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Licensing Authority Bulletin June 2020


Information for operators re-opening land-based gambling premises

From 15 June, betting shops in England are permitted to open.

We have published some FAQs aimed at helping operators manage compliance with Government Covid-19 guidance on reopening with continued compliance with the Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP).

At this time no other gambling premises in England are permitted to open and no announcements have been made about premises in Scotland and Wales.

Latest gambling statistics published

Gambling industry statistics are published twice a year (in May and November) with the latest statistics covering the period between October 2018 – September 2019. (Please note that the data covered in these industry statistics does not include the Covid-19 period).

Headline findings include:

  • £14.3bn – Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) of the gambling industry in Great Britain (GB) (Oct 2018 – September 2019) (0.5% decrease from Apr 2018 – Mar 2019)
  • 9,745 – total number of premises in GB (September 2019) (9.6% decrease from March 2019)
  • 7,315 – number of betting shops in GB (September 2019) (12.1% decrease from March 2019)
  • £2.5bn – GGY for gaming machines in GB (October 2018 – September 2019) (11.8% decrease from April 2018 – March 2019) (excludes those requiring only a local authority permit)
  • £624m – GGY for category B2 machines in GB (October 2018 – September 2019) (46.4% decrease from April 2018 - March 2019)
  • £1.3bn – GGY for category B3 machines in GB (October 2018 – September 2019) (18.5% increase from April 2018 - March 2019)
  • £1.1bn – GGY for land-based casinos in GB (October 2018 – September 2019) (0.6% decrease from April 2018 – March 2019)

Publication of data showing the impact of Covid-19 on gambling behaviour

We have published data showing the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on gambling behaviour during the first full month of lockdown in April. The data, collected from the largest online operators and the YouGov (opens in new tab) Covid-19 tracker, shows overall participation has decreased but some engaged players are spending more time and money gambling on certain products.

No uplift in complaints in illegal gambling

New data released shows that there has been no increase in the number of complaints about illegal gambling websites during Britain’s Covid-19 lockdown. The number of reports has been stable over the past twelve months with a total of 12 complaints to the Commission about nine sites in March, and 11 complaints surrounding 11 sites during April.

Funding for gambling treatment during Covid-19

The Commission has directed £9m in funds from regulatory settlements to tackle gambling related harm across the country. The money, for use by GambleAware (opens in new tab) and its partners, will be directed to help ensure treatment and support services can continue to operate effectively and withstand additional pressures on their services caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Children's exposure to to TV ads for gambling and alcohol

The ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) (opens in new tab) has published its latest report looking at trends in children’s exposure to television ads for alcohol and gambling (opens in new tab). Data from 2019 shows that whilst children’s overall exposure to TV advertising has almost halved since 2008 exposure to gambling products or services has returned to similar levels as those seen in 2008

  • In 2019, children saw, on average, 2.5 TV gambling ads per week (compared to 2.2 per week in 2008).
  • Children’s exposure to gambling ads peaked in 2013 (at an average of 4.4 ads per week) since when it has decreased by just under half
  • Gambling ads made up less than 2% of all the TV ads that children saw, on average, in a week every year between 2008 and 2017. This increased slightly to 2.2% in 2018 and at 2.1% in 2019.

National gambling education and support programme launched

GamCare (opens in new tab) and YGAM (opens in new tab) are working together to provide a new national gambling education and support programme for young people aged 11-19 across the UK.

The initiative will equip a generation of young people to better understand the risks associated with gambling and engage with gambling products and environments in an informed way.

Study to investigate the impact of Covid-19 on gamblers

A major new study has been launched (opens in new tab) by the Universities of Stirling and Glasgow to understand how the COVID-19 lockdown has impacted gambling behaviour, including among potentially high risk groups. The 18-month project will consider the effect of the pandemic restrictions on young adults and sports bettors – and analyse the promotion and marketing of gambling products during the lockdown.

LA Bulletin June 2020 - Consultations

Consultation on regulatory panel reforms

We are currently consulting on a number of proposals (opens in new tab) to ensure that our Regulatory Panels are best equipped to deal with our evolving casework. Cases can be referred to a Regulatory Panel for determination at the request of the applicant and or licensee and or if their scale, complexity, or novelty are of strategic importance to the Commission. The consultation closes on 26 June 2020.

LA Bulletin June 2020 - Advice and guidance updates

Society lottery reforms from July 2020

Following a consultation held last year, the following changes to limits and guidance around society lotteries will take effect from the 29 July 2020.

Limits on the size of society lotteries will be raised in line with recent Government legislation. This will mean:

  • The limit of individual draw proceeds will rise to £5million from £4million,
  • The annual aggregate limit proceeds will increase to £50million, up from £10million, and;
  • The maximum individual prize will rise to £500,000 from £400,000, provided that the lottery proceeds reach the new maximum individual draw level.

Requirements and guidance

New requirements and guidance will be put in place to provide clear, transparent and easily accessible information to consumers on:

  • How much is returned to the good causes and what good causes they’re supporting
  • How much is spent on prizes
  • How much is spent on expenses
  • The process around the awarding of grants
  • The way in which winners are determined and prizes allocated
  • The potential prizes available, and;
  • The likelihood of winning a prize

Further details on the new requirements are available in the guidance for all lottery licensees (PDF), including local authority lotteries licence holders.

