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Gambling Act 2005 - Statement of Licensing Principals January 2022

Part A - Introduction and scope

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is the Licensing Authority under the Gambling Act 2005 and is responsible for granting premises licences in the Borough of Stockton-On-Tees in respect of such premises as:-

  • Casino premises;
  • Bingo premises;
  • Betting premises, including tracks;
  • Adult Gaming Centres;
  • Family Entertainment Centres.

There are 4 principles to inform a Licensing Authority as to how it carries out its duties:

Licensing Authorities are required by the Gambling Act 2005 to publish a statement of the principles, which they propose to apply when exercising their functions. This statement must be published at least every three years. The statement must also be reviewed from "time to time" and any amended parts re-consulted upon. The statement must be then re-published. The formal Statement of Licensing Principles will come into effect on the 31 January 2022

Declaration

In producing this statement, this Licensing Authority declares that it has had regard to the licensing objectives of the Gambling Act 2005, the guidance issued by the Commission, and any responses from those consulted on the statement. To help identify where changes have been made or additional information included since the last policy review, these changes / additions have been typed in red.  When the policy is finalised, these will appear in black type in line with the format of the document.

The Borough of Stockton-on-Tees

200,000 people call the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees home. A mixture of busy town centres, urban residential areas and picturesque villages, the population is increasing with a 2.8% rise over the last seven years. The main urban areas are Stockton, Thornaby, Ingleby Barwick, Billingham and Yarm. These are shown on the map at Appendix 1.

5,000 businesses generate £4 billion for the local economy, a third of the Tees Valley economy overall. Inequality is a challenge in the Borough, with affluent areas alongside areas of deprivation. Nine of the 26 wards in the Borough are in the 10% most deprived wards in the country and there is a gap of 21 years in average life expectancy amongst men between the most and least deprived wards. We are committed to fighting this discrepancy and making sure more people enjoy a healthy happy life in the Borough.

The Council's vision, which is published in the Council Plan 2021 - 2024 is summarised in a vision for the Borough:

  • A place where people are healthy, safe and protected from harm;
  • A place that is clean, vibrant and attractive, and
  • A place with a thriving economy where everyone has opportunities to succeed

Other data

Gambling participation survey 2021 findings

The Gambling Commission carry out annual telephone surveys and hold national data on gambling participation at:

Gambling behaviour in 2021: Findings from the quarterly telephone survey

The Key Points:

  • Overall participation in any gambling activity in the last four weeks has fallen to 40% (a 7 percentage point decline compared to the previous year);
  • Online gambling participation is up to 24% (an increase of 3 percentage points), whilst in person participation is down 12 percentage points to 23%;
  • National Lottery draws, other lotteries and casino games have seen increases in online participation and decreases in in-person participation;
  • The overall problem gambling rate is 0.4%, compared to 0.6% the previous year, although this decrease is not statistically significant on the previous year's figures and
  • The moderate risk rate has shown a significant decrease from 1.5% to 0.6%, as has the low risk rate from 2.7% to 1.9%.

Problem gambling

Commission data claims the majority of people who gamble do so without experiencing harm, but people who do get into difficulty as a result of gambling and can experience very significant harms, including mental health and relationship problems, debts that cannot be repaid, crime and suicide in extreme cases. Statistics show problem gambling rates have been broadly stable since 2012. To understand how gambling related harm can be reduced the Gambling Commission have produced a National Strategy to reduce gambling harms which provides an agreed framework for action:

National Strategic Assessment 2020

There are a number of specialised services that offer advice, assistance and counselling for problem gamblers more information can be found at Appendix 2

Licensing objectives

The Gambling Act 2005 requires that the Council carries out its various licensing functions by having regard to promoting the following three licensing objectives:-

  • Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime;
  • Ensuring that gambling is carried out in a fair and open way;
  • Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

It should be noted that the Commission has stated: "The requirement in relation to children is explicitly to protect them from being harmed or exploited by gambling".

This Licensing Authority is aware in making decisions about premises licences and temporary use notices it should aim to permit the use of premises for gambling in so far as it thinks it is:

  • in accordance with any relevant code of practice issued by the Commission;
  • in accordance with any relevant guidance issued by the Commission;
  • reasonably consistent with the licensing objectives and
  • in accordance with the authority's statement of licensing principles.

The licensing framework

The Gambling Act 2005 brought about changes to the way that gambling is administered in the United Kingdom. The Commission is responsible for the issue of Operating and Personal licences and is the national gambling regulator and has a lead role in working with central government and local authorities to regulate gambling activity.

Any operator wishing to provide gambling at a certain premise must have applied for the requisite personal licence and operator's licence with the Commission before they can approach the Licensing Authority for a premises licence. In this way the Commission is able to screen applicants and organisations to ensure they have the correct credentials to operate gambling premises. The Local Authorities role is to ensure premises are suitable for providing gambling in line with the three licensing objectives and any codes of practice issued by the Commission.

The Licensing Authority also issues various permits and notices to regulate smaller scale and or ad-hoc gambling in various other locations such as pubs, clubs and hotels.

