London Borough of Richmond Gambling Policy Review 2021

Closed 6 Sep 2021

Opened 28 Jun 2021

Overview

The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames is calling on local residents, businesses, interest groups, faith groups and public agencies to have their say on the borough’s future gambling policy.

The Gambling Act 2005 requires all licensing authorities to prepare and publish a Gambling Act Statement of Policy and Principles every three years. A review of the current policy, which is due to expire in January 2022, is now underway. Please click here to view the Draft Gambling Act Statement of Policy and Principles.

The closing date for submitting consultation responses is  6 September 2021.

Background to the Gambling Policy

The Gambling Act 2005 (the Act) gives licensing authorities various regulatory functions in relation to gambling. The main functions of licensing authorities include:

  • issuing premises licences (in respect of casinos, bingo premises, betting shops, tracks, adult gaming centres, family entertainment centres)
  • considering notices given for the temporary use of premises for gambling
  • granting permits for gaming and gaming machines in clubs and in alcohol licensed premises
  • granting permits to family entertainment centres for the use of certain lower stake gaming machines
  • registration of small scale society lotteries

It should be noted that Local Authorities do not regulate online gambling.

The Gambling Act is based on three overriding objectives -

  • Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime
  • Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way
  • Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling

The Draft Gambling Act Statement of Policy and Principles explains this Authority’s position in respect of the objectives and informs the decision making on whether to grant an application, whether to add any, and if so, what conditions and whether to accept an application for the review of a licence or seek a review in its own right.

Licensing policies must be prepared in accordance with the Act. Guidance issued by the Gambling Commission prescribes the information that must be included in the policy, but the policy must also reflect local circumstances hence the importance of local consultation.

Proposed Gambling Policy 2022-2025

Since the licensing function was transferred from the Magistrate’s Court in 2007, this Authority has not seen a proliferation of new gambling outlets in the Borough. Neither have we received many complaints about the operation of gambling premises. Our policies have primarily reflected our commitment to ensuring that children and vulnerable persons are protected from harm or being exploited by gambling.

It is not proposed to make any substantial changes to the substance of the Statement as it has generally worked well in guiding both applicants and the Licensing Authority on the principles to be applied when determining applications under the Act, although the opportunity has been taken to remove sections that merely re-iterate legislation and to try to make the Policy clearer to read by making drafting changes.

However, it is proposed to make some additions as follows:

  1. To amplify the matters that the Authority will look at in determining whether two or more proposed premises are truly separate (Paragraph 12.14)
  2. To add a section to the statement regarding controlling where gaming machines may be played and plans and the Council's expectations with regard to information that should be provided on the plans submitted with all new or variation premises licence applications. This will assist in ensuring that premises are providing the gambling activity for which they are licenced, with any gaming machine provisions being ancillary only (Paragraphs 12.18-12.21)
  3. To highlight matters regarding the location of the premises that will be of particular note to this Authority when deciding an application (Paragraph 12.23), i.e whether it will be:
  • close to an educational establishment, including colleges and universities
  • close to a centre dealing with vulnerable people
  • situated in an area of high crime
  • situated in an area of deprivation
  • close to the location of services for children such as libraries and leisure centres
  • close to the location of businesses providing instant access to cash such as pay day loans, pawn shops
  • situated in a residential area where there is a high concentration of families with children

Risk assessment and local area profiles

Nationally, gambling policy and the regulatory environment overall has an increasing focus on risk. From April 2016, gambling establishment operators have been required to undertake ‘local area risk assessments’ for all their premises. The assessments have to be reviewed in response to significant changes in local circumstances, including those identified in licensing policies. Operators have to undertake a local risk assessment when applying for a new premises licence and when applying to vary their licence and must share these with licensing authorities when applying for a new or varied licence.

 Amendments have been made to this Statement of Policy to clearly indicate matters that the Authority would expect to be included in a local risk assessment. For example, if a gambling outlet is to be located within close proximity to a school we would expect licensees to have sufficient controls in place to mitigate associated risks, e.g. implementing a robust challenge 21 policy and ensuring that the premises is so designed that children cannot see gambling taking place.

In order to assist operators in the risk assessment process, this Authority will publish local area profiles. This will comprise a map forming part of the Statement of Policy showing amongst other matters the location of existing gambling premises, educational establishments, centres dealing with vulnerable persons, leisure centres, playgrounds, libraries, pay day loan and pawn shops  as well as information on the demographic, economic and crime profiles of the borough.

No casino policy

We are also seeking your views on whether we should continue the Council’s ‘no casino’ policy. 

The Council approved a ‘no casino’ resolution at its meeting on 12th December 2006 and re-stated it in 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2018. In making the resolution, full Council considered the following matters:

  • Consultation responses showed that the majority of respondents did not want a casino in the borough
  • Absence of an apparent demand by the gambling industry for a casino in the borough
  • No regeneration issues
  • The view of Members

There have been no changes to the profile of the borough that would indicate that the Council should change its position on resolving to adopt a ‘no casino’ policy and it is therefore proposed that the policy be re-stated.

How to respond
We would welcome your views on the above issues and to hear about any other changes you would wish to see in the policy and your reasons for them.

Please give us your views using the online survey link below. If you require paper copies of any of the consultation documents or any other format, please contact us at licensing@merton.gov.uk or call 020 8274 4901

Alternatively you can email your comments to licensing@merton.gov.uk or send written responses to:

Licensing Section (LB Richmond), Regulatory Services Partnership, Merton Civic Centre, London Road, Surrey SM4 5DX

Any comments you send should clearly state your name, any organisation or persons you may be responding on behalf of and your address. Please state that your comments relate to L.B. Richmond Gambling Policy Statement.

The consultation runs until the 6 September 2021.

Next steps

We will then consider all the responses and amend the proposed policy as appropriate. The updated policy will then be considered by the Regulatory Committee and by full Council later this year.

It should be noted that the Gambling Commission Guidance advises that demand for gambling premises and morality issues are not considerations under this legislation. Therefore the authority will not be in a position to consider any comments of this nature.

Areas

  • All Areas

Audiences

  • Open to all

Interests

  • Richmond Borough