Agenda item

Statement of Gambling Policy

To consider the draft Statement of Gambling Policy.


Daliah Barrett, Licensing Team Leader, introduced a report on the Council’s draft Statement of Gambling Policy.  Local authorities were required to review this every three years.  The draft was currently being consulted upon by the Council and the Committee were invited to submit any comments that they may have.  The consultation would on 6 September and the final policy would be approved by Cabinet in November. 


Gambling was legal but had the potential to cause a range of harm and there was also a disproportionate impact on some communities.  The Gambling Commission had acknowledged the harm gambling caused and was undertaking some work to address it.  Research was taking place and it was being looked at as a public health issue.   The Council’s draft statement focused on how the Council carried out its regulation of gambling.  Key licensing objectives were preventing crime and disorder, ensuring that gambling was fair and open and protecting children and vulnerable people.


The current legislation was permissive and designed to provide “light touch” regulation.  The draft statement was based on legislation and guidance from the Gambling Commission.  There were currently no casinos in Haringey.  There had been some clustering of betting shops and this had been driven by the prevalence of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).  However, stakes had been reduced to £2 from April 2019 and this had led to clustering no longer being profitable for operators.  Whilst this had led to a reduction in the number of betting shops, some had been re-purposed as adult gaming centres.  The Local Area Profile acted as a guide for operators to use when preparing risk assessments.  There were default conditions for adult gaming centres and these included 24 hour opening but the Local Area Profile had been used to bring about reduced hours for them within the borough. 


The Council had responded to the recent call for evidence as part of the review of the Gambling Act.  It had asked that the community impact could be taken into account when determining applications, that the “needs test” be restored and that the “aim to permit” provision in current legislation be removed. The outcome of the review would not be known for another year.  The review had been geared towards looking at emerging issues though, such as the growth of on-line gambling. 


The consultation on the Council’s draft statement was underway and details had been shared with a wide range of stakeholders including Councillors, operators, neighbouring boroughs and the Citizen’s Panel.  It was an open and public consultation and residents were encouraged to respond.   However, the legislation forbade local authorities from just responding that there were too many gambling establishments in their area or putting forward moral considerations.  There was an argument for a bespoke piece of research being undertaken on the harm caused by gambling.  There was currently a lack of local data and research findings could be used to provide additional detail within the Local Area Profile. In answer to a question, she stated that there was a requirement within the Gambling Act to consult on the draft statement.  The views of residents were very welcome as part of the consultation but it was not possible for the Council to just state that there too many premises.

Committee Members felt that the consultation document needed to be made more accessible so that residents were better able to respond.  It was also felt that reference also needed to be made to support available to those harmed by gambling.  It was also felt that consideration could be given to proactively contacting residents regarding upcoming applications.  Ms Barrett responded that the Council could be vulnerable to legal challenge if there was an onus on it informing the local community of applications.  The Committee noted that the two high streets with the highest number of gambling establishments were Tottenham, which had 12, and Wood Green, which had 9.  The total number within the borough had reduced slightly from 64 to 58.


In answer to a question regarding whether it was possible for the Council to be explicit in its opposition to gambling, Ms Barrett stated that there was a need to be careful.  The Council could not be seen to be negative about an activity that was legal.  Licensing officers and the Licensing Committee had to remain neutral and balanced.  The best course of action was likely to be for the Council to continue to lobby central government. 


The Committee commented that seemed to be little purpose to the consultation on the policy as it was not possible to include the issue of greatest concern – the proliferation of gambling establishments – in the response due to the current legislation.   The most fruitful way forward was likely to be building a campaign to persuade the government to change licensing legislation and involving local MPs in this.  In addition, residents could be kept informed of any upcoming applications.


Councillor Tucker commented that although the policy following a prescribed format, the foreword came from the Council.  He was the view that this should be reconsidered and rewritten in a way that was less supportive of the gambling industry.


The Committee noted that there were limited funds within the budget for Overview and Scrutiny to cover the cost of support for individual scrutiny projects.  In addition, the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny were currently working on a project with the Gambling Commission on the harm caused by gambling to raise awareness and increase the involvement of elected Members in addressing it.  It was also noted that there was a responsibility on the gambling industry to contribute to support for problem gamblers.  However, such individuals were required to self-declare.  Ms Barrett stated that she was happy to assist any Members of the Committee who wished to bring the consultation to the attention of schools or other organisations.  The Council was required to put the full statement on its website as part of the consultation.  However, there was also a survey that people could respond to as well.  She agreed to circulate a link to the consultation to all Members of the Committee.




1.    That Committee’s response to the consultation on the Statement of Gambling Policy be as follows:

(a). That the foreword to be re-written to be less supportive of gambling; and

(b).  That a greater effort be made to alert residents of forthcoming planning and licensing applications for gambling establishments.


2.    That a piece of research be commissioned by the Council on the local impact of gambling establishments on the community and, in particular, any harm caused by them.





Supporting documents: