Remember, remember the 6th of April 2016 does not quite have the same ring about it as “remember, remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot”. Just as the 5th of November 1605 will be a date that King James will never forget, so the 6th of April 2016 has to be a date that gambling operators should not forget.
The Gambling Commission’s recently published information (24 March 2016) about more independent gambling operators being prosecuted and having conditions attached to their licences relating to non-compliance with legislation. Paul Hope, the Gambling Commission Consumer Policy Program Director said that “the actions that Licensing Authorities have taken against gambling premises show that operators cannot afford to be complacent. They need to remember that where weaknesses persist, regulators will also consider other sanctions such as licence suspension or revocation”.
These sanctions could equally apply to the new measures which came into force on 6 April 2016, which include the requirement for Premises Licence holders to conduct a local risk assessment for their premises and for all non-remote operators who are Premises Licence holders in the arcade, betting, bingo and casino sectors to participate in multi-operator self exclusion schemes.
We have been aware for months that operators would soon be required to have in place a written local risk assessment for each of their current premises, and as from 6 April 2016, this is now a requirement. In addition, Ordinary Code 10.1.2 states that licensees should share their risk assessment with Licensing Authorities upon request, as best practice.
The local risk assessment must be unique to each premises and cannot be generic. It must specifically refer to local matters identified in the Licensing Authority’s Statement of Licensing Policy and by the operator itself and it must offer assurance that the premises have suitable controls and procedures in place which reflect the level of risk within the area.
It is necessary therefore to carry out a review of the risks presented locally, in particular relating to groups which are perceived as being vulnerable, and it may be helpful to attach a map to the risk assessment showing the position of local schools, churches, doctors’ surgeries, hospitals, homeless shelters, and so on. The aim of the requirement is described by the Gambling Commission as “to enable operators and Local Authorities to engage in constructive dialogue at an early stage, to reduce the likelihood of costly enforcement action at a later date”.
There is also a new Social Responsibility Code (3.5.6) in the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice which also came into force on 6 April 2016, requiring operators to be involved in a multi-operator self-exclusion scheme which would allow an individual to make a single request to self-exclude from that type of gambling within their area. Operators who have not done so should register with the relevant scheme as soon as possible. The details of the relevant trade bodies are as follows:
Arcades/BACTA – Phil Silver, Head of Compliance, 29/30 Ely Place, London, EC1N 6TD. Telephone number: 0207 730 6444 & email: email@example.com
Betting – firstname.lastname@example.org
Bingo – Bingo Association, Cherry Hoskin, Lexham House, 75 High Street, North Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU6 1JF. Telephone number: 01582 860921 & email: email@example.com
Casino – National Casino Forum, Tracey Damestani, Carlyle House, 235/237 Vauxhall Bridge Road, Victoria. Telephone number: 0207 828 5410
If anyone needs help on any of these points please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07738 170138.