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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


1 - Introduction

6.1. S.349 of the Act requires all licensing authorities to prepare and publish a statement of licensing principles that they propose to apply in exercising their functions under the Act, commonly known as a policy statement8. The policy statement forms the licensing authority’s mandate for managing local gambling provision and sets out how the licensing authority views the local risk environment and therefore its expectations in relation to operators with premises in the locality.

6.2. The policy statement acts as the primary vehicle for setting out the licensing authority’s approach to regulation having taken into account local circumstances. For example, a licensing authority might identify the safeguarding of children as a key priority, in which case its statement would set out those policies, procedures and control measures it would expect licensees to follow to mitigate any risks relating to underage gambling.

6.3. Policy statements are likely to reflect differences in approach between different licensing authorities. The statement made by a seaside town licensing authority, which may see gambling businesses as an important part of its plans for growth and regeneration based on regular influx of visitors, may well be significantly different from that of an inner city authority, which may be more concerned with impact on the vulnerable. In this respect, licensing authorities may find it helpful to make an assessment of the pattern of gambling and associated risks to the licensing objectives in their own areas.

6.4. The Commission encourages licensing authorities to have a policy statement that is genuinely reflective of local issues, local data, local risk and the expectations that a licensing authority has of operators who either currently offer gambling facilities or wish to do so in the future. The existence of a clear and robust policy statement provides greater scope for licensing authorities to work in partnership with operators, other local businesses, communities, and responsible authorities to identify and to proactively mitigate local risks to the licensing objectives. Whilst not being a responsible authority, many licensing authorities have found it beneficial to obtain advice from public health teams in informing the Statement.

6.5. The policy statement can be reviewed and revised by the licensing authority at any time but must be produced following consultation with those bodies and persons set out in s.349(3) of the Act. Regulations made by the Secretary of State, or Scottish Ministers in Scotland, prescribe the form of statements, and the procedure to be followed in relation to them and their publication, as detailed in paragraph 6.11 onwards.

6.6. Licensing authorities should ensure that the policy statement balances the need for a degree of certainty on the part of gambling businesses with the need to remain responsive to emerging risks. It should be evidence led, based on the principles outlined below and reviewed at least every three years.

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Fundamental principles
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