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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 01/12/2005
Gambling Act 2005 - Briefing and Consultation



Summary & Purpose
This report summarises the latest position and timescale for implementing Waverley’s new responsibilities for licensing gambling. Introducing this new licensing regime will have staffing implications which are difficult to quantify at present.

APPENDIX B
Waverley Borough Council

LICENSING AND REGULATORY Committee
1ST DECEMBER 2005

Title:
GAMBLING ACT 2005 – BRIEFING AND CONSULTATION
[Wards Affected: All]

Summary and Purpose

This report summarises the latest position and timescale for implementing Waverley’s new responsibilities for licensing gambling. Introducing this new licensing regime will have staffing implications which are difficult to quantify at present.

Environmental Implications

There may be pressures for new development in the Borough to accommodate additional licensed gambling premises.

Social/Community Implications

The intention of the legislation is to modernise and simplify gambling legislation and to give adults additional choices for gambling as a leisure activity. There are, however, risks for people who already have gambling problems and to people who might develop a problem because of increased opportunities to gamble. The legislation acknowledges the need to protect children and vulnerable people, and this would be an important role for Waverley.

The legislation also acknowledges the risks of organised crime involvement, but this is largely an area for the Gambling Commission and the Police.

E-Government Implications

The Council set up a new IT system for liquor licensing and the intention is that this should allow on-line applications. The system has not yet gone live on the web, but should be in place by the time the Council receives gambling premises licence applications.

Resource and Legal Implications

Administering the new gambling licensing regime will need additional staffing input.

The Council may need to hold hearings into premises licence applications which may give rise to appeals. These could involve a further call for the Legal Section’s support. The Government has stated that fee levels should cover the Council’s costs, but until the initial process has been completed it will not be possible to establish that there has been no cost to the Council. The Council already licenses a few low payout fruit machines in premises without a liquor licence and also licenses small lotteries in the Borough, but these are small scale activities taking up only a small percentage of one post. Licensing of betting shops and bingo will also come within the new legislation. It is difficult to quantify the additional workload until the detailed regulations have been published and analysed.

Introduction

1. Officers reported to the July 2005 meeting of the Committee on the Gambling Act 2005. The key documents are the various sections of Guidance from the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) and the first of these has just been received in draft form, focusing on drafting a Statement of Gambling Policy. Officers will report on this to a future meeting. A brief guide to the Act produced by the DCMS is attached as Annexe 1.

2. In the meantime, the Gambling Commission, set up under the Act, has consulted Councils on its Statement of Principles on Licensing and Regulation. LACORS has also asked for an informal indication from the Council, as part of a national consultation, as to whether the Council is likely to be encouraging applicants to apply to establish one of the new large or small casinos in the Borough.

Timescale

3. A provisional timescale for the introduction of the new licensing regime is set out below:-

Likely Timetable:

December 2005 - draft GUIDANCE expected
o Local Authorities to start drafting a Gambling Policy
o May 2006 - Guidance in final
o June 2006 - Local Authority policy prepared
o June to August 2006 - Consultation on Local Authority policy
o Finalise policy - two months up to November/December 2006
o January 2007 - invite applications
o September 2007 - legislation in force.

4. If adopted, the Council will have to draft its policy statement and consult on it during next Spring/Summer and be ready to receive premises licence applications from January 2007, with licences effective from September 2007.

Gambling Commission Consultation

5. A large part of the Consultation relates to the Commission’s role in issuing Operator and Personal Licences.

6. The Council’s role is to consider applications for Premises Licences and for lotteries. The largest new area is to license all fruit machines, from small pay-out machines in pubs and other premises to large jackpot machines in clubs. The Council will also issue licences for the few betting shops and premises licensed for bingo in Waverley.

7. The Commission has consulted on the principles behind promoting the three licensing objectives, which are:

1. to prevent gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime;

2. to ensure that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way; and

3. to protect children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

8. The first and second objectives are largely for the Police and Commission, with the exception of disorder. This will be a role for the Council when determining applications for premises licences. The third objective will be the main consideration for the Council and an important part of its community safety and protecting young people objectives. An extract from the consultation document is attached at Annexe 2. The questions raise issues about the effectiveness of controls on access by and protection of children, judgements which the Council has experience of now with liquor licensing.

9. The next problematic area seems to be “protecting vulnerable persons”. The proposals in the document seem reasonable, but have not allayed fears of organisations that deal with people who have a problem with gambling, that the liberalising effects of the legislation will not inevitably increase existing problems and potentially expose more people to these problems.

Casino Licensing

10. The Act allows for the following immediate new premises to be licensed, the numbers referring to casinos throughout the whole of the country:-

1 new Regional Casino (this is expected to be allocated to Blackpool)
8 large casinos
8 small casinos

11. The Committee is asked to respond informally to the consultation for LACORS on whether or not Waverley would want to encourage applications for one of these new casinos within the Borough. The key to establishing the size of a casino will be the square footage of the licensed area.

Resource Implications

12. The experience of the liquor licensing transfer has shown that extreme workload peaks result from deadlines for various stages of the introduction of the new system. This is best dealt with by a combination of permanent and short term temporary posts, but these pose other problems of training, supervision and accommodation. The workload will coincide with the new responsibilities for enforcing liquor licensing and will continue the very heavy pressure on the Committee and Licensing, Legal and Environmental Health teams. The Committee may wish to ask the Executive to bear these in mind during the budget process.

Recommendation

The Committee is recommended:-

1. to note the draft timetable for implementation;

2. to agree any representations on the Gambling Commission consultation;

3. to decide if it wishes to give an informal indication to LACORS about the possibility of encouraging a casino in the Borough; and

4. to make representations to the Executive about the resource implications of transferring this new responsibility.

Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Robin Pellow Telephone: 01483 523222

E-mail: rpellow@waverley.gov.uk

comms/lic/05-06/151