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The current trends of the UK Gambling Commission

Enforcement and Compliance have been and remain to be two of the biggest priorities for the Gambling Commission this year. Having successfully defended an appeal against a regulatory decision this week and handed out another fine in the last couple of weeks, there is no sign that the active levels of enforcement we have seen will be easing up. As Andrew Rhodes, the CEO of the Commission, said last month “in the last 11 months alone 16 operators have paid out a total of £45m because of regulatory failures. A further two have had their operating licence suspended because of regulatory concerns.

For comparison, in the whole of 2016/17 full financial year we took action against 3 operators who paid out £1.7m for regulatory failures.”

There have been a few events in recent weeks where the Commission have spoken in person, the Institute of Licensing National Training Conference, the BACTA Annual Convention and the CEO Briefing. These speeches give a helpful indication of the current hot topics within the Commission itself and what we might be looking at in the future, both for Enforcement and possible regulatory changes.

Sarah Gardener, the deputy CEO, gave the key note speech at the IOL’s National Training Conference. An audience of predominantly local authorities, this speech took a very different tone to the two summarised below. Ms Gardner opened her speech by stressing the importance of “strong collaboration with our partners in regulation” and made it clear throughout that the Commission would like to maintain communication with Local Authorities across the country.

Emphasis was given to the wide range of enforcement powers that the Local Authorities have- a call to action to ensure that they are aware of and are regulating their gambling premises on a local level. Ms Gardner reminded the Local Authorities of, and thanked them for, the data and intelligence that they provide to the Commission to assist in enforcement on the ground.

The 80/20 rule was discussed, although this was given greater air time by Mr Angus (below) and Ms Gardner assured the Local Authorities that the rule is still in place and is as strict as ever. The second call to action from Ms Gardener related to test purchasing, and the Local Authorities ability to regulate businesses on the ground and ensure compliance. Overall a strong emphasis on enforcement and the ability to do more- including site inspections.

Ian Angus, the Director of Policy, spoke at the BACTA Annual Convention in November and spoke predominantly to the third licensing objective, protecting children and vulnerable persons from harm. However the most interesting tid-bit to come out of Mr Angus’ speech were his comments on the 80/20 rule. Many in the industry have called for there to be some lessening of the 80/20 rule to attempt to alleviate some of the pressure of the energy crisis. As it stands, the AGCs must ensure that they have the correct number of machines ‘available for use’. However Mr Angus made it clear that the ability to switch off these machines to save on energy would not be forthcoming, with the 80/20 rule being enshrined in the Gambling Act.

BACTA was praised on the one hand, particularly for taking the initiative and trialling new ways to protect customers, but also warned that the arcade sector would not be safe from enforcement. Again the theme of compliance and enforcement underpinned the speech.

Finally, at the CEO briefing in November Andrew Rhodes, the CEO of the Commission, delivered his thoughts on the state of the industry. Enforcement was raised in his introduction, with the words “you don’t have a choice about us and you’re not required to like us either”, and continued throughout. However he did go on to admit that gambling is not on the rise as the media repeatedly spouts, but is in fact holding fairly steady. Mr Rhodes made some insightful comments regarding the top few operators in the UK, in particular that the top 10 groups now represent 77% of total B2C GGY in Great Britain and the top three groups will represent over 50% when recent mergers are accounted for. A small warning was made that the CMA (Competitions and Markets Agency) may soon come knocking…

An acknowledgment was also made that safer gambling will likely mean less profitable gambling, hence the need to diversify and merge companies. It was made clear, as it has been before, than the Commission will not seek to make decisions for operators on this topic but instead let them decide for themselves where the line is (and of course be there to step in if you get it wrong!).

Mr Rhodes also made it clear that they intend to ramp up their own ‘customer interaction’ and that operators can expect to see far more of the Commission in the coming months.

The latest Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement Policy (June 2022) is also worth a read for all operators, with a few changes implemented at the last consultation.

With the lack of a white paper it is highly likely that we will see more consultations and more LCCP changes, the Commission is an ever changing beast and these insights are invaluable for positioning operations to weather any changes on the horizon. Expect more interaction from the Commission as they continue to implement a more hands on approach to enforcement, from site visits and compliance audits to special measures.

 

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City of Westminster – New Statement of Licensing Principles for Gambling (Gambling Act 2005)- What Should Existing Operators Do?

 

City of Westminster Council, after significant consultation, and redrafting, have ratified their new Statement of Licensing Principles for Gambling. This will become effective on 12th December 2022. Much of the policy centres on the application process for new premises licences. It is our view that much of this content is equally important for existing operators in Westminster, and should be taken into account. It should be studied carefully. If necessary, advice and training should be sought and reviews should be undertaken of key documents such as the LARA and other regulatory compliance procedures.  

