High Street Gambling – should be LAs “primary” concern

Posted on August 14, 2012 by admin
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Dear Local Authority Licensing Officer,

Recently the Department of Culture Media and Sport issued a report on the hearing into the 2005 Gambling Act. A major recommendation was a shift towards more Local Authority (LA) licensing responsibility. The Chairman of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has acknowledged that, based on a 2009 concordat, LAs have a regulatory role over day-to-day compliance and enforcement of betting shop licences.

The recent Dispatches programme, “Britain’s High Street Gamble”, shown on Channel 4 on Monday 6th August 2012, gave a powerful insight into the damaging effects of B2 gaming machines. Yet the Department Culture Media and Sport’s (DCMS) recommendations into legislation around gambling and decentralising licensing powers to LAs has ignored this damaging evidence and as well dismissing proof of problem gambling on B2 machines supplied by Harriet Harman MP, Dr Henrietta Bowden Jones of the NHS Gambling Clinic, findings of the British Gambling Prevalence Survey and information provided by gambling support network, GRASP – all of which can be found on our website www.fairergambling.org.

Addictive gaming content on B2 gaming machines, has resulted in more betting shops, more machines, more shop clustering and more problem gambling. Betting licences are granted on the understanding that over-the-counter betting is the “primary activity” in betting shops. B2 machines are generating 80% of turnover in betting shops and only 20% comes from over-the-counter betting. These figures show that it is gaming not betting which is the main activity inside a betting shop – which means bookmakers are in breach of their betting licenses.

So you already have the power to refuse licences for betting shops on the basis of breach of the primary activity standard.

You also have the power to refuse licences to bookmakers on the basis of breach of the 2005 Gambling Act’s objective to prevent problem gambling among vulnerable persons.  Are you willing to deny licenses to betting shops and police their abuse of existing licenses?

We urge you to enforce these powers. If you don’t feel you have these powers, we urge you to obtain clarification so that you are able to enact your gambling licensing responsibilities.

We look forward to hearing of your moves to deny licenses on either of the above grounds.

Yours sincerely,

Derek Webb

Founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling