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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


5 - Illegal gambling

36.22. The Commission views the prevention of illegal gambling as an enforcement priority. Combating illegal gambling is of significant benefit to the licensed community as the provision of illegal unregulated gambling impacts upon the reputation of the industry as a whole. The persistent and widespread existence of illegal gambling also reduces the incentive on operators to be correctly licensed. Those engaged in illegal gambling should expect to be subject to the criminal investigation and prosecution process.

36.23. The Commission will generally take the lead in prosecuting the offence of providing facilities for gambling where it is committed in the context of illegal gambling which appears organised and has a potentially national or regional impact, or where there are deliberate, reckless or significant breaches by a licensed operator.

36.24. In England and Wales, the expectation is that licensing authorities will take prosecutions against those providing or facilitating illegal gambling – in effect gambling without a licence or permit – where the criminality is contained in one premises. In Scotland, the expectation is that licensing authorities will work with the police to address this criminality.

36.25. Dealing with illegal poker, or illegal or illegally sited machines in a specific premises often lends itself to a multi-agency coordinated approach with licensing authority officers leading the operation and the police and sometimes HMRC (opens in new tab) providing support, advice and expertise. Licensing officers should contact the Commission in the first instance to agree if such a multi-agency approach would be appropriate.

36.26. As stated in paragraph 36.1, the annual premises licence fee is set to cover the costs of compliance and enforcement work undertaken by licensing authorities, including the cost of dealing with illegal gambling in a licensing authority’s area.

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