Prominent Dundee businessman Jimmy Marr is calling on the city council’s licensing board to “get strong” with regard to its policy on late-night licences.
Mr Marr said the G Casino’s 6am licence is causing real hardship for nightclubs in the city, while pubs should also be forced to close at midnight in order to restore a level playing field in the night-time economy.
He said the board has got itself into a mess with its recent policy of granting 2.30am licences to more than 20 pubs and, as both a publican and nightclub owner, he reckons he is well placed to see the bigger picture.
“Pubs staying open until 2.30am and the casino until 6am is destroying the nightclub trade in the city,” Mr Marr said.
“We need a strong licensing board. They have opened up a can of worms by issuing all these 2.30am pub licences and we need to get back to where it was before because it’s not a level playing field any more.
“The casino should be brought into line with everyone else too. They only have facilities for about 400 people to gamble, yet the capacity is over 1,600, and they have live music and hundreds of people just going there for a late drink.
“It’s supposed to be a casino with an ancillary bar but it’s completely the other way round. It’s bar-led, which is wrong. And they don’t have to worry about a minimum entry charge either.
“The licensing board should be looking at the terms of their entertainment licence.
“If the licensing forum, which meets on Monday, decides they want to open it up to nightclubs getting 4.30am licences to give them a better chance, that will be even worse for the city.
“The licensing board has lost control of the situation and they need to get that control back.
“Too many pubs have late licences already and more will want it. Even pubs with residential flats above or out in the schemes will be asking.
“We’re not London, Glasgow or Edinburgh. We’re a small city and the police can’t be expected to be chasing around all over the place dealing with trouble in the schemes as well as the city centre.
“Instead of nightclubs like Fat Sam’s, Liquid and Dj Vu opening at 10.30pm or 11pm, we’ll be opening at midnight or one o’clock. It’ll just get later and later, and that’s not good for anybody.”
Casinos are legislated under a gaming licence, which allows them to operate much longer hours.
Fat Sam’s has been applying for a 4.30am licence for some time and says its trade has been badly hit by the casino being open for more than 20 hours a day, while its “window of opportunity” is four hours per weekend night, or five hours on a public holiday.
Licensing board convener David Bowes said: “The points raised by Mr Marr are exactly the things the board is consulting on and the results of that consultation will be discussed by the board at its meeting in August.
“As such I wouldn’t want to prejudice the consultation process by commenting any further on his points.
“As far as pubs not implementing the minimum charge, then if it was reported to the board we would investigate and, if necessary, take the appropriate action.
“It is one of the conditions of the licence that they must have a minimum charge.”