Bingo via remote communications

We have seen operators looking for options that will allow them to continue to offer bingo games to consumers while their bingo premises are closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. These normally include some form of remote communication, for example, broadcasting games over the internet via social media, meeting apps, other websites or via a telephone link for customers to play along at home.

LAs are reminded that if operators wish to do this, they must have a full remote bingo operating licence from the Commission. Many premises-based bingo operators only hold a non-remote and an ancillary remote operating licence. However these do not permit them to provide games outside of their premises. This is because one of the conditions placed on bingo ancillary licences is for the bingo facilities to be provided only to people on the licensed premises, as set out in 16(3)(b)(ii) of the Gambling (Operating Licence and Single-Machine Permit Fees) Regulations 2017 (opens in new tab).

Bingo can also be offered by alcohol licensed premises (such as pubs) and certain clubs under the rules for exempt gaming, and as non-commercial equal chance or prize gaming by people wishing to fundraise. However, the rules for these types of bingo games mean that they cannot be run via the internet, telephone or any other means of remote communication.

Premises annual fee refunds and partial payments

Following a number of queries in relation to refunds of premises licence annual fees, we have signposted LAs to the information provided in last summer’s bulletin.

The Commission’s view is that no regulations providing for refunds have been made under section 184(4) of the Gambling Act (opens in new tab), and so LAs do not have the discretion to refund annual fees for premises licences where the operator ceases to trade during the year.

Our view is that the power to authorise refunds is specifically reserved for the Secretary of State by virtue of section 184(4). Similarly, there is no scope within The Gambling (Premises Licence Fees) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 (opens in new tab) or The Gambling (Premises Licence Fees) (Scotland) Regulations 2007 (opens in new tab) for pro-rata payment of annual fees where the premises intends to close within a few months of the fee being paid.

The Commission’s view is that a local authority doing either of these would be acting ultra vires; however, this is not legal advice and only the courts can make a final decision.

LA Bulletin - LLEP Assessment templates

To help you meet LA regulatory obligations under the Gambling Act 2005 (opens in new tab) we worked with Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Licensing Forum and LLEP to produce a range of resources (opens in new tab) including a suite of assessment templates, information for premises and assessment outcome letters. Please share the findings of your visits to the Commission via so that we can continue to build a broad picture of premises’ compliance.

LA Bulletin June 2020 - E-Learning modules

The Institute of Licensing (opens in new tab) and the Commission have worked together to produce some gambling e-learning modules:

  • Gaming machines - three separate modules which cover the various types of gaming machines, the physical components and signage requirements and how to deal with non-compliant machines
  • Inspection powers and inspection preparation – designed to help co-regulators familiarise themselves with their powers to enter and inspect gambling premises and the preparation to undertake before conducting an inspection of any gambling premises.
  • Introduction to inspecting a betting premises – aimed at helping co-regulators improve their understanding of what to check when conducting an inspection of a betting premises - both inside and outside the premises.

These modules can be accessed by anybody via the IOL website (opens in new tab),and all are CPD accredited. Once on the website simply click on the ‘e-learning’ tab on the top right, then log in if you have an existing account, or request a log in via to get started.

We also have several refresher modules for licensing officers which compliance managers can deliver at licensing meetings. Topics include machines, permits, money laundering, poker. If you are interested in receiving such training, please contact your compliance manager.

LA Bulletin - Quick guides and template letters

Some quick guides are designed to give to operators when undertaking visits, others provide an accessible ‘how to’ for licensing staff:

LA Bulletin - Gambling Act statutory notices and forms

It is a statutory requirement that applicants use the correct forms to give proper notice of applications, variations etc to all responsible authorities, including the Gambling Commission.

We host all the statutory notices and application forms as they are no longer available on the DCMS (opens in new tab) website.

LA Bulletin - Find operating licence holders and premises licence register

In our public register, we publish the names of all companies and individuals who hold, or have applied for, operating licences in Great Britain along with the names of companies or individuals whose licences have lapsed, been revoked, forfeited, expired, suspended or surrendered in the last 6 months.

LAs must check the operator licence quoted on premises applications with the register before granting a premises licence. An application for premises licence may only be made by persons who have an operating licence which allows them to carry out the proposed activity for example a bingo operating licence for a bingo premises or have applied for an operating licence (although the premises licence cannot be determined until an operating licence has been issued).

Premises licence register

The information on our publicly available premises register is based on the statutory notifications received from LAs regarding grants, variations, revocations, lapses etc, and is updated monthly. LAs are encouraged to send all necessary correspondence to Where email notification has been made it is not necessary to follow up by post.

In relation to gaming machines, we only require notification of grant and or rejection of Club Machines Permits and Gaming Machine Permits. There is no requirement to advise us when an alcohol licence holder submits their notification for an automatic entitlement to two gaming machines. However, LAs must keep a record of how many automatic entitlement notifications it receives each year, as that information is requested in the annual LA returns.

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