So in conclusion, much has changed. The policy creates a new regulatory framework, and in all of the circumstances, we would advise operators to start the process of understanding the implications of the policy, reviewing key documents (including the LARA) and training general managers/key members of staff on the significant changes.

We are of course more than happy to discuss this note in detail with those who may be affected.

General

  • The new policy comes into effect on 12 December 2022.
  • The policy has changed (59 pages to 315 pages), and is significantly more detailed.
  • This note intends to look at general and specific points raised within the new policy.
  • “Your Duty as a Licence Venue Operator” – Paragraphs B1.77 – B1.81 (page 28) confirms that licensees must make themselves familiar with the law and their responsibilities set out within the Equality Act 2010 and relevant guidance for businesses; this Act makes discrimination against any person unlawful. Each operator will need to make an assessment of its own practices and policies, common best practice can be found at B1.81.
  • “Promoting Environmental Best Practice in Gambling Premises” – Paragraphs B1.85 – B1.91 (pages 29-31) sets out Westminster’s expectation in relation to creating a cleaner and greener city by following regulatory duties but also best practice. Best practice is set out in these paragraphs including minimising waste, improving energy efficiency and reducing traffic on the roads.
  • Other initiatives include:
    • GamCare Accreditation – the policy provides detail on the Safer Gambling Standard offer by GamCare, (there is no requirement to become accredited.) Our view is that as it is mentioned in the policy, operators should give significant consideration to becoming GamCare accredited.
    • Bet Watch/Gamble Watch Schemes are a partnership between the Police, WCC, licensed gambling premises operators and the Gambling Commission. It is designed to tackle localised anti-social behaviour and criminal behaviour in and around betting shops. Membership of a scheme is not mandatory – participation in a scheme will be seen as a positive step by the Licensing Authority (B1.96 – B1.97, page 31-32).

Gambling Risk Assessment Policy

  • Existing operators are required to review their risk assessments if there are significant changes:

(1) in the local circumstances;

(2) changes to the premises;

(3) variations of the premises licence;

(4) after a Post Serious Incident Assessment (covered below).

  • “Significant changes in local circumstances” – Paragraphs C1.7 – C1.11 (pages 36-37) this is only applicable when the change is significant. It may mean after reviewing that no action is necessary and if this is the case, operators should record that a review has taken, why it had occurred and that no action was necessary. C1.10 sets out a list of examples of what WCC would consider significant changes i.e. any new payday loan or pawn broker opening.
  • “Significant changes to the premises” – Paragraphs C1.12 – C1.16 (pages 37-38). For any premises refit, changes to layout or internal control measures, it is expected that gambling operators will undertake the risk assessment process. C1.14 sets out what WCC would consider significant changes to the premises i.e. if gambling facilities are relocated within the premises. Please note WCC will not, as a general practice, request a copy of the reviewed risk assessment unless it necessitates a variation application.
  • “Variation of the premises licence” – Paragraphs C1.17 – C1.19 (page 38) should a variation application be submitted, an operator may consider (we would advise doing this) submitting a copy of the reviewed local risk assessment when submitting the application. Specifically if it is to vary a converted casino premises licence, then a new risk assessment should be done.
  • “Regular review of risk assessments” – Paragraphs C1.20 – C1.21 (page 38) WCC recommend that no more than 3 years should pass before assessments are reviewed. It also specifically states that: “operators may wish to synchronise their reviews of the local risk assessments with the publication of the council’s Statement Of Licensing Principles for Gambling.” This would enable gambling operators to consider the local area profile, which has been published in the council’s statement of licensing principles for gambling. Again, we would advise that this be done in line with the WCC thinking.
  • WCC state that the risk assessment process is split down between the assessment of local risks and the determination of the appropriate mitigation to reduce those risks. Risks include: Local area risks, gambling operational risks, premises design risks, interior design risks, and exterior design risks (C1.27 and C1.37, pages 39-40).
  • Control Measures – Paragraphs C1.38 – C1.41 (page 41) state that control measures may be a combination of systems, design and physical measures. These are covered in those paragraphs.
  • The ‘Four Step Process’ in producing a risk assessment is set out in paragraphs C1.45 – C1.51 (pages 42-43). They emphasise the use of the local area profile for Westminster and indeed step 4 relates to an ‘Action Plan’. Whereby once an assessment has been carried out, an action plan should be completed so that any identified actions are documented and the deadline for completing the required piece of work is set and agreed.
  • A template LARA is found at Appendix 6 (pages 285-293). It has a particular layout and structure; it also incorporates the ‘Action Plan’ that sets tasks and responsibilities for named individuals. You do not have to use WCC’s template, but we would strongly recommend it.
  • It is our advice that the new policy creates an obligation to review the LARA.

