Gambling and lotteries

Under the Gambling Act 2005, local licensing authorities became responsible for regulating certain areas in the gambling industry. To find out more about the role local licensing authorities play, visit: Gambling Commission, about licensing authorities

In the West Suffolk area, there are two licensing authorities, Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

West Suffolk Councils Gambling Act 2006 Joint Statement of Licensing Policy 2016 to 2019

From the 31 January 2016 the West Suffolk Gambling Act 2005 Statement of Policy 2016-2019 came into effect.

Section 349 of the Gambling Act 2005 requires all Licensing Authorities to prepare and publish a statement of policy that they propose to apply in exercising their functions under the Act during the three-year period to which the policy applies.

Working together, Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury have developed the policy with due regard to all available regulations, conditions, codes of practice, statutory guidance, practical experience of legislation and any consultee responses. Should anything in future publications, legislative/regulatory changes or case law impact upon the content of the 'Statement of Policy' document, then it will be taken into account. The document may then be updated at a later stage and with due consideration to the resource implications for the Licensing Authority.

The publication of the West Suffolk Councils intention to publish a Joint Gambling Act 2005 Statement of Policy 2016-2019 was placed in a public notice.

Background to the West Suffolk Gambling Act 2005 Statement of Policy 2016-2019 

The Gambling Act 2005 (the act) gives licensing authorities various regulatory functions in relation to gambling. The main functions of licensing authorities include:

  • licensing premises for gambling activities
  • considering notices given for the temporary use of premises for gambling
  • granting permits for gaming and gaming machines in clubs
  • regulating gaming and gaming machines in alcohol licensed premises
  • granting permits to family entertainment centres for the use of certain lower stake gaming machines
  • granting permits for prize gaming
  • registering small societies lotteries

A gambling policy is required to address the three licensing objectives of the act, which are:

  • preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime
  • ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way
  • protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling

Licensing policies must be prepared in accordance with the act. Guidance issued by the Gambling Commission prescribes the information that must be included in the policy, however the policy must also reflect local circumstances hence the importance of local consultation. Further information on the legislation can be obtained from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) (www.culture.gov.uk); the Gambling Commission (www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk; and Legislation.gov.uk (www.legislation.gov.uk).

Risk assessment and local area profiles

Licensing authorities are already familiar with a risk-based approach to compliance, and targeting resources and effort where risk is greatest. To provide greater clarity, and make more explicit what an assessment of gambling related risks might look like there is a 'Risk assessment and local area profiles' section in the policy.

Local area profiles increase awareness of local risks and improve information sharing. This will facilitate constructive engagement with licensees and a more coordinated response to local risks. The local area profile will also help to inform the risk assessment section of any new licence application or application to vary a licence.

For example, an area could be identified as high risk on the basis that it is located within close proximity to a youth centre, rehabilitation centre or a school. The licensing authority might therefore indicate that they would expect licensees to take appropriate steps to ensure that advertising relating to their premises, or relating to events at their premises, is not displayed at a time when children are likely to be nearby. The licensee would be reasonably expected to have sufficient controls in place to mitigate associated risks in such areas and, if not, the licensing authority could consider implementing other controls.

Including Local Area Profiles will bring the following benefits:

  • enable licensing authorities to better serve their local community, by better reflecting the community and the risks within it
  • enable licensing authorities to make robust decisions, based on a clear, published set of factors and risks, which are therefore less susceptible to challenge
  • encourage operators and applicants to take a proactive approach to risk that is likely to result in reduced compliance and enforcement action