The Gambling Act 2005 (the Act) gives effect to the Government's proposals for reform of the law on gambling. The Act comprehensively modernises the law on gambling and contains a new regulatory system to govern the provision of all gambling in Great Britain, other than the National Lottery and spread betting. On the 7th April 2005, the Gambling Bill received Royal Assent and became an Act of Parliament.
The Act places responsibilities on licensing authorities in ways similar to the Licensing Act 2003. There are some interdependencies between the licensing Act 2003 and the Gambling Act 2005 in terms of the framework for decision making and the procedures that must be followed. However licensing authorities must take care to ensure that in dealing with applications under the Gambling Act they follow the procedures that this act requires and only take into account issues that are relevant to the Gambling Act 2005. Particular care must be taken not to confuse Gambling Act considerations with those relevant to alcohol licensing or planning.
The Act repeals the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963, the Gaming Act 1968 and the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976.
Gambling will be unlawful in Great Britain, unless permitted by:
Two comprehensive offences are established: providing facilities for gambling or using premises for gambling, in either case without the appropriate permission. Such permission may come from a licence, permit, or registration granted pursuant to the Act or from an exemption given by the Act. Where authority to provide facilities for gambling is obtained under the Act, it will be subject to varying degrees of regulation, depending on the type of gambling, the means by which it is conducted, and the people by whom and to whom it is offered.
The Act introduces a unified regulator for gambling in Great Britain, the Gambling Commission ("the Commission"), and a new licensing regime for commercial gambling (to be conducted by the Commission or by licensing authorities, depending on the matter to be licensed). The Act removes from licensing justices all responsibility for granting gaming and betting permissions, which they exercised previously. Instead, the Commission and licensing authorities will share between them responsibility for all those matters previously regulated by licensing justices.
The Commission will take over from the Gaming Board for Great Britain. In addition to assuming responsibility for the Board's current remit of regulating gaming and certain lotteries, the Commission will take on responsibility for regulating betting. The Commission will be responsible for granting operating and personal licenses for commercial gambling operators and personnel working in the industry. It will also regulate certain lottery managers and promoters. The Act sets out different types of operating licence that cover the full spectrum of commercial gambling activities conducted in Great Britain. It also makes provision for the Commission to have powers of entry and inspection to regulate gambling, with safeguards for those subject to the powers.
Licensing authorities will have new powers to license gambling premises within their area, as well as undertaking functions in relation to lower stake gaming machines. In England and Wales local authorities are given these responsibilities. There will be a new system of temporary use notices. These will authorise premises that are not licensed generally for gambling purposes to be used for certain types of gambling, for limited periods.
Whilst the Gambling Commission will regulate the gambling industry, the Act gives licensing authorities a number of important regulatory functions related to gambling. Licensing authorities will take over responsibility for granting premises licenses and permits for gambling – a function which is currently mainly undertaken in England and Wales by magistrates courts.
The functions will include issuing premises licenses for:
and granting permits for:
Licensing Authorities will have powers to impose conditions and review licenses with respect to their licensees. The local authority will also have responsibility for monitoring and enforcing the licenses and permits it issues.
Licensing authorities will have an obligation to provide information to the Gambling Commission, including details of licenses, permits and registrations issued.
The Act provides that all decisions relating to premises licenses are delegated to the licensing committee of the authority, except for:
Certain decisions that are delegated to a licensing committee may be further delegated to a sub-committee of the licensing committee or an officer of the authority.
Responsible authorities and interested parties can make representations on the grant of licenses, but it should be noted that the provisions are similar, but not identical, to those contained in the Licensing Act.
In preparation for receiving applications for premises licenses under the new Act, from the beginning of 2007, licensing authorities are required to publish every three years, a statement of the principles which they propose to apply when exercising their functions. This will set out how the authority will meet the licensing objectives of the Act. Authorities must consult on their draft statements and communities and businesses will have a chance to comment on their authority's proposed approach.
The Act contains three licensing objectives which underpin the functions that the Commission and licensing authorities will perform. These objectives are central to the new regulatory regime. They are:
The Act provides for three categories of licence:
Operator's and personal licenses will be issued and regulated by the Gambling Commission whilst local authorities will be responsible for the issue and regulation of premises licenses.
There will initially be a total of 17 casinos divided into three categories throughout England & Wales as follows:
The Secretary of State has appointed an independent Casino Advisory Panel to advise the Government by the end of 2006 on the areas in which the new types of casino will be located. The Secretary of State will then specify the areas for the 17 new casinos, the primary considerations being social impact and regeneration.
Once Parliament has approved the areas for the new casinos, the licensing authorities for those areas will be able to begin the process of issuing the new casino licenses.
The Act states that a licensing authority may resolve not to issue casino premises licenses. The decision to pass such a resolution may only be taken by the authority as a whole and cannot be delegated to the Licensing Committee. In passing the resolution the authority may take into account any principle or matter, not just the licensing objectives. Where such a resolution is passed it must be published in the authorities licensing policy statement.
The resolution must apply to casinos generally, so that the authority cannot limit its effects to geographical areas or categories of casinos. The resolution must specify the date it comes into effect and the authority may revoke the resolution by making a counter resolution. The resolution will lapse after three years. The authority should therefore pass a resolution every three years to keep such a policy in place.
Any resolution only affects new casinos. It will not affect casino premises licenses issued before the resolution takes effect or on provisional statements issued before that date. Similarly it will not affect the ability of existing casinos with preserved entitlements from the 1968 Gambling Act from continuing to operate as casinos.
The Act provides the Gambling Commission, local authorities, licensing authorities and the police with the powers necessary to monitor compliance with the provisions of the Act and with licence conditions, and to investigate suspected offences.
In general the Gambling Commission will take the lead on the investigation and prosecution of illegal gambling, but there may be occasions on which licensing authorities are better placed to take the lead, particularly where there is illegal activity on a smaller scale that is confined to one authority area.
July to Oct 2006
Fareham Borough Council draft policy published, circulated and made available for consultation
1st January 2007
Gambling Commission invite applications for Operators Licenses and Personal Licenses for commercial gambling operators and personnel working in the industry
31st January 2007
Local Authorities begin to accept applications for Permits and Premises Licenses
1st September 2007
Act fully in force
Post September 2007
Gambling Commission to continue evolution of guidance and best practice
Local authorities to keep local licensing policies under review