Plans have been lodged to open a 24-hour gaming centre inside one of Stoke-on-Trent’s most historic buildings.
Merkur Cashino wants to open the venue inside the remaining empty ground-floor units within the old Webberleys, in Percy Street, Hanley.
It comes as BoyleSports has already opened a betting shop in the building.
Merkur Cashino has 170 adult gaming centres (AGCs) across the UK. It will have bingo machines and tablets rather than fixed odds betting terminals. Six jobs will be created.
Its planning application to Stoke-on-Trent City Council states: “It is apparent that the city has a number of existing empty units, meaning these proposals will breathe a new lease of life into the ground floor.
“The evening economy is also a significant contributor to economic performance and this application encourages evening and night-time uses. The principle of evening opening is established in this area.
“The proposed change-of-use will create a new commercial unit, adding to the vibrancy of the centre.
“The customer base during the late evening and into the early hours is predominantly the local entertainment workforce and shift workers who like to relax after busy shifts. The machines generate low levels of noise and there are no tannoy systems. Cashino has never had a licence revoked or reviewed and incidents are extremely rare.
“Cashino operates a large number of 24-hour sites and given the nature of the proposal and the commercial context of the site, 24-hour opening is considered acceptable in this location.”
Webberleys was a big loss to Hanley’s retail scene when it closed five years ago.
Shopper Angela Salmon, aged 70, of Bucknall, said: “I would love the units to become luxury apartments to bring revenue into the town. The building is absolutely gorgeous.”
David Pickerill, aged 46, of Newcastle, said: “Gambling is almost like a hidden problem. I know people who are addicted.”
And Eva Atakova, aged 38, of Bucknall, added: “I do not think it is a good idea. I think something more useful for families would be better than a casino or gaming centre.”
But Tony Durose, aged 64, of Hanley, said: “The town looks a mess and the units need filling. It will attract people into the city centre.”