An Armagh councillor has launched an impassioned plea for planners to reject outright an application that has been lodged to create a new casino-style adult gaming centre venue in the the heart of the city.
Former Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Garath Keating has expressed his serious concern and stern opposition to the proposal.
On Sunday, Armagh I reported how plans for the centre had been recommended for approval by planning officials.
The application relates to a retail unit at Upper English Street – No 24 – which has previously operated as Baby Boo Boo and the Cheque Centre, as well as office accommodation in the past.
The property sits next door to the now defunct Armagh Observer newspaper office.
The proposal came forward in the name of BDM Amusements, a company based in Lurgan.
The opinion that the development should be allowed to proceed comes despite the submission of a letter and a petition of objection; both of which councillor Keating is fully supporting.
“The tentacles of problematic gambling are increasingly penetrating our local communities and unfortunately blighting the lives of many families,” said councillor Keating.
“With the relentless spread and aggressive promotion of gambling, particularly online gambling, by corporate business interests, many people are getting drawn further and further into daily behavioural patterns centred around gambling.
“This is having an increasingly detrimental impact on people’s lives with rocketing numbers of gambling addiction cases being reported locally.
“As a society we need to be doing much, much more to try and address this spiralling situation.
“As a local community our priority should be to prevent the proliferation and normalisation of gambling and casino type gaming facilities, especially machine terminals, which have been identified as the most addictive form of gambling.”
Councillor Keating admitted that people are of course free to spend their money in whatever fashion they wish, and “for those who wish to gamble there are already more than sufficient facilities around to do so”.
He continued: “What we certainly do not need as a local community however is another dedicated casino gaming facility seeking to profiteer off the back of our local people.
“We need to protect, in particular the most vulnerable in our communities, who are attracted to such premises with the enticement of easy money and riches to be made.
“I will be imploring local planners and members of the local planning committee to send out a clear message and the right message that this proposed development is not in the interests of our town and certainly not in the interests of our local community.”
Concluding the local councillor urged anyone who feels that they are sliding out of control with their gambling, to seek help.
“If anyone is impacted by problematic gambling or wishes to discuss in ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE ways in which to seek assistance for themselves or someone else then they can ring me on 07809288049 and I will gladly offer my support through that process.”