Licensing Objective Policies

Preventing Gambling from being a source of Crime and Disorder – D1.1-D1.13, Pages 45-48

  • It is our advice that if a terrorism threat risk assessment exists, then it should be reassessed against this section of the policy. If one does not exist, then it would be best practice to introduce a risk assessment.
  • Whilst conducting a review of the LARA, the following are key considerations to take into account in relation to crime and disorder:
    • The levels of crime and disorder in and around the venue.
    • The proposed operation of the premises and the types of gambling activities that will be provided.
    • The staffing levels that will be provided during the time when the premises provide facilities for gambling.
    • Whether there is a history of crime or disorder associated with the premises, the operator or similar gambling premises uses.
    • Whether the premises, operator or similar gambling premises uses have been used by those involved in crime to associate, carry out other criminal activities or dispose of the proceeds for crime.
    • Whether the premises have been designed and considered so as to minimise opportunities for crime and disorder.
    • Whether the operators of the premises have been or will be fully cooperative with enforcement agencies.
    • Whether the Gambling Commission Codes of Practice have been complied with.
  • WCC encourages existing operators to have due consideration to any specific protective security advice provided by the Counter Terrorism Security Advisors or other parties acting on behalf of the Police or other government agency or Responsible Authority. Should a Terrorism Threat Risk Assessment (TTRA) be produced in line with the above encouragement, the WCC will not scrutinise it, but if one is produced then it must be available to the police acting in their role to prevent and detect crime (D1.12, page 47). Advice on this is available via the National Counter Terrorism Security Office website at nactso.gov.uk (D1.13, page 47).

Ensuring That Gambling is Conducted in a Fair and Open Way

  • Nothing specific for current operators.

Protecting Children and Other Vulnerable Persons From Being Harmed or Exploited by Gambling Policy – D3.1-D3.69 Pages 52-62

  • Knowing your customer is a key issue of potential change in the White Paper/amendments to the Gambling Act. It is clear from the new Westminster policy that managing premises to exclude children and protect vulnerable people is one of the central tenants of the policy.
  • It confirms that the WCC definition of vulnerable persons is the one that the Gambling Commission adopt. This can be found at paragraph D3.3.
  • The perceived vulnerable include: young people, unemployed and constrained economic circumstance, area deprivation, homeless, mental ill health, substance abuse/misuse, personality traits/cognitive distortions, problem gamblers seeking treatment.
  • WCC view that the preventing of underage access should be a major consideration for any operator (D3.26, page 56).  Failure to implement effective measures will be dealt with strictly by the Licensing Authority.  Measures to monitor and prevent child access are set out in paragraph D3.29 (page 56).
  • ‘Protecting (Safeguarding) Children’ – Paragraph D3.23 (page 55) confirms operators should demonstrate policies and procedures that will prevent children and young people from entering or partaking in gambling activities.  D3.24 confirms that licensees must ensure that children do not gain access to restricted areas and that age verification is conducted to ensure compliance. Specifically stating at paragraph D3.30 (page 56) the minimum measures that gambling operators are expected to maintain and keep under review their systems and processes in relation to children.
  • Paragraph D3.33 (page 57) states that staff working in gambling premises should be trained and provided with the appropriate procedures to enable them to identify and report child-safeguarding concerns. Operators should also embed safeguarding within their senior management and ensure that one or more people within the organisation are known as safeguarding leads for staff to contact and get advice if needed. WCC expects all operators to be aware of child truancy during school times. This should form part of the operator’s risk assessment and WCC would encourage engagement with local schools where this is an issue.
  • ‘Protecting vulnerable adults with cognitive impairment’ – Paragraph D3.40 – D3.44 (pages 58-59) WCC encourages licensees to ensure that they consider the risk of harm and exploitation of adults as seriously as they do for child protection measures. These are set out at Paragraphs D3.45 – D3.61 (pages 59-61). Wider harms include the following: self-neglect, modern slavery, domestic abuse, discriminatory, physical, sexual, financial or material, neglect and act of omission, emotional or psychological, major crime and radicalisation.
  • ‘Gambling Operators Duty’ – Paragraphs D3.62 – D3.69 (pages 61-62). It states that WCC believe that gambling operators have a responsibility to protect adults who may or may not be partaking in a gambling activity provided at the premises. Staff working in gambling premises need to be able to identify adults who are vulnerable.
  • In particular, WCC policy requires licensees to demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding vulnerable adults by striving to embed safeguarding within the culture of their organisation as a gambling premises (D3.65, page 61). Individuals who work for the gambling operator need to be informed to a sufficient level to ensure that complaints and concerns about children and adults at risk are properly identified and acted upon (D3.66).
  • Gambling operators will need to consider the likely risks associated with protecting children from harm, including in premises to which children should not be admitted. This is equally the same for protecting vulnerable adults from harm (D3.67, page 62).
  • Paragraph D3.68 (page 62) states that operators are expected to review the risk and may produce a Safeguarding Adults Policy and Procedure document, which is separate from any Safeguarding Children Policy and Procedure document. In addition, there should also be an appropriate referral model that offers direction to staff on how to respond, what they should record and when they should report internally and externally to statutory agencies.  Again, to strengthen any application we would advise that a Safeguarding Adult Policy and Procedure document is drafted.
  • Once these specific policies and procedures are put in place, operators will also need to ensure that staff are suitably trained and that someone in the organisation can act as a point of contact for staff (D3.69, page 62).

