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Test purchasing (England and Wales only) and age verification toolkit

Larger operators are required to conduct independent test purchase exercise to ensure their age verification systems work effectively.

Published: 26 April 2021

Last updated: 6 October 2023

This version was printed or saved on: 29 February 2024

Online version: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/authorities/guide/test-purchasing-and-age-verification-toolkit

Overview: ## Action to take when operators fail test purchase exercises When operators in your area fail you can impose some or all of these premises conditions on them:

Contact complianceteamCB@gamblingcommission.gov.uk if you are interested in taking part in our test purchase programme.

GLA: Part 36, Compliance and enforcement matters, section 28

Examples of approaches to test purchasing

Focusing resources and using a third party

East Lindsey has developed an approach to test purchasing which uses the results of test purchasing exercises undertaken by the larger betting operators through the use of a third party.

This allows the council to make best use of their resources by focussing on premises which are not being tested.

Premises in East Lindsey which repeatedly failed test purchase exercises had conditions imposed on their premises licences, including:

Improving age-verification with Citizencard

Wigan Council works with Citizencard (opens in new tab) in order to promote recognition and acceptance of this alternative method of identification and age verification. The council's logo is incorporated onto the standard application forms and appears on the Citizencard to add further authenticity.

Citizencard application forms are readily available in public buildings and in premises which sell age-restricted products or provide an age-related service.

The application forms have also been delivered to bookmakers and gambling establishments to provide staff with the tools to help them advise and assist their customers, remove confrontation, maintain a safe working environment and protect their livelihoods.

Strict liability of children gambling

Blackpool Council v Stan James (Abingdon) Limited on 1 March 2016

Licensing authorities may be interested in a Local Government Lawyer article written by Philip Kolvin QC, about a case where a district judge considered issues around the criminal liability of a betting operator where a child played a fixed odds betting terminal without challenge. The prosecution had to prove that the operator knew or should have known that the player was underage.

District Judge Brailsford concluded in Blackpool Council v Stan James (Abingdon) Limited on 1 March 2016:

“I have considered the issues very carefully. I have sought to analyse and consider what definition should be given to the word “permit” in circumstances such as these. I am of the clear view that “permit”, here, means “fail to prevent”, not importing any other concepts of “knowingly”, “intentionally”, “recklessly” or the like. Finding the matter to be a strict liability offence does not deprive the Defendant of the opportunity to deny, and to present its case; strict liability is not, without more, guilt. But, on the evidence, arguments and submissions – for which, once again, I express my gratitude to those concerned – I am wholly satisfied that this offence is indeed one of strict liability. Whether the Prosecution can make its case, of course, is an entirely separate issue.”