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Licensing news England and Wales - December 2018

This month in summary

Licensing news

Government begins consultation on licensing airside alcohol

As a direct result of the increase in reported alcohol associated air-rage incidents and the commercial disruption it causes, the Government is consulting on the potential introduction of alcohol licensing laws airside at airports in England and Wales.

Currently, airside pubs and shops selling alcohol at international airports in England and Wales are not regulated by the Licensing Act 2003. The consultation follows a recommendation made by the House of Lords Select Committee in their report on licensing laws in England and Wales which reported in 2017. 

The Government is looking for a cross-section of stakeholder and public views as to whether this should change.

The Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins said:

"Air travel often marks the start of an exciting holiday abroad and airports are places to eat, drink and shop as we wait to board our flights.

"Most UK air passengers behave responsibly when flying, but any disruptive or drunk behaviour is entirely unacceptable.

"This government is committed to ensuring that the travelling environment for airline passengers remains safe and enjoyable.

"This is an excellent opportunity for all interested parties to engage directly with us, inform our understanding of the problem and identify suitable solutions."

A survey by the trade union Unite found that 78% of respondents had witnessed drunken passenger behaviour at UK airports on flights.

This review is not considering regulating the sale and supply of alcohol on planes, where travellers already face up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine for drunkenness on an aircraft.

Interested parties have until the 1 February 2009 to respond. Read the full details of proposal.

Top Licensing Tip: keeping festivities fun

Planning for the festive season? Read our top tips for keeping it safe, legal and fun:

Licence hours/activities

Many licences have quirky hours around Christmas and New Year. For instance, some licences restrict hours on Christmas Day, whilst because New Year's Eve falls on a Monday, many licences will have more restrictive hours than if NYE was a Friday. Some licences also benefit from extended hours around December. It's worth checking carefully to see what your licence permits to ensure you have the hours you need for trading. If not, TENs deadlines are coming up fast!

If you don’t have provision for live or recorded music on your licence, then don't forget that the Live Music Act and Recorded music exemptions can allow limited provision of either. Unless expressly removed, these exemptions allow entertainment to be provided without a licence in premises selling alcohol (on sales only), but only up to 11pm. If you need longer, then TENs are your best bet. An additional benefit is that the exemptions apply to conditions restricting live or recorded music at the same time too. If in doubt, however, seek advice to ensure you understand what you can and cannot provide. 


Each year, the onus is on both on and off-licence holders to ensure that they identify and deal appropriately with vulnerable customers. Christmas is a particularly difficult time as people who don't normally drink or socialise together will be out in force. Looking out for obvious signs of drunkenness is a must. Also, the potential for inappropriate behaviour increases, and with it, the likelihood of complaints to staff about unwanted approaches/ touching etc. Putting in place procedures and briefing staff on how to deal with these matters is critical to proper planning.

Have a safe, profitable and happy festive season! 

Gambling news

Pubs are failing to properly monitor gambling machines, Gambling Commission reports

Nine out of ten pubs subject to licensing authority 'test purchase' operations on the use of gaming machines failed to challenge the customer's use, a report by the Gambling Commission has found.

From the 61 tests undertaken, with under 18's sent to play category C machines in pubs, only one in ten resulted in a member of staff challenging the age of the player. This is in contrast to an average pass rate of over 70% for underage test purchases of products such as alcohol and tobacco. Category D machines, the only other gaming machine class permitted in pubs, are not age-restricted.

Both the Gambling Commission and Local Government Association expressed serious concerns in the results, and emphasised that failing to prevent under 18's from playing the machines was a criminal offence, carrying up to 51 weeks in prison and/ or an unlimited fine for the licence holder/ DPS. Under 18's caught playing the machines can also be subject to a fine if prosecuted.

It is the responsibility of the Designated Premises Supervisor to ensure that any machines made available on the premises are supervised either by staff or other means, in order to prevent under-age access to under 18 prohibited machines. Machines also must not be placed next to any cash machine. Ensuring that staff are sufficiently trained in their obligations is also necessary to demonstrate proper due diligence has been undertaken to prevent illegal machine use. 

The Gambling Commission has published advice in relation to gambling machines in pubs, a copy of which can be found on the Gambling Commission's website

Gambling Commission publishes new report on children and gambling trends

The Gambling Commission has said stronger partnerships are needed to protect children following a report published in November 2018.

The gambling regulator has called for regulators and businesses across industries to work together, but the research also shows the important influence parents can have on children’s gambling behaviour. The report reveals that gambling participation by 11 to 16 year olds has increased in the last 12 months but remains lower compared to all previous years. However, the research indicated that more children are at risk of being harmed by gambling.

Headlines include:

  • 14% of 11-16 year olds have gambled in the last week
  • 66% of 11-16 year olds have been exposed to gambling advertising on TV
  • 12% of 11-16 year olds follow gambling companies on social media.

The report can be found on the Gambling Commission's website.

Out and about

As the final leaves fall from the trees and autumn gives way to the bracing winds of winter, events, hearings and meetings keep us warm and on the move. Recent events in Birmingham and London and Cardiff alongside hearings and meetings in at various points of the compass, as far north as Leeds and as far south as Cornwall has kept us busy. In particular, the OriGins festival saw Scottish gin manufacturers take over the iconic Tobacco Dock space in Wapping, London for 2 days of gin tasting and traditional Scottish fare. Distilleries from every corner of Scotland put on a grand show, with live music, talks, tastings and great Scottish hospitality from the organisers and distillers. Roll on 2019's event…

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at December 2018. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

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