Hours Policy NB

  • As it currently stands, the detail is not yet on the Westminster website, and AGC/FECs operators should continue to monitor for updates in relation to this section.
  • Adult Gaming Centres, Licensed and Unlicensed FECs are required to operate to the hours specified in the Westminster Byelaw. Operators of these premises will be able to submit a request to WCC proposing an amendment to the hours specified in Regulation 4 of the Byelaw. Requests must be made in writing and comply with the relevant requirements from the council for such requests. Further information on the process for amending these byelaw hours are available from the WCC’s website (E1.2, page 65).
  • Operators are expected to be aware of ‘binge’ gambling, where a customer who may be previously unknown becomes vulnerable by gambling more than they can afford, or more than they want to. Longer hours, particularly at night, present increased risks of customers becoming vulnerable and operators will be expected to demonstrate how they will mitigate such risks (E1.10, page 67).

Spatial Policies

  • Any review of LARAs should take into consideration the issues raised in the sections under Gambling Vulnerability Zones. Mitigation measures should be placed in the LARA showing how operators will be consistent with the licensing objectives, bearing in mind the localised issues.
  • There are now Gambling Vulnerability Zones (GVZs) – These are areas that form clusters of risk within the Local Area Profile vulnerability index as being identified areas within the city that have greater concentrations of specific groups or premises that may increase the risk of gambling related harm in that area (Policy F2).
  • WCC expect operators with existing premises in such areas to have particular regard to the issues within the locality and clearly demonstrate how associated risks are to be mitigated (F2.4, page 75).

Gambling Vulnerability Zones Policy

  • This states that whilst aiming to permit an application, the Licensing Authority may, nonetheless refuse applications that seek to provide gambling facilities within the Gambling Vulnerability Zone. Unless sufficient reasons for mitigation have been provided and the Licensing Authority is satisfied, the application should be granted in accordance.
  • There are seven specific GVZs as set out in paragraphs F2.1-F2.29 (pages 74-82). Each is covered in specific detail, but they include:
    1. West End (East)
    2. North Westminster
    3. Covent Garden and The Strand (East)
    4. Pimlico and Belgravia
    5. Bayswater and Lancaster Gate
    6. Paddington (South)
    7. Victoria
  • Should you be looking to submit an application in one of these areas then the specific GVZ should be studied in detail.
  • Whilst much of the text in this section deals with new applications, it would be important to look at the impact of these sections whilst revisiting a Local Area Risk Assessment if your premises fall within one of the Gambling Vulnerability Zones. There is a clear steer here from Westminster that there are perceived issues in these areas, and we should be having robust policies in place to deal with those issues.

Gambling Premises Use Policies

  • It is extremely important that if making an application that the relevant type of premises use policy is considered in detail. Each new use policy is approximately 20 pages and sets out the exact requirements and new policies that are required to be produced.
  • For example, in the Betting Premises Policy – G3 it sets out the new specific policies, such as the ‘Betting Premises Cashier Counters Policy – G3-B (page 135)’. WCC expect applicants to include this policy within their gambling risk assessment setting out details of identified risks, placement of the cashier counter, its operation and what control measures will be used to mitigate or eliminate those risks. It is our view that these as well as being incorporated into the risk assessment, should also be standalone policies.
  • The above is just one specific example, there are now approximately a further 18 Betting Premises related policies. All need to be addressed specifically via a policy and to be considered within an applicant’s risk assessment.
  • There are policies created for each of the specific gambling uses permitted under premises licences, and it is important therefore that all policies should be reviewed as a LARA is reviewed, and amendments made accordingly.

Addition of Post Serious Incident Assessment

  • There remains a section on the ‘reviewing’ of gambling premises licences, but now in addition WCC may conduct a ‘Post Serious Incident Assessment’ (PSIA) with the Police. (N1.1 – N1.5, pages 236-237).
  • If a serious incident occurs in a licensed premises, a PSIA may be implemented.  During the assessment, WCC will assess what happened, how the operator’s policies, procedures and/or control measures functioned and then determine whether amendments are required to these.
  • WCC and the Police during the process may propose additional or amended conditions and will expect operators to proceed with a variation application to accommodate these changes.  Operators will also need to update their risk assessment after such an incident.
  • The PSIA may lead to a review of the premises licence if deemed necessary by WCC and the Police.
  • It is our view that if a good qualitative review of LARAs and policies has been undertaken prior to an unfortunate serious incident, then a review could be avoided after a post-serious incident assessment. It is important that protection is created by this enhanced due diligence.
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Gambling for UK Operators in 2022

WoodsWhur are delighted to confirm the return of their Gambling Conference at the Hippodrome on the 2nd November 2022. It is a very important time for the Industry with the imminent publication of the White Paper and other significant issues continuing to impact on Gambling operators. Speakers will include Philip Kolvin KC and Rob Burkitt from the Gambling Commission. 

