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Guidance to licensing authorities

Our guidance for licensing authorities.


8 - Licensing authority discretion (s.153 of the Act)

1.25 Licensing authorities have discretion to regulate local provision of gambling and the Act gives wide-ranging powers to do so. Those include the power:

  • to issue a statement of licensing policy, setting expectations about how gambling will be regulated in a particular area
  • to grant, refuse and attach conditions to premises licences
  • to review premises licences and attach conditions or revoke them as a result.

1.26 In exercising its functions under the Act, s.153 states that the licensing authority shall aim to permit the use of premises for gambling in so far as it thinks it:

  • a. in accordance with any relevant code of practice under s.24
  • b. in accordance with any relevant guidance issued by the Commission under s.25
  • c. reasonably consistent with the licensing objectives (subject to a and b above)
  • d. in accordance with the licensing authority’s statement of licensing policy (policy statement) (subject to a to c above).

1.27 The ‘aim to permit’ framework provides wide scope for licensing authorities to impose conditions on a premises licence, reject, review or revoke premises licences where there is an inherent conflict with the relevant codes of practice, relevant guidance issued by the Commission, the licensing objectives or the licensing authorities own policy statement.

1.28 Licence conditions are one method by which it is possible to mitigate risks associated with a particular premises. The imposition of licence conditions might be prompted by locality specific concerns, for example the proximity of gambling premises to a school.

1.29 However, licensing authorities may also wish to have proactive engagement with local operators to mitigate risks to the licensing objectives. Such engagement can facilitate an open and constructive partnership which, in turn, can improve compliance and reduce regulatory costs. Engagement with operators should be prompted by justifiable concerns or in pursuit of the principles set out under s.153.

1.30 To reflect the breadth of licensing authority discretion, they are entitled to request such information from operators as they may require to make effective licensing decisions. The Act requires that an application must be accompanied by a minimum level of information (detailed in Part 7 of this guidance). In the Commission’s view, however, this does not preclude reasonable requests from licensing authorities for additional information to satisfy themselves that their licensing decision is reasonably consistent with the licensing objectives and the Commission’s codes. That information may include, for example, a suitable business plan or the operator’s own assessment of risk to the licensing objectives locally.

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Codes of practice
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Local risk assessments
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