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84% of pubs failing to prevent under 18-year-olds from playing gaming machines

A review of pubs in England and Wales has shown that 84% of them are failing to prevent under 18-year-olds from playing Category C gaming machines, also known as fruit machines

Local authorities have primary responsibility for regulating these machines and businesses are responsible for ensuring that they are compliant in checking age verification.  Over the last 12 months the Gambling Commission has worked with local authorities and local police to test compliance with laws in place to protect children from the risks gambling can pose.

Children are not permitted to play Category C gaming machines in pubs. Staff are expected to stop children playing on the machines and there should be clear signage indicating the age restriction.

This follows a test sample taken in 2018 which found that 88% of pubs in England failed to prevent children accessing 18+ gaming machines.

The findings suggest that the rules in place around these machines are still not being appropriately enforced and many employees are still unaware of the restrictions.

Programme Director, Helen Rhodes said: “The pub industry must accelerate action to enforce these rules. Pubs must take age verification on machines as seriously as they do for alcohol sales, and they risk losing their entitlement to offer machines if they do not.

Adding: ‘’The results last year were extremely disappointing and we have supported local authorities in their action to raise standards. This includes working with the providers of training to the pub industry to emphasise the legal requirements in training materials, as well as with the Home Office to work towards including materials on gambling in pubs in the curriculum for the personal licence holder course. The British Beer and Pub Association and UK Hospitality have responded to our call by issuing guidance to their members on the importance of  enforcing the legal requirements. We urge the pub sector to respond to this opportunity to protect children and young people and to prevent the need for local authorities to take enforcement action.’’

The current pass rate for alcohol sales in pubs is between 70 – 85%.

2019 Young people and gambling survey

 We have published a survey, carried out by Ipsos MORI, which looks at gambling trends of 11 - 16-year-olds in Great Britain.   Some of the findings include

  • 11% of 11-16 year olds say they spent their own money on gambling activities in the seven days prior to taking part in the survey. This is down from 14% in 2018.

5% of 11-16 year olds say they have placed a private bet for money (e.g. with friends) in the past seven days, with a further 3% playing cards for money with friends in the past seven days.

4% of 11-16 year olds report playing on fruit or slot machines in the past seven days.

3% of 11- 16 year olds say they have played National Lottery scratchcards and 2% say they have played the Lotto (the main National Lottery) draw in the past seven days

Commission drop in session at the IOL conference

Bring your questions and queries along to a gambling drop in centre on Thursday 21 November at the IOL’s National Training Conference.  The Commission will also share the platform with Philip Kolvin QC, for a session on the reduction of B2 stakes and what that means for LAs.

Update on the National Strategy

We have been progressing the delivery of the National Strategy to reduce gambling harm, in particular some of the projects in the research programme including

  • Developing the framework to measure and monitor gambling related harm
  • Developing a longitudinal study
  • Understanding the link between gambling and suicide.

If you are interested in signing up to the get updates on the National Strategy please email communications@gamblingcommission.gov.uk

Children’s Commissioner for England calls for changes to gambling laws

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England has published  a report “Gaming the system which looks at the experiences of children who play games online.

Whilst children enjoy playing online and how gaming can help them to build strategic, teamwork and creative skills, the research highlighted how many children are spending money on ‘in-game’ purchases because they feel they have to in order to keep up with friends or to advance in the game.  Some of these purchases, known as ‘loot boxes’, contain a random selection of rewards and so gamers do not even know what they are purchasing.  The Commissioner’s recommendations include loot boxes being regulated as a form of gambling.

Glasgow Gambling Summit Planned

The City of Glasgow Council is planning to host a Gambling Summit early in the new year which will bring together a range of partners including academics, third sector, health professionals, youth workers and those with lived experience of the harm caused by gambling problems and addictions, to examine the current challenges and develop a framework for action. The summit will seek to discuss the development of a whole systems approach to both prevention and treatment of individuals.  This means identifying where there are linkages and interdependencies in relation to how gambling impacts a person and their family and social network and look at developing a coordinated response, with partners.

The plan follows a cross party development day where attendees heard from Dr Michelle Gillies, public consultant for the Scottish Public Health Network, who presented her work on reducing gambling harms and set out the case for a whole systems approach and Laura MacDonald from the University of Glasgow who also highlighted evidence of the clustering so-called 'environmental bads' such as alcohol, fast food, tobacco gambling outlets, particularly in areas of deprivation.

Money Talk Team

In August, the Scottish Government launched a new advertising campaign publicising the Money Talk Team, a free financial advice service aimed at helping low income households. ,Money Talk Team is the new name for Financial Health Check, which started in 2018 and is delivered by Citizens Advice Scotland.  It can be accessed through their free helpline on 0800 085 7145 or by visiting a local Citizens Advice Bureau. The service offers one-stop, personalised advice on dealing with debt and ways to reduce household bills.  In the last nine months, the Money Talk Team has helped a total of 3,198 people be better off by more than £6 million - meaning households benefit by more than £1,850 on average. A total of nearly 8,000 people have accessed the service.


Next: Consultations and calls for evidence