On 8 May 2015, the Gambling Commission published its latest LCCP (Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice) which introduce a new requirement for gambling operators to undertake a local risk assessment of the area surrounding their premises.
Social responsibility code provision 10.1.1 “assessing local risk” relates to “all non remote casino, adult gaming centre, bingo, family entertainment centre, betting and remote betting intermediary (trading room only) licences, except non remote general betting (limited) and betting intermediary licences”.
The provision comes into force on 6 April 2016 and requires these operators to do the following:
1. Licensees must assess the local risk to the licensing objectives posed by the provision of gambling facilities at each of their premises, and have policies, procedures and control measures to mitigate those risks. In making risk assessments, licensees must take into account relevant matters identified in the licensing authority’s statement of licensing policy.
2. Licensees must review (and update as necessary) their local risk assessments:
a) To take account of significant changes in local circumstances, including those identified in a licensing authority’s statement of licensing policy;
b) When there are significant changes at a licensee’s premises that may affect their mitigation of local risks;
c) When applying for a variation of a premises licence; and
d) In any case undertake a local risk assessment when applying for a new premises licence.
I have already been asked by a number of clients whether this relates to existing premises licences or whether it just relates to new applications and variations. Does a major high street bookmaker with over 1500 shops need to have in place a local risk assessment for every shop? Ordinary code provision 10.12 which also comes into force on 6 April 2016 confirms the position: “Licensees should share their risk assessment with licensing authorities when applying for a premises licence or applying for a variation to existing licensed premises or otherwise on request.
It seems clear therefore that all current gambling premises licences must have associated with them a written risk assessment supported by the necessary policies, procedures and control measures, and that the holders of such licences must make those available upon request to the licensing authority.
I have been involved in a number of betting office applications recently that have received representations and in each case we have provided a risk assessment which covers the representations and refers to the supporting policies. We analysed the representations that were made and the points that were made in them (whether or not they were strictly valid) and produced a risk assessment which dealt with the representations and referred to various parts of policies and procedures which would deal with those concerns. In each of the recent cases I have dealt with this has proved particularly helpful in overcoming representations and will be a specific requirement as from 6 April 2016.
What will become very interesting is the way in which licensing authorities change their statement of licensing policy. The risk assessment must take into account local circumstances identified in licensing policies. I have previously written an article on the work commissioned by Westminster and Manchester City Councils, who are looking to explore and document a range of characteristics that suggest someone is vulnerable to harm from gambling and to develop a local risk index model showing areas where those who may be more vulnerable to harm are located.
It will be necessary for applicants for variations and for new licences to ensure that they fully appreciate what is contained within the statement of licensing policy, to ensure that any risk assessment deals with specific issues raised in the local policy. Westminster and Manchester are not saying that if a local risk index model highlights a particular area where those who may be more vulnerable to harm are located then applications in that area will not be granted. They are placing a burden upon the applicant to show how the licensing objectives are promoted and how their policies, procedures and control measures will mitigate those risks.