The Act defines ‘child’ as those persons under 16 years of age and ‘young persons’ as those persons aged 16 or 17. For the purposes of this policy, the Licensing Authority considers “children” to refer to all persons under 18 years old.
While the term 'vulnerable' is not defined in the Act, the Gambling Commission assumes for regulatory purposes that vulnerable people include:
- those who gamble more than they want to
- people who gamble beyond their means
- people who may not be able to make informed or balanced decisions about gambling (for example due to mental health issues, a learning disability or substance misuse relating to alcohol or drugs)
The Licensing Authority is aware that the impact of gambling is complex. It is not just the gambler who may be vulnerable to harm or exploitation but also their friends, family, customers and staff at gambling facilities along with the wider society.
What constitutes ‘harmed or exploited’ is not defined within the Act. There are various issues associated with compulsive or problem gambling including physical, psychological and social harms.
Licensees and applicants will be expected to demonstrate through their risk assessment that they have given careful consideration to indications of deprivation in the local area and the impact of their gambling activities on:
- young people
- the homeless
- the unemployed
- those affected with mental health conditions
- those on low incomes
- those from identified vulnerable ethnic minority groups
Licence applications, including review applications, in areas of where there is a higher degree of concern because of increased risk of harm to or exploitation of children and/or vulnerable persons will receive particular attention by the Licensing Authority.
Licensees and applicants will be expected to demonstrate through their risk assessment that they have given careful consideration to protecting children and vulnerable persons from harm and exploitation and have robust control measures in place. In circumstances where the Licensing Authority considers that the proposals are inadequate, additional conditions may be imposed.
Appropriate control measures that may be considered include:
- Use of refusal logs to record failed proof of age ID checks
- Conspicuous signage advertising proof of age policy
- Use of till prompts to remind staff to implement proof of age policy
- Leaflets offering assistance to problem gamblers prominently displayed on the premises
- Notices displayed on the premises, in appropriate languages, to signpost support services for problem gamblers 18
- Documented staff training, with regular refresher training, with a focus on identifying vulnerable persons and implementing appropriate strategies for action where necessary
- Maintaining records of customer interactions where staff have concerns that a customer’s behaviour may indicate problem gambling
- Regular staff meetings to discuss and identify local vulnerability issues
- Robust implementation of self-exclusion schemes, supported with signposting to appropriate sources of support and advice e.g. GamCare and Gamblers Anonymous
- Records to be maintained of self-exclusions schemes
- Rules being available in relation to the acceptance of bets, void bets, late bets and maximum pay-outs
- Written procedures in place and available in relation to handling customer complaints and the resolution of disputes and the arrangements for referring disputes to an identified independent person or body offering alternative dispute resolution services
- Windows and entrance displays designed so as not to entice passers-by
- Designing the layout, lighting and fitting out of the premises so as not to attract children and other vulnerable persons who might be harmed or exploited by gambling
- Promotional material associated with the premises will be designed not to encourage the use of the premises by children or young people if they are not legally allowed to do so
- Regular liaison with local support services to identify emerging trends and existing issues in respect of vulnerability
- Avoidance of incentives to enter or loiter within shops, for example by not offering free food and drink or prohibiting customers from bringing their own refreshments
- Active participation and support for local forums that support the licensing objectives
- Avoidance of loan working, particularly in high risk areas
- Positioning gaming machines so they are not visible to passers-by
- Daily staff diaries to record any issues of concern observed by staff or actions taken
- The provision of SIA registered door supervisors
- The use of floor walkers to interact with customers
- Monitoring outside areas for signs of customer vulnerability for example alcohol and drug use, signs of homelessness, begging, children congregating outside or children of customers left outside unsupervised
- Effective staff support systems
- Prohibition of ATMs on the premises
This list not is by no means exhaustive and is provided as a guide. Operators and applicants should also be aware that there are extensive conditions attached to operating and personal licences issued by the Gambling Commission, along with additional mandatory conditions imposed by the Act on gambling facilities and activities.
In circumstances where the Licensing Authority considers that the risk of harm or exploitation to children and other vulnerable persons cannot be sufficiently mitigated by either the proposed control measures or additional conditions, an application may be refused or licence revoked in the case of a review application.
Children are not permitted to use Category C or above machines and in premises where these machines are available and children are permitted on the premises, the Licensing Authority will generally require:
- all Category C and above machines to be located in an area of the premises which is separated from the remainder of the premises by a physical barrier to prevent access other than through a designated entrance
- adults only to be admitted to the area where these machines are located
- adequate supervised access to the area where the machines are located
- the area where these machines are located is arranged so that it can be observed by the staff or the licence holder
- prominent notices displayed at the entrance to, and inside, any such areas indicating that access to the area is prohibited to persons under 18