Licensing authority bulletin
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September 2022

Welcome to September's edition of Licensing Authority Bulletin. 
In this month's edition: 
  • Final Reminder - your Annual Returns
  • Statement of Policy
  • Southend-on-Sea City Council on licensing the 'Golden Mile' 
  • The FIFA World Cup - OUNs and TUNs
  • Test Purchasing for the purpose of Age Verification in Alcohol Licensed Premises
  • Small society lotteries
  • Compliance and enforcement
  • Research update
Final Reminder - your Annual Returns 

Many thanks to all LAs who have submitted their Annual Returns. For those who have not done so this is the last chance to submit them before we escalate the issue within your organisation. The closing date is September 30. For further details please see June’s LA Bulletin.  

Statement of Policy

Your Statement should have been updated and published by the end of January 2022. For Guidance on how please see our website. This document sets out your expectations of local operators as well as your local area profile. If it has not been updated and been through your internal scrutiny processes there is a risk of it being subject to legal challenge.   

Southend-on-Sea City Council on licensing the 'Golden Mile'
Regulatory Services Manager, Adam Penn, gives an overview of recent Test Purchasing work carried out by Southend-on-Sea City Council.

Southend-on-Sea is a ‘traditional’ seaside town, granted City status in 2022. It has been a popular holiday destination for many decades where visitors can enjoy blue flag beaches, an award winning fairground and many other attractions.

Situated along a stretch of the promenade is the ‘Golden Mile’ containing restaurants, pubs and several amusement arcades, some of which include ‘Adult Gaming Centres’ (AGC) operating gambling machines restricted to players over 18 years.

Officers from the Trading Standards and Licensing teams at Southend City Council embarked on a test purchase operation to measure the effectiveness of these arcades in preventing young people under 18 years from playing on age restricted games. Letters were sent to the identified premises, informing them of the visits, without mentioning exactly when they would be taking place. Two 16-year-old volunteers were recruited and were briefed by officers on the procedures of the operation, where the safeguarding of the young persons is always the priority.

The volunteers were accompanied by two staff members and were tasked with entering the AGC area and playing on a machine located within it. One officer was assigned to be located in close proximity to the volunteers, to be able to witness any subsequent actions and be prepared to intervene if necessary. The second officer remained outside the premises to meet the volunteers on exit, thus ensuring that they were in sight of an officer at all times.

In all the premises, access to their AGC was through a barrier and adequate signage for age requirements was on display. In the majority of visits the volunteers were challenged by staff after 2-3 minutes, in which time they played 3-5 games. Staff asked for the ages of the volunteers or whether they could provide appropriate ID. The volunteers are at all times required to answer truthfully and they were consequently asked to leave the area. However, in one large arcade, the volunteers were able to enter the restricted area and played on machines for over five minutes, unchallenged by any member of staff. When it became clear to the officer within that nobody was going to intervene, he signalled to the volunteers to leave the premises.

A second letter was sent to all the arcades visited, informing them of the results, and a written warning was given to the arcade that failed. Officers will carry out a follow-up visit to that particular premises and if it fails for a second time, formal action will follow.
The FIFA World Cup - OUNs and TUNs
The Commission has received a number of enquiries regarding the issuance of Occasional Use Notices (OUNs) and Temporary Use Notices (TUNs) for the purpose of offering betting events during the FIFA World Cup which starts on 20th November 2022. In the first instance see Part 14: Temporary use notices - Gambling Commission and Part 15 – Occasional use notices, as well as the March 2021 LA Bulletin. If you are in any doubt please mail GC Local Authority at:  
Test Purchasing for the purpose of Age Verification in Alcohol Licensed Premises
You will be aware that, prior to lockdown, the Commission worked in conjunction with LAs to investigate the compliance of pubs in preventing under 18s playing Cat C machines. The failure rate was c. 85%. This compares to comparable age restricted products such as alcohol, glue and cigarettes with a success rate of c. 75% according to industry data. 

The Commission are keen to engage with LAs on a comparable exercise to investigate how things in the sector are now looking and how things have improved.  Please contact us at Test Purchase Results for further information and support.      
Small society lotteries
We continue to receive many enquiries on this subject and we are aware that it is a major concern for Local Authorities. One, of several, questions that is often raised is as to whether they are ‘commercial’ – for private gain - or not. In the first instance please refer to our Lotteries Toolkit and Guidance to licensing authorities - Small society lotteries. If you are in doubt mail:
Compliance and enforcement
During August and September we have continued with our enforcement action against operators where we have identified regulatory failures and breaches. Action was taken against operators including LeoVegas, Smarkets, Entain, Spreadex, Betway and Betfred, with further cases to follow in the coming months. You can view our latest enforcement-related news here on our website: Enforcement news - Gambling Commission
Research update

The Gambling Commission has published new research exploring consumer journeys, to build our understanding of what the typical consumer journey looks like, from the beginning of a gambling interaction to the end. It builds on our earlier work to understand why people gamble, and our wider Consumer Voice research. The aim was to create a framework of the ‘Path to Play’ indicating the key milestones and stages gamblers go through when they gamble. 

Whilst official statistics on gambling participation and the prevalence of problem gambling are produced by the Gambling Commission, recent research published by GambleAware may also be useful in understanding estimates for usage and reported demand for treatment and support for gambling harms in your local area. More information can be found on GambleAware’s website

A newly published gambling study in the International Gambling Studies publication investigates questions about whether higher volumes of expenditure are concentrated among a small proportion of gamblers, and how this varies by problematic gambling status.  

Useful links and resources

Some quick guides are designed to give to operators when undertaking visits, others provide an accessible ‘how to’ for licensing staff: 

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