The Licensing Authority does not licence large society lotteries or remote gambling through websites. These areas fall to the Commission. The National Lottery is regulated by the National Lottery Commission. Remote Gambling (online) is dealt with by the Commission and Spread Betting is regulated by the Financial Services Authority FSA.

The Gambling Commission

The Gambling Commission regulates gambling in the public interest. The Commission provides independent advice to the Government about the manner in which gambling is carried out, the effects of gambling and the regulation of gambling generally. The Commission draws on the intelligence and insights of its regulatory partners, in particular licensing authorities, who may well be better positioned to identify emerging risks to the licensing objectives, or instances of illegality which can start at a local level. By working closely together it will help prevent such risks growing into a more widespread problem and to ensure that both Commission and Licensing Authority resources are used efficiently. The Commission issues guidance in accordance with the Act about the manner in which Licensing Authorities exercise their licensing functions under the Act and in particular, the principles to be applied and issues Codes of Practice about the way in which facilities for gambling are provided, which may include provisions about the advertising of gambling facilities.

Licensing Authority functions

'Gambling' is defined in the Act as either gaming, betting, or taking part in a lottery.

  • Gaming means playing a game of chance for a prize
  • Betting means making or accepting a bet on the outcome of a race, competition, or any other event; the likelihood of anything occurring or not occurring; or whether anything is true or not
  • A lottery is where persons are required to pay in order to take part in an arrangement, during the course of which one or more prizes are allocated by a process which relies wholly on chance

Licensing Authorities are required under the Act to:

  • Be responsible for the licensing of premises where gambling activities are to take place by issuing Premises Licences
  • Issue Provisional Statements
  • Regulate members' clubs and miners' welfare institutes who wish to undertake certain gaming activities via issuing Club Gaming Permits and/or Club Machine Permits
  • Issue Club Machine Permits to Commercial Clubs
  • Grant permits for the use of certain lower stake gaming machines at unlicensed Family Entertainment Centres
  • Receive notifications from alcohol licensed premises (under the Licensing Act 2003) for the use of two or less gaming machines
  • Grant Licensed Premises Gaming Machine Permits for premises licensed to sell/supply alcohol for consumption on the licensed premises, under the Licensing Act 2003, where more than two machines are required
  • Register small society lotteries below prescribed thresholds
  • Issue Prize Gaming Permits
  • Receive and Endorse Temporary Use Notices
  • Receive Occasional Use Notices
  • Provide information to the Commission regarding details of licences issued
  • Maintain registers of the permits and licences that are issued under these functions

Responsible authorities

The Licensing Authority is required by regulations to state the principles it will apply in exercising its powers under the Act to designate, in writing, a body which is competent to advise the authority about the protection of children from harm. The principles are:

  • the need for the body to be responsible for an area covering the whole of the Licensing Authority's area
  • the need for the body to be answerable to democratically elected persons, rather than any particular vested interest group

In accordance with the Commission's Guidance for local authorities this Council designates the Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Local Safeguarding Children Board for this purpose. The two Safeguarding Children Boards on Teesside have developed a Tees Local Safeguarding Children Boards' Procedures website 

Applicants may find this website useful as a point of reference and information, when producing their own policies and procedures in relation to the objective of protection of children and vulnerable people.

The contact details of all the Responsible Bodies under the Gambling Act 2005 are available at Appendix 3.

Interested parties

Interested parties can make representations about licence applications or apply for a review of an existing licence. In the Gambling Act 2005 as a person is an interested party in relation to an application for, or in respect of, a premises licence if, in the opinion of the Licensing Authority which issues the licence or to which the application is made, the person-

a)    lives sufficiently close to the premises to be likely to be affected by the authorised activities,

b)    has business interests that might be affected by the authorised activities, or

c)     represents persons who satisfy paragraph (a) or (b)

The Licensing Authority is required by regulations to state the principles it will apply in exercising its powers under the Gambling Act 2005 to determine whether a person is an interested party. The principles are:

Each case will be decided upon its merits. This authority will not apply a rigid rule to its decision making. It will consider the examples of considerations provided in the Commission's Guidance to local authorities. Note though that decisions on premises licences and temporary use notices must be "in accordance" with Commission Guidance. It will also consider the Commission's Guidance that "has business interests" should be given the widest possible interpretation and include partnerships, charities, faith groups and medical practices.

The Commission has recommended that the Licensing Authority states that interested parties include trade associations and trade unions, and residents' and tenants' associations. This authority will not, however, generally view these bodies as interested parties unless they have a member who can be classed as one under the terms of the Gambling Act 2005 e.g. lives sufficiently close to the premises to be likely to be affected by the activities being applied for.

Interested parties can be persons who are democratically elected such as Councillors and MP's. No specific evidence of being asked to represent an interested person will be required as long as the Councillor/MP represents the ward likely to be affected. Likewise, parish councils likely to be affected, will be considered to be interested parties.  Other than these, however, this authority will generally require written evidence that a person/body (e.g. an advocate/relative) 'represents' someone who either lives sufficiently close to the premises to be likely to be affected by the authorised activities and/or has business interests that might be affected by the authorised activities. A letter from one of these persons, requesting the representation is sufficient.

