection Order or PSPO. The council is consulting on this because of the level of begging, “loitering” and street drinking in the city centre already.



1) (Public Pack)Agenda Document for Licensing Sub-Committee, 27/02/2024 10:00 (


3) Home (

4) Yorkshire betting shop can expand despite warning from dad who lost son to gambling (