The LGA has responded to the call for evidence in the Government’s Review of gaming machines and social responsibility measures. The LGA’s response calls for maximum FOBT stakes to be reduced to £2, and for councils to have greater powers to limit the numbers of gambling premises in their areas.
- The LGA welcomes this review into gaming machines and social responsibility measures, and in particular the broader focus on their impact on communities as well as individuals.
- We support Government’s objective of striking the right balance between socially responsible growth in the gaming / betting shop industry and the protection of consumers and wider communities.
- Councils are not anti-gambling. However, in relation to betting shops and B2 gaming machines, we believe that the Gambling Act has not to date struck the right balance between freedom for businesses to develop as they wish and the concerns and needs of local communities. This is in contrast to other areas of the Gambling Act, where stakes are significantly lower and there is greater control over the growth of premises, as well as in contrast to other areas of licensing legislation. This is something that we believe should be addressed.
- The regulation of gaming machines is not based on maximum stakes and prizes alone, but is also linked to the premises in which the machines are based. The statutory aim to permit prevents councils from taking steps to address the number of premises in areas where there are already clusters of betting shops. The LGA supports stronger powers for councils to limit betting shop clustering, and believes government should therefore introduce powers for councils to introduce local cumulative impact policies for gambling premises, equivalent to the power it is currently introducing in alcohol licensing.
- Similarly, we believe that the Gambling Act should replicate the wider set of objectives in the Licensing Act 2003, which as well as covering crime and disorder and the protection of young people also cover the prevention of public nuisance, and public safety. This would ensure that in those areas where there is anti-social behaviour linked to betting shops, councils are better equipped to address this.
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Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures: LGA response, December 2016