2 November 2022

10:00 – 15.00

Hippodrome Casino

Cranbourn St, Leicester Sq, London, WC2H 7JH

 

Agenda

Update on legislation and guidance

Case studies on compliance and regulation for regulators and operators

Implications of the White Paper

Networking opportunities

Gambling Commission and local authority speakers

Philip Kolvin KC

 

 

To find out more information about this event please email: Info@woodswhur.co.uk

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Extended Licensing Hours Granted for the Platinum Jubilee

Further to our previous article on this, Parliament has passed an Order to extend licensing hours in pubs, clubs and bars across England and Wales from 2300hrs to 0100hrs the following morning on Thursday 2nd June, Friday 3rd June and Saturday 4th June; to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. It will provide the opportunity for people to continue their celebrations of this tremendous event over the Bank Holiday.

 

The Order will apply to premises already licensed until or after 2300 for the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises, for the provision of late night refreshment (only where there is also the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises) in England and Wales. This, therefore, would not apply to takeaways who only had late night refreshment on their premises licence, and does not apply at all to premises in Scotland. It should be noted that these extra hours are subject to their existing licence conditions.

 

Those that have looked in detail at the Order including its Explanatory Note will note that it is silent in relation to regulated entertainment. This is in contrast to the Explanatory Memorandum and Draft Explanatory Memorandum that specifically mention its application to regulated entertainment. To that end, our interpretation of the Order that has been made and came into force on 4 May 2022, is that it would allow for the extension of licensing hours for all licensable activities that were already on the premises licence and were already licensed until or after 2300.

 

As the Order was passed to delegated committees in the Lords and Commons to debate, there are no records of the comment on Hansard for the final Order that was passed. However, having looked back at the Hansard scripts of 25th April 2022 in relation to the Draft Order and the Explanatory Memorandums, it confirms that regulated entertainment was very much deemed to be covered in the Order. The Hansard script also confirms that the Order was not to apply to Take-Aways, Off Licences or Supermarkets.

 

As per our previous article, should it be felt that you require longer hours than 0100, then please do reach out to the Woods Whur Team in order to submit a Temporary Event Notice for this. Again, by way of reminder, a standard TEN requires 10 working days notice, and a late TEN at least 5 working days notice. With the event now being under one month away, we urge you to let us have the relevant details should you wish to apply for any TENs.

 

Please see the link to the passed Order – https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2022/504/note/made

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An update from the Gambling World

As usual, we would be really grateful if someone could look into their crystal ball and let us know what is going to happen next with the Gambling Act review….

We’ve had lots of theories passed on to us about the likely outcome of the review, but so far the official position is not much further forward that a year ago when the review was first announced. Apparently the government’s white paper is due in May- so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for some more news soon, but for now this is the current position.

The Review of the Gambling Act 2005 Terms of Reference and Call for Evidence began on 08 December 2020. The Call for Evidence included a number of questions and covered-

Online protections (players and products), Advertising, sponsorship and branding, Gambling Commission’s powers and resources, Consumer Redress, Age limits and verification and Land based gambling.

Any responses to this were due at midnight on Wednesday 31st March 2021. Much muttering between March 2021 and March 2022, but really not a whole lot of news.

On 08 March 2022, Minister Chris Philp’s gave a keynote speech at the Gambling Reform Rally organised by the Gambling Related Harm APPG and Peers for Gambling Reform. In this speech he put a great deal of emphasis on gambling harms and the need to reform in order to protect the vulnerable, referencing a number of high profile incidents in which customers were sadly allowed to gamble beyond their means. Focus was placed on operators and their duties to customers.

Again emphasis is being placed on what more can be done to protect these vulnerable persons, and in particular how technology can be utilised to provide further protections-  or to highlight any malpractice. Hints are given to extending the Commission’s powers to access and analyse data collected by operators. Similarly the speech leans away from self-regulation and towards greater intervention, and power, of the Commission.

It is acknowledged that a reasonable and practicable approach should be taken, with clear guidance and thresholds as to who should be monitored more closely, rather than a blanket system being adopted. It is also acknowledged that individuals are free to gamble, but that operators must do more to prevent any vulnerable persons from being able to gamble.

