Ladbrokes lose Northern Ireland appeal

An appeal by North West Bookmakers Ltd on behalf of their subsidiary Ladbrokes against two independent bookmakers has been dismissed by a Belfast High Court judge.

Ladbrokes launched an appeal against Sean Graham and Toal bookmakers last year after the firm’s were granted planning permission for the extension of their outlets in Castle Street and High Street, NI respectively.

Judge Treacy rejected the appeal, stating in his written determination this week that the Planning Service had "formed a perfectly lawful and rational view about whether the developments will preserve or enhance the character of the area”.

Ladbrokes had contested both Sean Graham's plans to increase the space of their office by taking over a hairdressers and Toal's proposal to extend into a former passport office.

Lawyers for Ladbrokes and another Northern Irish independent bookmaker McClean claimed their rivals were attempting to get around gaming legislation requirements and noted that their plans might not comply with policies protecting a conservation area.

But UTV Media reports that according to the Planning Service's legal representatives, neither of the developments involved visible alterations to the buildings' exteriors.

During the case, the legal representative for Sean Graham said the appeal by Ladbrokes was not based on environmental concerns but the action of a "disgruntled competitor".

Sean Graham general manager Chris Deery said: "It is our view, supported now by the legal judgement, that the appeal by Ladbrokes amounted to an attempt to disrupt our expansion plans, effectively using the legal system as a commercial tool."

He told UTV Media that Sean Graham welcomes the judgement and aims to move forward with their plans "as quickly as possible".

Emma Rumney

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