Richmond has joined 32 London councils in petitioning the Government to tighten laws over permission to open betting shops.

It signed a petition this week to urge the Government to give betting shops their own planning class, as with nightclubs and casinos.

Currently betting shops can open without planning permission in shops that previously had a financial and professional service located inside, such as a bank, building society or estate agent.

Government deregulation in May will make it easier for gambling firms, removing the need to apply for permission to take over a wider range of premises.

The council hopes if the petition is successful residents would have more say over every application and the potential impact a new betting shop may have would become a key factor in its approval.

Cabinet member for environment Councillor Pamela Fleming said: “Betting shops sap the vibrancy and variety of our high streets, damage local economies and squeeze out potential enterprises which could use shops for something positive and constructive.

“In most instances councils are powerless to stop betting shops from opening and residents have no opportunity to have a say.

“This is why Richmond Council has signed this petition. We want the Government to change planning laws and put an end to betting shops blighting high streets across the capital.

“Although we do not have a large number of betting shops here in Richmond, the council will not stand by and watch betting shops cynically targeting deprived communities, feeding off vulnerable people, fuelling addictions, and adding to the difficulties of already hard-pressed families.”