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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


6 - Application for premises variation (s.187): ‘material change’

7.51. Previous guidance from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (opens in new tab) and the Commission has been that an application for a variation will only be required where there are material changes to the layout of the premises. What constitutes a material change will be a matter for local determination, but it is expected that a common sense approach will be adopted. When considering an application for variations, the licensing authority will have regard to the principles to be applied as set out in s.153 of the Act.


7.52. In dealing with an application, licensing authorities are obliged to consider representations from two categories of person, referred to in the Act as ‘responsible authorities’ and ‘interested parties’. Representations from other parties are inadmissible. Further information on these categories can be found in Part 8 of this guidance.

7.53. Having determined that the representation is admissible, the licensing authority must consider its relevance. Only representations that relate to the licensing objectives, or that raise issues under the licensing authority’s policy statement, or the Commission’s guidance or codes of practice, are likely to be relevant.

7.54. The licensing authority will also need to consider if representations are ‘frivolous’ or ‘vexatious’. This is a question of fact and licensing authorities are advised to seek help from their legal advisers in interpreting these phrases although relevant considerations may include:

  • who is making the representation, and whether there is a history of making representations that are not relevant
  • whether it raises a ‘relevant’ issue
  • whether it raises issues specifically to do with the premises that are the subject of the application.

7.55. The Commission does not routinely make representations on premises licence applications. However, the fact that the Commission has not made a representation on a particular premises licence application should not be taken as indicating the Commission’s approval of that application. Exceptionally, where an application for a premises licence, or the operation of a current premises licence, raises matters of wider or national significance, the Commission will consider making representations or requesting a review.

Making a decision

7.56. As explained earlier, the licensing authority’s primary obligation under s.153(1) is to permit the use of premises in so far as it thinks that to do so is:

  • a. in accordance with any relevant code of practice issued by the Commission
  • b. in accordance with any relevant guidance issued by the Commission
  • 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).

7.57. Further information and guidance as to the meaning and effect of s.153 is set out at paragraph 5.19 above.

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