Agenda item

Statement of Gambling Principles 2019-2022

To receive a report from the Strategic Director of Environment & Regeneration seeking approval, following its endorsement and referral by Cabinet (12 November 18), to the revised Statement of Gambling Principles 2019-2022.


AGREED that Council approve the revised Statement of Gambling Principles 2019-2022 as detailed within Appendix 1 of the report.


Councillor Tom Miller (Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities) introduced the report from the Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment seeking approval of the revised Statement of Gambling Principles 2019-2022 following its consideration and referral by Cabinet on 12 November 18.


Introducing the report, he highlighted that the Statement was intended to set out the Council’s (as Licensing Authority) policy for dealing with applications and regulating gambling premises within the Borough.  As required under the Gambling Act 2005 the Statement had been subject to a three year review, with the outcome of the consultation process detailed within Appendix 2 of the report.  Whilst comments received from representatives of the gambling industry as part of the consultation had been critical of the reference within the Executive Summary to the potential harm and costs associated with gambling, he felt these had been justified in terms of the restrictions on the Council being able to set its own policy.  The comments, he felt, had provided a wider context to the Council’s policy whilst still adhering to the regulations and Gambling Commission’s Guidance.


Councillor Miller felt that Council’s needed to be given more flexibility in setting their policy around the licensing and regulation of gambling premises, especially where there were concerns relating to anti-social behaviour, minors or public health but advised he was supportive of the Government’s recent U-turn in respect of the policy on fixed odd betting terminals.


Subject to members approving the revised Statement, he advised the Statement would then be published for a final four week period of public inspection.


The Mayor then invited opened up the debate for other members to speak on the report.


Councillor Kelcher, whilst not opposed to the approach outlined, felt there was also a need to consider the disparity in the way gambling on the high street was treated when compared to premises, for example, selling alcohol when problems were experienced.  Whilst the policy was focussed around gambling operators on the high street he felt there were similar, if not more, issues needing to be tackled from a public health perspective in relation to advertising and online gambling.


Councillor Choudhary, whilst also supportive of the revised Statement, highlighted the need to ensure consistent enforcement of the policy in relation to the three objectives of the Gambling Act 2005, as detailed within section 3.7 of the report.


As a final comment, Councillor Nerva felt it would be helpful if the Council had the power to seek financial contributions, in a similar way to the operation of s106 agreements within planning, from gambling operators seeking a licence as a contribution towards related public health work and felt lobbying of the Government would be required to ensure the necessary legislative changes were made.


As no other Members indicated they wished to speak, the Mayor then invited Councillor Miller to sum up and close the debate.  Thanking Members for their contributions he began by highlighting a need to recognise the clear distinction between Licensing and Planning powers. Whilst these did not currently include the ability for Licensing Authorities to levy a surcharge in relation to gambling applications this was something he felt the Government should consider enabling Councils to utilise as an option, if required.  Referring to enforcement, he highlighted the more extensive powers available in relation to regulating the sale of alcohol on which he advised members a further policy review was also planned.  In terms of the focus relating to on-line gambling he highlighted the difficulties in individual Licensing Authorities being able to regulate on-line provision compared to local high street gambling operators where problems relating to anti-social behaviour, street drinking and minors were more readily identifiable.  Nevertheless he recognised the important role the Council had in relation to public health and in tackling issues related to the risk of gambling related harm, which was a key issue the revised Statement had been designed to address and on which further discussions around wider preventative action would continue within Cabinet.


The Mayor then put the recommendations to the vote by a show of hands and they were unanimously CARRIED.


It was therefore RESOLVED to approve the revised Statement of Gambling Principles 2019-2022 as detailed within Appendix 1 of the report.

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