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Licensing Authority Bulletin March 2021

News, advice and guidance updates

Machines alert

The following machines were found by local Environment Health Officers during a visit to premises.

The Commission understands these machines to be of Portuguese origin and has concerns as to both their supply and siting. They are approx. 8 inches to 1 foot high and can be affixed to a wall or on a flat surface. They can be played by inserting a coin, usually a £1 coin, and winnings can be claimed at the counter of the premises where installed. We would be grateful if you could alert your colleagues – such as EHOs and local police regarding this matter and inform us via complianceteamCB@gamblingcommission.gov.uk with any information or should you require assistance.

LA Returns

You have until 31 March to submit your returns for the period April 2019 – March 2020. The Commission plans to publish the data received (in an Excel format) in late April. LAs are requested to check such things as their spam folders as, where we have discovered anomalies in the data supplied and attempted to contact you, the mail address we hold no longer appears to be valid. Should you have any queries please email LAReturns@gamblingcommission.gov.uk

Large and small society lottery licences

The Commission has received several queries recently on the topic. We thought it useful to remind you that a society cannot hold both large and small society lottery licences. Branches with separate objectives (and separate funding) can apply for a separate registration or licence. There is specific advice on this in section 34 of the GLA.

34.34 In cases where a society has separate branches with different aims and objectives, it is acceptable for them to hold more than one licence or registration. However, in cases where a society holds more than one registration and the aims and objectives of those societies are the same, this may constitute a breach of the threshold limits for small society lotteries set out in Schedule 11 of the Act.

34.35 Licensing authorities are advised to carefully consider any application by a society for more than one registration. If the aims and objectives are the same and therefore the threshold limits for small society lotteries are likely to be exceeded, the applicant should be advised to apply to the Commission for a society lottery operating licence.

34.36 By virtue of Schedule 11 paragraph 31(5), societies may not hold an operating licence and a local authority registration with the same aims and objectives at the same time. This paragraph also provides for a statutory period of three years during which a large society cannot convert to small society status. Licensing authorities should check that applicants for registration do not hold (and have not held in the preceding three years) a society lottery operating licence granted by the Commission.

Furthermore a society established just to run raffles on the charity’s behalf also isn’t likely to be compliant with s19 of the Gambling Act unless it’s constitution states that the society’s purpose is non-commercial, for charitable, sport, culture or any other non-commercial purpose other than that of private gain.

Non-commercial prize gaming and Non-commercial equal chance gaming – can they be offered by remote means?

Following our article about small society lotteries and remote play in the last edition of the Bulletin we have received a number of enquiries about non commercial prize and equal chance gaming. Our understanding of the situation is set out below and in the Advice on non-commercial and private gaming and betting note.

Non-commercial prize gaming
Section 299 of the Act defines prize gaming as if neither the nature nor size of a prize is determined by the number of people playing or the amount paid for or raised by the gaming. The prizes will be determined by the operator before play commences. This is distinct from normal commercial gaming where the stakes and participation fees paid by the players go to make up the available winnings.

Section 299(5) states; The fourth condition is that the gaming is not remote.

In other words, the authorisation can only apply to gaming which takes place at events, on premises, and for gaming in person.

Non-commercial equal chance gaming
Equal chance gaming is gaming where the chances are equally favourable to all participants and players are not competing against a bank (section 8 of the Act)

The conditions are further set out in section 300(7) of the Act; The fifth condition is that the gaming is non-remote.

Participants required for our User Research Programme We carry out regular research sessions to find out how people use existing digital services and the website provided by the Gambling Commission, and what they need from these. This helps us to create services and a website that work better for all our users.

Finding out what works and what needs to be improved is incredibly important to us, so we require people to try out new digital offerings and provide us with feedback.

As such, we are now seeking participants to register for our User Research Programme. Once registered, we will use your details to contact you about specific user research sessions that we feel you may want to be involved in.

Getting involved in our ongoing User Research Programme may include:

  • Responding to questionnaires (approx. 5 - 10 minutes)
  • Telephone session (approx. 45 minutes)
  • Face-to-face session (approx. 45 - 60 minutes)
  • Commission workshop (approx. half a day)

Join the programme

You can register to join the user research programme online. We’ll ask you 9 short questions that should take about 2 minutes to complete.

Compliance support

We have revised the communication process for LAs requesting help and support for gambling related issues.

The previous practice of contacting your designated Compliance Managers directly has ceased. As from 1 October 2020, all gambling related requests for help and support must be emailed to the Gambling Commission Compliance Mailbox: complianceteamCB@gamblingcommission.gov.uk.

Your requests will be forwarded to designated compliance staff who will respond and deal with your enquiry in a timely manner.

Occasional Use Notices

Whilst current lockdown restrictions are in place this is unlikely to be a problem, however we thought it worthwhile reminding you that the misuse of OUNs can be an issue.

As preparations gear up for some of the big racing events, LAs are reminded that Occasional Use Notices (OUN) are designed to allow licensed betting operators to provide betting facilities at genuine sporting events, such as point-to point racecourses and golf courses for major competitions, within the boundaries of the identified venue on a specific date.

We are aware of a small number of instances whereby OUNs have been misused. Local sporting clubs, or other venues seeking to become tracks through a contrived sporting event, have utilised OUNs to solely or primarily facilitate betting taking place on events occurring away from the identified venue.