If individuals wish to approach Councillors to ask them to represent their views then care should be taken that the Councillors are not part of the Statutory Licensing Committee dealing with the licence application. If there are any doubts then please contact the licensing service.

Consultation

This Statement of Licensing Principles has been subject to statutory consultation including:

  • Cleveland Police;
  • Representatives of the holders of the various licences for premises within the Borough who will be affected by this Policy;
  • Persons/bodies representing the interests of persons likely to be affected by this Policy.

Exchange of information

In fulfilling its functions and obligations under the Gambling Act 2005 the Council will exchange relevant information with other regulatory bodies and will establish protocols in this respect. In exchanging such information, the Council will conform to the requirements of General Data Protection Regulations and freedom of information legislation in accordance with the Council's existing policies.

The Council will also have regard to any Guidance issued by the Commission to Local Authorities on this matter when it is published, as well as any relevant regulations issued by the Secretary of State under the powers provided in the Gambling Act 2005.

Details of those persons making representations will be made available to applicants to allow for negotiation and, in the event of a hearing being held, will form part of a public document. Anyone making representations or applying for the review of a premises licence will be informed that their details will be disclosed.

Enforcement, inspection and criminal proceedings

Licensing authorities are required by regulation under the Gambling Act 2005 to state the principles to be applied by the authority in exercising the functions under Part 15 of the Act with respect to the inspection of premises; and the powers under section 346 of the Act to institute criminal proceedings in respect of the offences specified.

This Licensing Authority's principles are that:

It will be guided by the Commission's Guidance for local authorities and will endeavour to be:

  • Proportionate: regulators should only intervene when necessary, remedies should be appropriate to the risk posed, and costs identified and minimised;
  • Accountable: regulators must be able to justify decisions, and be subject to public scrutiny;
  • Consistent: rules and standards must be joined up and implemented fairly;
  • Transparent: regulators should be open, and keep regulations simple and user friendly;
  • Targeted: regulation should be focused on the problem and minimise side effects.

As per the Commission's Guidance for local authorities this Licensing Authority will endeavour to avoid duplication with other regulatory regimes so far as possible and as recommended by the Commission's Guidance adopt a risk-based inspection programme. The main enforcement and compliance role for this Licensing Authority in terms of the Gambling Act 2005 will be to ensure compliance with the Premises Licences and other permissions which it authorises, concerns about manufacture, supply or repair of gaming machines will not be dealt with by the Licensing Authority but will be notified to the Commission.

This Authority will have regard to the Statutory Regulator's Code which came into force in April 2014.  We support the principle of better regulation to promote efficient, proportionate and effective approaches to enforcement and inspection and also policy formulation that improve regulatory outcomes without imposing unnecessary burdens on business. A copy of this document can be found on the gov.uk website.

Stockton Borough Council's Corporate Enforcement Policy is published on the council website.

This Authority acknowledges the Primary Authority Scheme. This scheme allows businesses to be involved in their own regulation. It enables them to form a statutory partnership with one local authority, which then provides robust and reliable advice for other local regulators to take into account when carrying out inspections or addressing non-compliance. Where there is a Primary Authority Arrangement in place between a business operator and a local authority no enforcement action will be taken before consultation with the Primary Authority. Further information on the scheme and an up to date list of arrangements can be accessed on the Gambling Commission website Authorities section.

In relation to the underage gambling controls, this Licensing Authority will follow the Better Regulation Delivery Office Code of Practice for Age Restricted Products and Services. We will consider the use of test purchase checks with young volunteers where there is evidence that it is necessary and proportionate to do so and will work in conjunction with the Commission where appropriate.

In relation to self-exclusion procedures, this Licensing Authority will consider the use of test purchase exercise where there is evidence that it is necessary to do so and will work in conjunction with the Commission where appropriate.

Public register

Section 156 of the 2005 Act requires licensing authorities to maintain a register of the premises licences that it has issued. This register must be made available, at any reasonable time, to the public who may request copies of the entries. The register can be found on the Council website.

Fees

Information regarding the fees to be charged, including the level of fees, for applications for premises licences and other permissions under the Act is available on the Council website.

The licensing process

The Council's licensing functions under the Act will be carried out by the Statutory Licensing Committee, supported by a number of sub-committees and by officers acting under the delegated authority of the committee.

Where there are no areas of contention it is considered that many of the functions will be largely administrative. In the interests of efficiency and effectiveness officers will, for the most part, carry these out.

Where there are relevant representations in respect of an application the matter will be determined by the Statutory Licensing Sub Committee, as will any application for the review of a licence.

This Statement is not intended to override the right of any person to make an application under the Act, and to have that application considered on its merits. Equally, the Statement is not intended to undermine the right of any person to make representations about an application or to seek a review of a licence where provision has been made for them to do so.