The Gambling Commission is currently preparing its advice to the Department for Culture Media and Sport on the DCMS review of the fees the GC can charge for applications..
Comments can be emailed to the GC at Discussion@gamblingcommission.gov.uk by 27 August 2015, and a workshop is being arranged with the main trade associations, to be held on 24 September 2015.
This discussion comes about following the previous government’s response to the Select Committee’s report “The Gambling Act 2005: A bet worth taking?”, in which it made it clear that it would consider re-evaluating fees and costs once the changes to the regulation of remote gambling had been implemented.
The GC’s website says that “The Commission is planning to advise the Government to amend the current fees regulations, to take into account the significant changes in the population of operators that we regulate and to address identified problems in the current fees structure.”
It will be interesting to see the full year’s data following the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 being implemented at the end of last year, as this will doubtless be the information that informs what the “significant changes in the population of operators” are and what, if any, problems exist. It is unlikely, therefore, that any review will take place until the start of next year, although ultimately the decision as to when to hold a review is a matter for the Secretary of State.
The GC has issued the discussion document so as to “explain our approach to recovering costs through licence fees, our current thinking on how the fee structure can be improved, and the implications of the 2014 Act on our costs, income and, therefore, on the fees needed to recover these costs”.
We would urge any interested party who wishes to make comments on GC fees to do so, at the email address set out at the start of this article.
I also wonder whether there might follow a review of Local Authority gambling premises licence fees, particularly relating to transfer applications. I have recently spoken to a local independent betting office operator in Southampton, who has operated one betting shop for twenty years. He is keen to take on two other betting shops which are currently on the market, following the operator going into administration, and was astounded to learn that the fee payable to the Licensing Authority to transfer the betting office premises licence from the previous holder to his company would be £1,080.00. I decided not to tell him that if he was buying a pub, the fee payable under the Licensing Act 2003 for an alcohol premises licence to be transferred from one company to another would only be £23.00. I hope that perhaps, when the review of the GC’s fees has been completed, there will be a further review of local authority fees, particularly relating to transfer applications.