For example, a local hotel or club could seek to host a themed event coinciding with the Cheltenham Festival and the Aintree Grand National meeting claiming that a darts competition will be taking place at the venue thus permitting that a bookmaker could attend and accept bets on the darts event when in reality they will primarily be there to take bets on the horse-racing taking place elsewhere.

Please ensure that you contact complianceteamCB@gamblingcommission.gov.uk for advice if you should receive an OUN that does not relate to a genuine recognised sporting event.

LAs are also reminded that an OUN must be submitted for EACH day that the betting activity will be conducted on the premises. For example four notices for four consecutive days of betting and not one notice covering the four days.

More information about OUNs is available on our website.

LA Bulletin March 2021 - Consultations

Review of the Gambling Act

You will probably be aware of the current review being undertaken by DCMS. This is the first stage of the process and a chance for you to make your views heard. Further details are at Review of the Gambling Act 2005 Terms of Reference and Call for Evidence (opens in new tab)

LA Bulletin March 2021 - Feature article

The MAGPIE Programme - Money and Gambling: Practice, Insight, Evidence

In this feature article, Professor Sharon Collard gives an overview of the MAGPIE programme which is a three-year collaboration between GambleAware and the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre to examine the role of the financial services industry in helping reduce gambling harms.

There is a strong rationale for the financial services industry to help create an environment that prevents or reduces gambling harms, given its significant reach into the population and the unique window that financial services firms have into their customers’ financial situation.

For this reason, in September 2019 GambleAware and the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre (PFRC) launched the MAGPIE programme – short for Money and Gambling: Practice, Insight, Evidence. MAGPIE is a three-year programme to explore how the financial services industry - including banks, building societies, lenders, e-money firms, credit reference agencies, regulators and trade bodies - can help reduce gambling harms in the UK. Over the course of the three years, the University of Bristol team aims to complete six projects that will provide a comprehensive set of evidence-informed resources and bring together a ‘coalition of the willing’ that is interested and committed to gambling harm reduction. The work will also help build an evidence base in an area where currently there is a dearth of academic research.

This article describes the first two projects in the MAGPIE programme: a review of bank card gambling blockers that was published in July 2020; and a practical guide for financial services firms which is underway and due to be published in Spring 2021.

MAGPIE project 1: A blueprint for bank card gambling blockers

The first project in the MAGPIE programme was a review of bank card gambling blockers that assessed their potential to help people control their gambling and set out an evidence-informed blueprint to maximise their effectiveness. These blockers involve a bank checking – in real-time – a Merchant Category Code describing the type of business a customer is trying to pay with their debit or credit card. If the Merchant Category Code indicates the business is related to gambling, and the customer has activated their bank card blocker, then the payment should be declined. The review collected evidence from several different sources: bank data on customer use of blockers; discussions with treatment providers, firms and regulatory bodies; and insights from over 100 interviews and surveys with people who had lived experience of gambling.

Blocker technology works – and should be available to all card users

The evidence showed that bank card gambling blockers can help people control their gambling spend but they need to be much more widely available. While eight UK financial firms offer gambling blocks as standard to customers with a credit or debit card, as many as 28 million personal current accounts and 35 million credit cards may not have this option. The review therefore recommended that blockers should be a standard feature available to all card holders across a firm’s full card range. It also highlighted that more needs to be done to make sure people know about bank card gambling blocks. In an online survey conducted by the University of Bristol team, nearly half of participants (43%) – many of whom were receiving treatment and support for their gambling – were not aware that bank gambling blocks existed.

Blockers should be a lock not a light switch

The review found that the design of bank card blockers is also critical to their effectiveness. Some blockers can be toggled on and off by customers at will – making them a light switch rather than a lock. The review concluded that a time-released lock of at least 48 hours should be a standard feature on all blockers. Since the review was published in July 2020, some banks have modified their bank card gambling blocks to increase the cooling off period between a customer turning off the block and being able to gamble. To complement gambling blockers on cards, the review proposed that banks give customers the option to limit their ATM withdrawals. A ‘third line of defence’ could be the option to block cash transfers from a credit card to an account where the money could be used to gamble.

MAGPIE project 2: Understanding gambling harm - a practical guide for financial services

A common theme in the first year of the MAGPIE programme was a desire among people with lived experience of gambling harm for financial services firms and other professionals to develop a better understanding of gambling disorder and gambling harm. The second MAGPIE project therefore aims to produce a practical guide for financial services on understanding gambling disorder and gambling harm, with a focus on lenders, debt collection staff and debt advisers. Informed by the Financial Conduct Authority’s proposed guidance on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers (opens in new tab), the project is using qualitative research with financial services staff and people affected by gambling to:

  • Develop personas that bring to life the different ways in which gambling can impact people's lives and what that means in terms of their personal finances and wellbeing more generally.
  • Explore the skills, capabilities, tools and resources that can help financial services staff to support people affected by gambling.
  • Consider practical actions to support people affected by gambling, e.g. related to product design, customer service and communications.

The practical guide is due to be published in Spring 2020.

You can find out more about the MAGPIE Programme here: https://magpie.blogs.bristol.ac.uk/ or email Professor Sharon Collard: sharon.collard@bristol.ac.uk

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 complianceteamCB@gamblingcommission.gov.uk so that we can continue to build a broad picture of premises’ compliance.

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

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 info@gamblingcommission.gov.uk. 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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