N March introduced the report and advised we were required to review our Gambling Act Statement of Principles every three years due to legislation. There hasn’t been any significant changes and the Gambling Commission were responsible for the guidance that they provide us in relation to our policy. They’ve advised us to go for a short consultation this time due to the lack of significant changes and they provided us with a track changes version of their guidance which we were able to use to check through our policy. He said he has been through their changes and reflected those in our document so this was really just a case of updating our policy in line with what the Gambling Commission required and then seek to go out to consultation on that. We have to do a wide consultation but a fairly short one which is why he proposed four weeks, and following that consultation the policy will come back to this committee to be recommended for adoption by Full Council. He welcomed questions from the committee.
The Chairman referred to the Statement of Principles at Appendix 1 and noted the following point at 10.5:
The licensing authority notes the Commission’s guidance on the meaning of ‘available for use’, including the provision that a greater number of machines may be located in the premises so long as there is a mechanism in place to disable machines and prevent the number of gaming machines which are actively available for use from exceeding the limit. Simply switching the gaming machine off at an adjacent power socket will not be acceptable to the licensing authority if a customer is able to reactivate the machine by switching it back on.
The Chairman asked for N March’s thoughts on this. She recalled being in premises where they had just taken the plug out of the machine at the end of the day.
N March explained they only really find out about these things if they receive complaints or reports and it was unlikely that someone would contact the council to say they noticed a machine was just unplugged. He said if officers were carrying out inspections and happened to notice that issue then they may have to consider how many machines were in the premises and how restricted and controlled the plugs and sockets were.
Councillor Pringle questioned whether there was any opportunity to alert those bodies who assist individuals with gambling problems to this consultation and ask them for their direct response rather than just hoping they come across it and respond.
N March advised they do have statutory consultees that they have to make sure they directly consult with but it should be a wide consultation, albeit a short one, for any organisation or provider that identifies that they may have a response. He explained they do have a list that they try to maintain and the consultation will be sent to all of those contacts, however some may bounce back where the addresses have changed in the last three years and need updating. He said getting responses for these consultations was quite difficult, even from those organisations that will have a keen interest. He suggested the biggest challenge was remote gambling as we don’t have any control over that.
That officers commence consultation with responsible authorities, representatives of licence-holders and other persons on the proposed revisions to the Council’s Statement of Principles under the Gambling Act 2005, and report the results to a future meeting of the Committee.