Within this speech Mr Philp’s stated the White Paper was in the process of being finalised…

The Gambling Commission are committed to responding to this White Paper as soon as it is published, but no time estimate is given.

Also mentioned in Mr Philp’s speech, and recently announced by the Gambling Commission, is a set of new rules which will come into force on 12 September 2022. These rules are aimed at customer protection and are dependant on operator intervention.

They require operators to:

  • monitor a specific range of indicators, as a minimum, to identify gambling harm. These indicators must include:
    • customer spend
    • patterns of spend
    • time spent gambling
    • gambling behaviour indicators
    • customer-led contact
    • use of gambling management tools
    • account indicators
  • flag indicators of harm and take action in a timely manner
  • implement automated processes for strong indicators of harm
  • prevent marketing and the take-up of new bonuses for at risk customers
  • evaluate their interactions and ensure they interact with consumers at least at the level of problem gambling for the relevant activity
  • evidence their customer interaction evaluation to the Gambling Commission during routine casework
  • comply with these requirements at all times, this includes ensuring the compliance of third-party provider

Further guidance on this is expected to be issued in June.

These new rules follow closely to the customer interaction and social responsibility guidance already available, and build onto what is becoming a very prescriptive customer experience.

 

If you have any queries on the above please contact Amanda Usher ( Amanda@woodswhur.co.uk) or Andy Woods (andrew@woodswhur.co.uk).

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Are cumulative impact policies yesterday’s news?

We have written before about many authority areas suspending their cumulative impact policies as the leisure and entertainment industry fight back from COVID. Some authority areas are steadfast sticking to their cumulative impact policies, whereas many have removed them altogether. What is very clear from my recent experience is that quality applications by quality operators involving significant pre-application liaison with statutory authorities are being well received.

I have recently had licences granted for a new Banyan and a new Manahatta in listed buildings in the centre of Nottingham. These premises are both situated in where the cumulative impact policy used to bite. However, Nottingham have taken an enlightened view and removed their cumulative impact policy, so to allow for quality operators to make applications and liaise with the statutory authorities. Both of the applications in Nottingham were the subject of considerable pre-application and post-application negotiation with the Police and Responsible Authorities. I am certain, knowing the landscape from years of experience in Nottingham, that both of these applications would have been resisted but for the change in the cumulative impact policy. These are two fabulous listed buildings where Arc Inspirations will invest multi-million pounds in bringing the premises back to life and thereafter, contributing to the local economy through the payment of business rates and bringing about of significant local employment. Arc Inspirations have been keen to make a presence in Nottingham, believing that their premises will be well received and will promote the licensing objectives.

One area which has not removed its cumulative impact area is Newcastle. Arc Inspirations had aspired to open a Manahatta in the former Allied Irish bank in Collingwood Street, Newcastle, for over three years. Obviously, their plans were put on hold during the COVID period. Newcastle determined not to remove their cumulative impact policy, and the premises fell within their special stress area. Prior to the application being lodged, we held a number of meetings with the responsible authorities. However, they felt that there was a need to support the cumulative impact policy and representations were made by the Police, the Licensing Authority, Environmental Health, Public Health, ward councillors, residents and local businesses. In the run up to the heavily contested hearing, we maintained a contact with all of these parties and spoke to them in detail about our case, and why we felt that the application was “exceptional” and should be allowed, even though against policy. The matter went to a full hearing in front of the Licensing Sub-Committee, who determined that in all of the circumstances, we had satisfied them, that this was an exception, and that the benefit to Newcastle far outweighed any potential for compromise to the licensing objectives. The pre-application work and Arc’s track record, both in Newcastle and nationally, went a long way towards the licence being granted.

We are also in the process of lodging applications in Liverpool and Bristol, where the cumulative impact policies had been removed, and we have had a fabulous reception in relation to the pre-application negotiations with all of the responsible authorities.

It is very clear that there is a huge amount of square footage available on most high streets due to the significant decline in retail operations. An enlightened view of cumulative impact policies, and their current relevance, is now being seen.

I have long been an opponent of cumulative impact policies. My view has always been that they can create an artificial ceiling where existing operators – in an area that is deemed as being under stress – can have little incentive to improve their offer or reinvest. They are sure and certain that no new licences can come in and drive up quality. I think they can have an adverse effect on an area. If there is no cumulative impact policy – any application can still be judged as to whether it is going to promote the licensing objectives or whether it would have an adverse effect.

It would be interesting to see whether other authority areas follow suit with those that are removing their cumulative impact policies. I am certainly seeing that operators who could really bring a fabulous offer to an area, are picking towns where they know that they will be welcomed. Many are looking to bring about multi-million pound investments, creating jobs but with a limited budget. In all of those circumstances, they are bound to pick areas where they feel they will be well received.

