Councillors have given the go-ahead for a new 24-hour adult gaming centre in Ayr High Street.

Merkur Slots, a subsidiary of the multi-million pound Gauselmann Group, will develop an empty former cafe at 244-246 High Street.

The property has been vacant since the first covid lockdown in March 2020.

South Ayrshire Council’s regulatory panel heard that a total of seven objections had been lodged, including one from Fort, Seafield and Wallace Community Council.

These covered issues such as the impact on residential amenity, concentration of gaming venues, the 24-hour operation and the impact of gambling on the area, including anti-social behaviour.

One objector took the opportunity to directly address the panel at its meeting on March 28.

William Hendren told the panel that he had mixed views on the application, acknowledging the jobs being brought to the area.

However, he said: ”I object because we already have quite a few bookies in the town and one adult gaming centre. My main questions is ‘do we really need another adult gambling centre?’.

“I gamble myself and attend Admiral Casino, which is in the High Street, on a regular basis.  I am always very careful not to go over my limits.”

He said that the existing gaming centre was always very busy and was "mainly full of elderly people spending money which they do not need to spend".

He continued: “This money is their pension and I do think it is inappropriate to spend their money this way.”

The applicant’s agent, Henry Hodgson, argued that there would be numerous ‘spin off’ benefits, including "job creation, generation of linked trips, the replacement of a vacant unit and a positive contribution to the evening economy".

He added that there is a misconception about the gaming provided by such centres, pointing out that there are no fixed odds betting terminals, no alcohol being served, and an average customer stake of 30p to 40p.

He also said that the gaming appealed to individuals rather than groups that other gaming venues would attract, and that there would therefore be less of an impact when it comes to noise nuisance.

Councillor Ian Cavana (Labour, Ayr North) raised concerns with gambling and how the venue would ensure the age limit of 18 was monitored.

He said: “This is a very worrying time for this country. One in five adverts on television are to do with gambling.

“One question I’ve got is, how do you supervise that [age limit] if it is passed?”

Mr Hodgson said that the facility would operate a system where anyone under 25 would be required to show identification.

Councillor Martin Kilbride (Conservative, Prestwick) proposed that the panel approve the application, adding: “It is good to bring a vacant building back into use."

The application was unanimously approved.