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New conditions for operators failing second underage test

12 February 2015

A number of independent gambling operators have had new conditions attached to their premises licences to strengthen underage gambling controls.

Further to the programme of test purchasing conducted in 2014 by local authorities in partnership with the Gambling Commission, East Lindsey District Council, Brighton and Hove City Council and Hastings Borough Council reviewed premises licences where operators failed to challenge an underage test purchaser for a second time.

Two adult gaming centre operators, a family entertainment centre and a betting shop were subject to premises licence reviews. These operators had submitted improvement plans to their authorities after failing a first test purchase exercise, but the latest re-tests demonstrated that weaknesses in controls had not been remedied.

Examples of the conditions now attached to premises licences include:

  • a requirement for the licensee to have a Think 21 or Think 25 policy
  • a requirement for regular test purchasing to be undertaken, to ensure the licensee monitors the effectiveness of their controls
  • the use of magnetic locks to restrict access to premises
  • the use of an infra-red beam system to alert staff to the presence of customers in age-restricted areas
  • barriers to reduce the risk of children crossing from family entertainment centre premises into adult gaming centre premises
  • re-positioning category D gaming machines away from entrances to adult gaming centre premises, to reduce the attraction of children to those areas
  • induction and refresher training for staff.

Operators cooperated with the local authorities during the review processes, and some offered up further measures to strengthen their controls in addition to the formal licence conditions, such as:

  • improving staff supervision of customers by moving age-restricted gaming machines to areas in front of manned areas or a staff counter
  • assigning a member of staff to have specific duties for supervising the age-restricted area.

Matthew Hill, Director at the Commission, said:

“We welcome the action taken by our local authority partners to ensure that operators are able to manage the underage gambling risks at their premises, and also the cooperation of the licensees in the review processes.

“The recent Ipsos Mori research tells us that, while overall figures for underage gambling have remained broadly static, the prevalence of children playing gambling machines is a lot higher than for other forms of gambling participation, and has risen on previous years.

“Machines are a form of gambling that can usually be accessed without any staff interaction, and it is vitally important that operators have the controls in place to prevent children from playing age-restricted products such as these.

“We must remind operators not to be complacent in this key area – where weaknesses persist, other sanctions such as the suspension or revocation of a licence could be considered by regulators.”

Note to editors

  1. The Gambling Commission (the Commission) regulates gambling in the public interest alongside its co-regulators local licensing authorities. It does so by keeping crime out of gambling, by ensuring that gambling is conducted fairly and openly, and by protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling. Subject to these overriding public protection objectives, as regulator of the National Lottery the Commission monitors and challenges Camelot to raise the maximum amount for good causes. The Commission also provides independent advice to government on gambling in Britain.
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For all media enquiries, please contact the Gambling Commission press office.

Last updated: 10 December 2020

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