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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


4 - Primary legislation

1.13. The primary legislation governing gambling in Great Britain is the Gambling Act 2005 (opens in new tab). It covers England, Wales and Scotland, but not Northern Ireland, which has its own arrangements.

1.14. The overall approach of the Act is to state that gambling is unlawful in Great Britain, unless permitted by:

1.15. The Act establishes two comprehensive offences: providing facilities for gambling or using premises for gambling without the appropriate permission. Such permission may come from a licence, permit, or registration granted in accordance with the Act or from an exemption given by the Act. Where authority to provide facilities for gambling is granted, it is subject to varying degrees of regulation, depending on the type of gambling, the means by which it is conducted, and the people by whom and to whom it is offered.

1.16. The Act is designed, as far as possible, to be flexible and future-proof. In practice, this means that in many areas the Act sets a framework, with more detailed rules set out in regulations made under the Act.

1.17. In addition, the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 (opens in new tab) came into force on 1 November 2014 and amends the Act. It requires remote gambling operators selling into the British market, whether based here or abroad, to hold a Commission licence to enable them to transact with British consumers. The Act (as amended) has implications for remote operators and does not impact the powers or authority of licensing authorities.

1.18. The Gambling Act 2005 permits the advertising of gambling in all forms, provided that it is legal and there are adequate protections in place to prevent such advertisements undermining the licensing objectives. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising. It enforces the UK Advertising Codes (the Codes), written by the Committees of Advertising Practice. The Codes cover the content and placement of advertising and are designed to ensure that advertisements for gambling products are socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect children, young persons under 18 and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited. The Codes also require that advertisements for gambling products or services do not mislead. Any complaint about the content and placement of advertising or marketing communications should be sent directly to the ASA.

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Statutory aim to permit gambling
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