Licensing authority bulletin
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March 2022

Welcome to March's edition of Licensing Authority Bulletin. 
In this month's edition: 
  • The portal opens for Annual Returns from 1 April
  • Test Purchasing
  • The outward appearance of gambling premises 
  • Milton Keynes Licensing Officers provide a case study of how they conduct premises inspections 
  • Public health and gambling harm
  • Partnership work to shut down illegal Facebook Lotteries
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy online tool launched
  • Useful links and resources 
The portal opens for Annual Returns from the 1 April

Annual Returns are a part of the Single Data List which is issued by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). The Commission has had agreement to significantly reduce the data points that will be required this year and will only require information related to inspection, compliance, and enforcement.  Further details can be found on our guidance pages for licensing authority returns.

Test Purchasing

Test purchasing is one way to ensure that gambling operators comply with the Gambling Act and the associated Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP). Not least for the purposes of age verification. Operators normally use 3rd party agencies to test the effectiveness of their policies and procedures. Smaller operators tend to work with their Trade Association.
The Commission has recently completed an informal consultation regarding test purchasing with the relevant bodies. Of direct relevance for an LA is that there is a specific requirement on an operator to share data with you regarding their age verification results should you request this information for premises within your jurisdiction.

The outward appearance of gambling premises
LAs should be alert to any changes to the outward appearance of gambling premises. This might include advertising new, non-gambling facilities such as food and beverages. The Commission has been working with several LAs recently regarding this issue.
If you have any concerns about changes to the outward appearance of gambling premises contact us immediately at
Milton Keynes Licensing Officers provide a case study of how they conduct premises inspections
Milton Keynes Licensing Officers inspect all the betting shop licensed premises in the city. Inspections are undertaken (where possible) on an annual basis to enable officers to get a good feel of how the trade is performing and to ensure high standards are retained. Previous inspections have demonstrated that betting premises tend to have a high level of compliance with documentation and staff training etc. however nothing beats setting foot in a premises and talking to and observing how the staff operate.
We conducted an inspection of one of the traditional betting shops in the middle of a busy town high street. The inspection was unannounced, and before entering, the external appearance of the premises was inspected to ensure correct signage was visible for customers entering. A copy of the relevant documents; licence summary, site plan and local area risk assessment were brought along with the local authority inspection toolkit proforma. Following introduction to staff the officer discussed the general operation of the premises. The toolkit proforma provides a list of questions and topics to cover. The inspection can be quite robotic unless you engage in a conversation around the topics so it is necessary to establish a relationship with the staff. It appeared as though the staff members were knowledgeable.
During the inspection and conversation it became apparent that information relating to vulnerable gamblers was not easily accessible and only available from one location. Not enough consideration had been given to those wishing to obtain the material discretely. As the discussion progressed it was evident that some elements of underage gambling prevention knowledge was missing or could not be readily recalled by the staff member. There were training records, however it was not clear whether there had been any refresher training. The premises had a large central pillar obstructing the view from the counter to parts of the shop. To aid in observation a CCTV system could be viewed by staff behind the counter. However, some of the cameras were of such a poor quality they would not have any evidential benefit, nor assist with observation of customers.  
The inspection demonstrated that although the premises had vulnerable gambling information, had provided training and operated a CCTV system, when inspected all these systems had faults that would not be identified without getting into the premises and speaking to the staff.
Public health and gambling harm
The Commission is coordinating a growing group of public health and licensing officers across England and Wales to share experience and knowledge. The aim is to reduce gambling harms in particular for the young and vulnerable.  If you would like to join this group please mail us at .
To find out more about the group you can read our recent blog post on the group’s meeting in December last year.  
Partnership work to shut down illegal Facebook Lotteries
You will probably have seen some coverage or been asked questions about lotteries which offer a house, or other valuable assets. Very often these lotteries are promoted on Facebook or similar social media platforms. We have recently published an update on this issue.
Working with UK law enforcement partners through the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN), and specialists from the social networking platform, the Commission’s probe focused on the operation of illegal and unlicenced lotteries given the risks they posed to consumers and vulnerable people.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy online tool launched
GamCare has launched an online course for people concerned about their gambling behaviour. The new GameChange course, commissioned by GambleAware, is based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and participants are supported by regular contact with a GamCare therapist.
GameChange allows people to access support from wherever is convenient, working at their own pace to change their relationship with gambling. The course has been designed by Swedish responsible gambling software company Sustainable Interaction, who previously developed the GamTest screening assessment incorporated into the GamCare website and has been adapted for UK clients by GamCare.
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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