Council consultation on Gambling Act

Winchester City Council will have a wider role and new enforcement powers under the new Gambling Act and they are asking people for their views on a draft "Statement of Principles" between now and the end of September. The Statement is a requirement of the Act, and will set out how the Council will deal with its wider role.

"The new Act will have a limited impact on the City Council due to the type and level of gambling across the district," said Cllr Fiona Mather, Chairman of the Licensing and Regulation Committee.

"We do not have any casinos built or planned, nor are there any bingo halls or amusement arcades. We have 3 betting shops, around 50 premises with gaming machines and about 150 pubs and clubs with gaming machines. We already license small society lotteries, of which there are around 150," she added.

"We do have limited discretion on what can and cannot be included in our Statement," Cllr Mather said. "As Licensing authority we cannot consider areas such as moral objections to gambling, considerations relating to planning, or the demand for gambling premises."

The Council's Licensing and Regulation Committee considered a report last night (7 August) detailing their role and responsibilities under the Act and approved the draft Statement of Principles as a consultation draft, as required by central government.

This draft will be published on the Council's website and a paper copy will be sent to anyone requesting one. The Council is asking for responses to be sent back by 29 September. A report will then go to a special meeting of the Licensing and Regulation Committee on 24 October, full Council on 1 November and the statement will come into effect on 31 January 2007. The full Act is due to become fully operational in September 2007.

The Act contains three licensing objectives that will underpin the functions that the new Gaming Commission and licensing authorities, such as Winchester, perform.

They are
• Preventing gambling from being a source of crime and disorder, being associated with crime and 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