CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL’S GAMBLING POLICY
A summary of the policy & recommendations for Aberystwyth Town Council
The government has introduced a new Gambling Act 2005 which replaces previous laws to give a comprehensive framework for all gambling in the UK (apart from a few exceptions such as the National Lottery) – the act will come into force in September 2007. Basically, gambling will be illegal unless permitted by this new act. Providing premises for gambling, and using premises for gambling, will be crimes unless the appropriate permission has been granted. A new Gambling Commission will be set up to regulate gambling activities. Local authorities in England and Wales will become the Licensing Authorities for gambling.
The new act has three objectives which are central to the regulatory regime:
- 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 conducted in a fair and open way;
- Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
Role of Unitary Authorities
The main functions of the Licensing Authorities will be to:
- License premises for gambling activities
- Grant permits for gaming and gaming machines in clubs
- Regulate gaming and gaming machines in alcohol-licensed premises
- Grant permits to family entertainment centres for the use of certain lower-stake gaming machines
- Register small societies’ lotteries
Each Authority has to set out its policy relating to the issue of licenses and review the policy every three years. Town and Community Councils are statutory consultees for this policy-making exercise.
Certain Particulars from the Draft Ceredigion County Council Policy
- When deciding on any application, regard will be taken of the proximity of the premises to schools, vulnerable adult centres or residential areas with a high concentration of children.
- When considering conditions to be attached to any license, the Council will primarily focus on the direct impact of the activities taking place at the premises on members of the public living, working or engaged in normal activities in the area.
- The Council will set up a Licensing Sub-Committee to hear applications for gambling licenses. Ward Councillors will not sit on a committee meeting involving an application from their ward.
- With regard to casinos, the Council notes that there are at present no casinos within Ceredigion; and “is minded to prohibit Casinos in the County”.
- Ceredigion County Council’s Social Services Department will give advice to the Licensing Sub-Committee about the need to protect children from harm.
- Children will be prevented from entering those gambling premises which are adult only environments (with certain limited exceptions).
- Advertising for gambling premises will be limited so that it is not aimed at, or made attractive to, children.
Suggested Response from Aberystwyth Town Council
Aberystwyth Town Council welcomes the simplification and clarity which the new Gambling Act embodies. We also welcome the general thrust of the draft Statement of Gambling Policy. We add the following detailed comment:
- We are happy with the proposal not to allow the development of casinos in Ceredigion.
- We hope that there will be no unnecessary bureaucratic impediment put in the way of small clubs and societies who are used to being able to organise, for example, an annual fund-raising lottery or a prize draw at a function.
- The policy makes clear who will be formal consultees on the Licensing Policy. We suggest that University of Wales, Aberystwyth should be added to the list of formal consultees.
- It is not clear reading the policy who will be consulted on any individual application for a license. Appendix C mentions “representations” made to the Council about applications and how this will affect the Council’s decision-making process; but nowhere in the document is it spelt out who will be consulted on individual applications for a Gambling License. Is the Council going to publish them in local papers? Are all the statutory consultees for Statement of Gambling Policy going to be informed about individual applications? Some detail of how the application process would work, the timetable and opportunities for objectors would be helpful in this overall Gambling Policy statement.
- Clearly, it would be a waste of resources to go to any great lengths to publicise the smaller applications such as small society lotteries. On the other hand, this Town Council would welcome a policy which stated that any application for new gambling premises, or significant enlargement of existing gambling premises should automatically come to us for comment prior to the meeting of the Sub-Committee which will be making the decision on the application.
Cllr Chris Simpson
North Ward, Aberystwyth