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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


8 - Prosecutions

36.39. The Act gives licensing authorities in England and Wales, the police and the Commission the power to prosecute the offence of using premises for gambling without the requisite permissions. In exceptional circumstances, such as repeated deliberate breaches of premises licence conditions, licensed operators or permit holders may be prosecuted without any prior regulatory action, such as warnings, suspension or revocation of licence or removal of permit. Most prosecutions will be against those illegally providing gambling without a licence or permit.

36.40. In Scotland, licensing authorities are not able to institute criminal proceedings themselves, but are to refer cases where there has been a breach of the Act to the police for further consideration by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (opens in new tab).

36.41. Normally the Commission or the licensing authority would decide when to involve the police, rather than the police initiating any action. The Commission considers that examples of scenarios where the police should be involved include:

  • when non-gambling offences are discovered, for example large-scale theft or other serious crime which extends beyond the reach of licence conditions
  • assistance with Commission investigations, for example enquiries into other criminal activity.

36.42. There is a distinction between those who conduct gambling operations under a licence or permit but breach the conditions of that, and those who seek to profit from providing facilities for gambling without a licence or permit. While both situations result in unlawful gambling, the latter situation is generally considered by the Commission to be more serious.

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