Agenda item

Gambling Act 2005 Statement of Principles

Report of the Cabinet Member Customer & Regulatory Services


The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services presented the report, explaining that the council had a statutory duty to update and reconfirm its statement of principles every three years. He noted that Cheltenham had a long history as a place for gambling, most prominently through the racing festival but also through 13 other licensed gambling premises, as well as the council’s own Cheltenham Lottery in support of local causes. He encouraged responsible gambling as a way to support the local economy, but stressed that they must be alert to the risks too.

These risks would be addressed according to three principles: namely that gambling must not have any association with crime or disorder, that it must be conducted in a fair and open way, and that children must be protected from its dangers. The council recognised that when the fun stopped, the gambling must stop too. In order to do this, he was working with the Public Health team to build up local risk profiles and risk assessments. He acknowledged that national legislation severely limited their ability to refuse licenses, since the presumption was always in favour of granting them.

The changes made since the last statement of principles three years ago were largely technical – for example, changing references to the reformed organisation overseeing child safety. He added that the Cheltenham Lottery would be unaffected by any of the changes, and that the modest response to consultation had been taken on board.

One Member asked whether the council could do about the issue of self-exclusion, which was a strong indicator of vulnerability to gambling addiction. The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services responded that this would form part of the risk assessment procedure they was being strengthened. Section 5.5 of the report referenced self-exclusion, with one solution being to share information with nearby treatment centres to most effectively identify and support those at risk.

In debate, Members made the following comments:

-       the focus on treating gambling addiction as a public health issue was welcomed, and similar to the county council’s approach;

-       the recently-introduced national legislation restricting the use of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) was also welcomed.

The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services agreed with both comments, saying the county council has a good team working on gambling addiction as a public health issue, and that the reduction in the maximum bet on FOBTs from £100 to £2 would make a significant difference.    

One Member added that in their role as Chair of Licensing Committee, they were happy with the report as it effectively targeted the areas of policy in which the council could play a role. Many areas of licensing policy were a matter for national government, but it was important for the council to act where it could. They noted that Appendix D contained a list of organisations offering help and advice to those affected by gambling addiction, and suggested that Members could direct potentially vulnerable constituents to this.

The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services thanked Members for their contributions and asked that they approve the recommendations.

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