A vacant bookies in the town centre could become a 24-hour arcade for adults only called ‘Little Vegas’.

Plans have been submitted to Reading Borough Council (RBC) turn the former William Hill betting shop at 134-145 Friar Street into an 18+ ‘adult gaming centre’, more commonly known as an amusement arcade.

The William Hill betting shop closed in late 2019 and the unit has been vacant since that time.

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The application is from Chongie Entertainment, a new company which is based in The Bahamas but has an office in London, according to Companies House.

It was set up by Baltadzhiev Dobromi in October 2020 and has submitted several planning and licence applications for arcades including uin Leyton, Wood Green and Crawley.

The company will need to apply for a gambling premises licence to open up in Reading and other parts of the country.

Similar plans from Chongie Entertainment in Leyton have been opposed by locals, with more than 600 people signing a petition opposing a gambling arcade – also called Little Vegas – which would open from 8am to midnight every day.

READ MORE: Leyton residents hope to block new ‘Little Vegas’ arcade

The Reading proposal goes even further, with a bid to open 24/7, while plans suggest the arcade will have machines starting at 10p.

The vacant former betting shop

The vacant former betting shop

JMS, planning consultants for the applicant, say the plan is “of significant merit”.

They say it will:

  • Bring back a vacant unit in the town centre into “beneficial use”
  • Create more trips into town
  • Broaden the range of options in the town centre
  • Provide an entertainment and amusement facility in an accessible location
  • Enhance the evening economy
  • Promote Reading as a centre of regional significance.

The plans would create up to eight jobs.

There are two similar amusement arcades in Reading’s town centre – Golden Touch Amusements at 9 West Street and Admiral at 98 Friar Street – according to JMS.