By Dave Hunter
Colin Rattray, general manager of Fat Sams in Dundee, said there is an inconsistent approach to the licensing of late-night premises in the city, claiming that a local casino’s 6am licence has given it an advantage over the city’s bars and nightclubs.
As well as the late-opening casino, which is located adjacent to Fat Sams, the club boss said a number of bars have been granted permission to trade until 2.30am.
Rattray said Fat Sams has cut the days it operates from seven nights a week to three as the number of late-opening premises in Dundee has increased; the number of customers visiting Fat Sams has fallen from 7000 a week in 2009 to 1000 a week, he said.
Rattray has applied for an extension to Fat Sams’ trading hours which would allow the club to remain open until 4.30am. A decision on the application has been deferred by Dundee licensing board until May.
While the nightclub boss said he is “happy with the competition from pubs”, he claims it is “unfair” that a casino be licensed until 6am when other licensed premises have to shut earlier.
Rattray argued that for the majority of people visiting the casino in the early hours of the morning “the primary reason for going is not gambling, it’s going for food and alcohol”.
“By extending the opening hours of public houses to a situation where they can operate for fifteen and a half hours in any one day or giving the casino the ability to sell alcohol for 20 hours a day doesn’t strike me as being in line with any of the licensing objectives,” he said.
“Alcohol is more available in Dundee than it’s ever been, and that was never the intention of the 2005 Act.”
Fat Sams’ owners have invested in kitchen facilities, which were installed in 2010 ahead of an earlier application for an hours extension, which was refused. Rattray said they plan to introduce a food offer if the extension is granted.
“If we don’t get it, or there’s not a change in the policy, I can guarantee we won’t be here in 2017,” he said.
“And that’s after two local Dundee businessmen invested £7 million in the build, over 12 years.”
Dundee licensing board was unable to comment as SLTN went to press.
Rattray’s comments echo concerns raised by Glasgow nightclub boss Donald MacLeod last month.
MacLeod, whose CPL company owns Glasgow’s Cathouse, Garage and Tunnel nightclubs, said he was worried by a “slow erosion of hours”.
“We need to return to the situation where pubs are pubs, clubs are clubs and casinos are for gambling,” he said.
Image – Fat Sams nightclub is in Dundee.