Keeping gambling in check
The Gambling Act 2005 places the responsibility for the licensing of gambling premises and the issuing of gambling permits with local authorities, who are tasked with the responsibility for ensuring that the conditions on these licences and permits are upheld.
Some of the premises that the Gambling Act regulates include betting shops, bingo halls, amusement arcades, gaming machines and society lotteries.
The Gambling Act requires the council to prepare and publish a Statement of Principles, also known as the Gambling Policy, which it proposes to apply in exercising its functions. The policy lasts for a maximum of three years and last took effect in January 2016, meaning a new one is due to be published in January 2019.
In exercising its functions under the Gambling Act, the authority must have regard to the licensing objectives, these are:
Preventing gambling from being a source of crime and disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime;
Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open manner;
Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling;
A wide range of people have been consulted so far who may be affected or have an interest in the Gambling Policy. This includes the police, representatives of gambling businesses, parish councils, the gambling commission, mental health services and Gamblers Anonymous to name a few.
I have recently been out with a licensing officer of the council to inspect a betting shop within the district. I was surprised to see how much work there was in checking these premises and was interested in going through the comprehensive check sheet to ensure the premises were complying with their licence conditions.
We needed to ensure that notices and rules and regulations were displayed, such as the premises licence and signage to show there is no entry to under-18s and that no alcohol was allowed in the premises.
I was also very interested to learn how you can self-limit how much you spend on machines. The gaming machines you find in betting shops are known fixed-odds betting terminals. Recently, the government announced that these machines would be cut from £100 to £2 stakes to reduce the risk of gambling-related harm, as a lot of revenue was being taken from these machines. This is another positive step in helping combat the devastating effect this addiction can have on individuals and entire families.
South Holland District Council’s reviewed Gambling Policy, which is currently out for consultation until October 12, can be found at www.sholland.gov.uk/GamblingActPolicyConsultation.