AN ADULT gaming centre will open in a former pub despite community leaders pleading with councillors to refuse it.
The licensing sub committee at Havant Borough Council granted approval today for a premises licences at the former White Hart Pub, a listed building in East Street, Havant.
The plans include 40 gaming machines to be installed in the 127-year-old former inn.
Tim Pike, the local councillor for Havant town centre, asked the committee to refuse the application by Golden Slots (Southern) Ltd, saying it was a wholly unsuitable location for gambling.
‘Thirty-three per cent of crime in Havant is anti-social behaviour,’ he said.
‘This location is already at the centre of a difficult area of policing.’
The Rev Canon Tom Kennar, Rector of St Faith’s Church, told the committee that the adult gaming centre could entice vulnerable people, many of them homeless, who use the church and town centre.
‘St Faith’s acts as a quiet place, a place of safety,’ he said.
A man who has attended Havant’s Gamblers’ Anonymous Group for 20 years addressed councillors.
He said: ‘It’s very difficult if you are in the grip of an addiction to bypass them. They draw you in like a magnet.’
Barry Malizia, representing the applicant, said strict measures would be in place, including staff members ‘walking the floor’ to help monitor activity.
‘It’s not going to be like the Las Vegas strip,’ he said.
And he said the centre would be prepared to close for an hour during services at the nearby war memorial.
A statement from the council said: ‘The licensing sub committee considered that the location was acceptable and bore in mind that no objections had been raised by the police and other statutory consultees.’
It said ‘moral and ethical’ objections could not be applied to the decision.
A digital CCTV system must cover the premises.