William Eichler 21 February 2022

Council chiefs call for powers to crackdown on gambling

Council chiefs call for powers to crackdown on gambling image
Image: Marko Aliaksandr/Shutterstock.com.

Local authority leaders have called on the Government to toughen up regulations on the gambling industry to help protect communities and vulnerable people from gambling-related harm.

The Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) are calling for tougher powers for councils to determine where and how many gambling premises can open in their areas. They are also urging the Government to give councils more powers to reduce the volume of advertising and marketing.

The call comes ahead of the publication of the Government’s white paper on the future of the Gambling Act.

Local authorities currently have limited powers to prevent the opening of gambling premises even if there are already others nearby or there are reasons why it may not be an appropriate location.

The LGA is calling for councils to be given more legal flexibility and power to approve or reject applications for local gambling premises depending on local circumstances, taking into consideration the interests of the local economy, community impact and views of local residents.

Councils and PCCs are also concerned about growing reports of people who are vulnerable to gambling-related harm being targeted with free bets and other marketing offers when they are trying to stop gambling.

The LGA and APCC want more powers to reduce the level of advertising promoting gambling.

‘Councils are not anti-gambling, but it is time we have a regulatory framework for gambling that above all else prioritises protecting vulnerable people from gambling-related harm and gives powers to local communities,’ said Cllr Nesil Caliskan, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board.

‘The Government should take steps to reduce the volume of advertising and marketing offers that are routinely made available via television and online.

‘The review is a golden opportunity for the Government to implement further measures that empower local communities and their elected representatives to determine what and how many gambling premises they have in their local areas. It is unacceptable that councils have such limited powers to refuse applications for new premises.’

Joy Allen and David Sidwick, APCC joint leads for Addictions and Substance Misuse, added: ‘We know that people are committing serious crimes to fund gambling addictions and Police and Crime Commissioners are committed to taking action to make our communities safer.

‘We support calls for councils to have more legal flexibility and power with respect to local gambling premises and we want to see measures to get to grips with problem gambling online.

‘Problem gambling can do a great deal of harm, to both the individual and to society, and we want to ensure that support is available to those affected and, where the industry has acted irresponsibly, it is held to account for its actions.’

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