This month in summary
Firstly, from all of the licensing team, let us wish you a belated Happy New Year and best wishes for a prosperous 2018.
As the new liquor licensing policy deadline becomes more of a reality for boards (end November 2018) we can expect more consultations in the coming weeks and months.
Renfrewshire are the latest to seek views of stakeholders.
Details of this consultation are published on the Licensing Board's website.
The initial, informal consultation will also enable the Licensing Board to obtain information to allow it to identify localities which may be overprovided, as relevant to the requirement to assess overprovision in the policy.
While the Board encourages responses on all parts of the policy, topics which may be of particular interest, as well as overprovision, are:
The consultation closes on Friday 2 February 2018.
Currently, all premises 'airside' at airports (those on the other side of departure security checks), are exempt from requiring a premises licence in order to sell alcohol. The issue has received significant coverage in the press, not least with a recent BBC Panorama. The House of Lords has recently call upon Westminster to act in respect of the similar arrangements in England and Wales. Those calls are being replicated north of the Border, with the Scottish Government facing pressure to bring airside venues within the scope of the 2005 Act.
As of 13 January 2018 operators are no longer permitted to add a handling charge on to customer bills for card transactions. The UK wide ban will apply to all cards as well as Paypal transactions.
The Gambling Commission (GC) has, following its widely publicised change in enforcement practice, opted to review five online casinos' operating licences. This follows investigations into practices and procedures for dealing with money laundering and identifying potential problem gambling at online casinos. The GC has publicised that as a result of its investigations it has written to seventeen companies in the sector expressing concerns.
The GC has stated that through its investigations, it has identified failings in relation to money laundering procedures, alongside companies' social responsibility provision, designed to protect under-age and problem gamblers. Both prevention of money laundering and protection of vulnerable persons are key tenets of the Gambling Act, with the GC noting that signs of problem gambling were not necessarily triggering sufficient customer interaction by gambling companies.
In relation to money laundering, however, the concerns that have led to the reviews of the operating licences included:
Where serious failings are found as part of a review, the GC has the power to revoke operating licences. Part of the new approach to enforcement as announced by the GC was to take much tougher attitude to failings than had previously been the case.
What is clear from the reviews is that each sector is likely to face scrutiny from the GC and action will follow if they consider policies and practices in place to be insufficient. The publicising of any such findings are designed to act as an additional deterrent.
One area identified by the GC facing additional scrutiny is the online gambling market in general given that it is now accounts for approximately a third of all gambling activity in the UK.
December was surprisingly busy for board and committee appearances, keeping the licensing team honest right up until the break. We successfully represented clients at – Stirling, West Lothian, Highland, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, Edinburgh, North Ayrshire and East Dunbartonshire.
In addition, we had success at interim appeal hearings, overturning the revocation of one licence and the suspension of another in two separate cases.
Stephen and Niall also found time to attend the famous Diageo Christmas Lunch.
This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at January 2018. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.