Manchester City Centre has long been a fabulous example of an environment where the lack of a cumulative impact policy shows a significant example of investment from first class operators who promote the licensing objectives.

Long live the enlightened view.

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Government Approve Extra Hours for Platinum Jubilee Celebrations

After consultation, the Government has decided that it will be proceeding with a proposal to make a Licensing Hours Order under Section 172 of the Licensing Act 2003. It has been confirmed that the licensing hours in England and Wales (this is not applicable to Scotland) will be relaxed to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and to celebrate the longest reigning monarch in the United Kingdom.

The order will apply to premises already licensed until 2300hrs for the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises, for the provision of late-night refreshment (only where there is also the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises), and for the provision of regulated entertainment in England and Wales. This, therefore, would not apply to takeaways who only had late night refreshment on their premises licence and does not apply at all to premises in Scotland.

The extension of hours will apply to Thursday 2nd June, Friday 3rd June and Saturday 4th June, whereby the terminal hour will be extended from 2300hrs to 0100hrs the following day.

This may alleviate the need for applying for a Temporary Event Notice (“TEN”)for many premises.

Should it be felt that longer hours are required for later than the 0100 extension, then please do reach out to the Woods Whur team in order to submit a Temporary Event Notice for this, or any other period. By way of a reminder, a standard TEN requires 10 working days notice and a late TEN at least 5 working days notice. We would, therefore, urge you to let us have the relevant details should you wish to apply for any TENs.

https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2022-03-21/hcws701

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The Latest Gambling Commission Fines and Decisions in Relation to Social Responsibility and Anti-Money Laundering

As we enter a new financial year a few operators will be rubbing their heads as they eye up the fines issued by the Gambling Commission over the last few months. One of the more notable, although seemingly not directly relevant for the vast majority of operators, being the £3.15 million levied at Camelot UK Limited for failures relating to its mobile app. Whilst the fine for the soon to be outgoing national lottery operator is both relatively small and not relatable for a number of operators- it is important to look behind the headlines and discover what reasons, or failings, have been identified.

In the case of Camelot, the failings are actually multi-operator relevant. The first two failings relate to technological issues- a warning to operators that the regulator is interested in and will investigate such failures. Remembers changes to gambling facilities will likely be a key event notification.

The third failing is of particular note, the operator failed to prevent marketing messages going out to individuals who had self-excluded. Perhaps even more noteworthy is the fact none of those who had the marketing messages sent to them were then able to participate in the lottery. This goes some way to demonstrate the need for effective systems in place throughout, one failing did not lead to another arguable larger, failing. In the circumstances the Commission decided that whilst there were issues to address, ‘There was no evidence of reckless or negligent behaviour presented and nor was there any attempt to conceal’ in relation to governance and controls.

Sky Betting and Gaming also came under the spotlight this month for issues of self-exclusion, with a number of their own self-excluded customers receiving promotional marketing material. The Commission followed this fine up with a warning to all operators to check their policies and procedures are robust enough to prevent any occurrences of self-excluded customers being contacted in such a way. Such failings are in direct contravention of SRCP 3.5.3(2) which states that Licensees must, as soon as practicable, take all reasonable steps to prevent any marketing material being sent to a self-excluded customer.

Larger fines for wider failings relating to social responsibility and anti-money laundering handed out this month provide some hidden and helpful guidance for operators. With a great deal of anti-money laundering guidance being risk based, any operators seeking more practical guidance may find the news section of the Gambling Commission website of great use.

Take for example the finding of not effectively identifying players at risk of harm because their policies determined financial checks should be carried out after a customer had deposited £40,000. This is a clear steer to amend procedures to carry out such checks before a customer is allowed to play. Similarly the findings provide some useful tips of what is not acceptable in terms of customer interactions. Customer interactions of course vary from operator to operator and venue to venue, with so many factors at play determining how such an interaction is to be carried out. Some ‘what not to do’s’ are useful for staff training as well as updating policies-

  • Failing to establish adequate financial limits and spends as triggers
  • Not making customers aware of the full range of tools and options available to self-limit
  • Not conducting proactive analysis of spend
  • An email to customers without any further interaction required.

The most prominent findings in the case against Genesis Global Limited related to ‘meaningful’ customer interactions and only asking questions after the event. Once again a reminder for operators to use the Gambling Commissions guidance on customer interactions (identify-interact-evaluate) and ensure their staff are carrying out thorough interactions with customers. Being proactive is another key theme over the last couple of months, there is a lot of technology available to assist operators which can be explored- but as Camelot has demonstrated be careful not to rely solely on technology, if it fails a backup will be needed.

The need to evidence policies in practice is hammered home again by these findings. It is not enough to have a set of perfectly drafted policies and procedures gathering dust, they must be implemented and operators need to be able to evidence this.

Keep up to date with the latest news by signing up to the Gambling Commissions newsletter on their website and the Woods Whur newsletter by emailing us at info@woodswhur.co.uk.

For any gambling related queries please contact your usual Woods Whur contact or amanda@woodswhur.co.uk or andrew@woodswhur.co.uk.

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Leeds Licensing Red Zone – Possible Changes

Through a new Police and Public Health backed scheme, operators in the Leeds City Council designated ‘Red’ Cumulative Impact Zone, may see that their premises are taken out of the Red status.

The Red Cumulative Impact Zones within the City Centre are based on the amount of crime and disorder, anti-social behaviour, public disorder instances and general drunkenness in that area. It is not connected to individual premises, but the area itself.

The Police and operators have been trying to work out ways of reducing the associated issues in the Red areas for many years. Should this be achieved then it would allow them to be taken out of the Red areas.  This would ‘pave the way’ for new applications, applications for extra hours, extra floor space with additional capacity, etc, without automatic objections from West Yorkshire Police and Leeds City Council.

The West Yorkshire Violent Crime Reduction Unit and West Yorkshire Public Health Reducing Violent Crime Network are offering to fund places on a new scheme called ‘Licensing SAVI’ (Licensing Security And Vulnerability Initiative) which is to be offered out free of charge to alcohol led premises in the Red zone of the City Centre. The Licensing SAVI scheme encourages venues to improve their operational security and management practices year on year using an online self-assessment.  This includes all the Police and Council licensing information that venues need to meet statutory licensing requirement for safety and security. Venues can be awarded a star rating, and apply for Licensing SAVI accreditation.

The Police are hopeful that if all alcohol led venues sign up to do these online self-assessments and achieve accreditation, that crime will reduce in the Red areas and ultimately Leeds City Council should be able to do away with the Red areas in the city.

The Police are urging ‘buy-in’ from everyone in the Red areas. It will see a structured way of all operators working together to achieve a common goal that will benefit all.

Those premises that sign up will receive 4 points off their licensing matrix score, plus a further 4 points off should they receive accreditation. All operators who wish to benefit from the scheme should let the West Yorkshire Police Licensing Team have an expression of interest as soon as possible.

If this is introduced and it does, as hoped, lead to a reduction in crime this will be of a real benefit to all, not just the operators of Leeds but also those that frequent the great city.

Further free places will be offered to the rest of the city once the results of the Red Zone pilot scheme have been assessed

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Westminster City Council ‘Revised’ Gambling Policy

Westminster City Council (WCC) were required to review and revise their gambling policy before 30 January 2022 under the Gambling Act 2005. WCC carried out a consultation on two proposals, the first being to make some revisions to the current version of the gambling policy. The second element of the consultation was the proposal to publish a completely new and far lengthier version of the gambling policy in early 2022.

This article relates to the revisions made by WCC. Following that consultation, WCC adopted the revised statement of principles for gambling within Westminster on the 10 November 2021. The revised statement took effect from 31 January 2022 and all subsequent determinations of any gambling applications will be considered under this revised statement.

It is currently unknown when the new lengthier version of the gambling policy will come into force, but it is thought that it will be in the very near future.

Changes in the Revised Gambling Policy

Overall, there appear to be few changes made within the revised policy, however, they are worth bringing to the attention of readers:

Paragraph 3 – Westminster’s Geographical Area

The revised policy sees an update to this section. The previous statement dealt purely with the geographical area.  However, the revised policy now has three paragraphs relating to the gambling industry, including confirmation that the gambling industry contributes significantly to the UK economy. Further paragraphs go on to state that the council recognises that good management of its gambling industry is essential to continued success of central London.  It sets out that it expects licence operators to demonstrate best practice by being responsible, open, inclusive and equal operators. This section also touches on the vulnerable and that Westminster has a mid-level of reported demand and usage of treatment for problem gamblers.

Paragraph 6 – Gambling Risk Assessments

The previous statement had a section that refers readers to the vulnerability maps and access to Geofutures’ map case tool. In the revised version, it states that since the publication of Geofutures’ reports, several other research studies have been undertaken into the impact of gambling on the vulnerable. WCC has revised the Gambling Vulnerability Index devised by Geofutures to take into account new findings and more recent data on the resident population and services within the city that may indicate at risk groups. These findings can now be found within the council’s Local Area Profile, with a new link to this.

The only other minor amendments relate to the removal of images that were linked to the division of premises and access between premises.  In addition there is a different list of bodies consulted for the revised policy in 2021, and indeed an updated responsible authorities list.

These changes are not significant but should be considered by operators who may be attending Licensing Sub-Committee hearings to ensure that the relevant vulnerability indexes are consulted and dealt with accordingly.

Please see link to the revised policy: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/licensing/licensing-policy-and-strategy/statement-principles-gambling-westminster