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Licensing news England and Wales - August 2016

What's been happening in the licensing community in England and Wales this month?

Alcohol and entertainment news

  • Hackney to consult on late night levy
  • Minister to look at curbing excessive alcohol consumption at airports
  • House of Lords investigations into ten years of the Licensing Act 2003 gathering pace

Gambling news

  • New licence conditions and code of practice to come into force from 31 October. 'Primary gambling activity test' to be scrapped
  • The Gambling Commissions Annual Report
  • Labrokes and Gala Coral merger set to proceed

Hackney to consult on a Late Night Levy

Hackney Borough Council has announced that they will be consulting on the introduction of a late night levy. The proposal is to charge premises selling alcohol after midnight to pay for policing and council services related to the upkeep of the night time economy.

The consultation is likely to take place between September and December this year, with the council looking to introduce the levy some time in June 2017.

We will provide full details once the consultation is under way.

Minister to look at curbing excessive alcohol consumption at airports

For nervous flyers and excited holiday makers, a pre-flight alcoholic beverage is part of the journey's ritual. But aviation minister Tariq Ahmad has announced that he is considering a crackdown on the sale of alcohol in airports. Currently, airport bars are permitted to sell alcohol 24 hours a day and shops sell duty-free alcohol that is, on occasion, consumed prior to take-off in departure lounges and on flights.

The review will look at all sources of alcohol available and how best to ensure that passengers are not causing disruption from drinking too much either on the ground or in the air.

Manchester and Glasgow airports have been trialling a 'sealed bag' policy to ensure duty-free alcohol purchased before flights is not opened and consumed there and then. Whether nervous flyers will be prevented from a readily available source of Dutch courage prior to a flight in the future remains to be seen.

House of Lords investigations into ten years of the Licensing Act 2003 gathering pace

The House of Lords committee assessing the impact of the Licensing Act has begun interviewing different groups interested in alcohol and entertainment. So far, they have interviewed representatives from the Institute of Alcohol Studies, Institute of Economic Affairs and Department of Communities and Local Government.

The call for evidence can be found here, with submissions due by 2 September 2016.

The committee are due to report by 23 March 2017.

New licence conditions and code of practice to come into force from 31 October. 'Primary gambling activity' test to be scrapped

The Gambling Commission (GC) has announced that there are to be a number of changes to the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) currently in force.

One of the most potentially radical changes follows the GC's consultation on where gaming machines may be played in an effort to ensure that the use of high stakes machines is limited to premises where their provision can be properly supervised in a socially responsible way.

The changes are aimed at ensuring the policy objectives are embedded consistently across the non-remote betting, bingo and casino sectors. This ensures that higher stake and prize gaming machines are made available in a socially responsible manner.

With very few low-risk exceptions, the GC is seeking to guarantee that machine use is confined to dedicated gambling premises, such as casinos, betting or bingo premises and gambling activities are supervised appropriately. Within bingo, betting and casino premises gaming machines must only be made available in combination with the non-remote gambling facilities named on the operating licence. The change of the primary gambling activity to a test of whether a premises provides substantive facilities for non-remote gaming is meant to prevent the proliferation of high-stake gaming machines.

The Gambling Commission’s Annual Report

The GC have published their annual report which can be accessed in full here

The Chairman of the Commission highlighted the increasing prevalence of global online gambling and gaming which presented new challenges for the regulation of gambling owing to the implementation of point of consumption regulation.

The new CEO, Sarah Harrison, was clear in her focus stating: "we will be mindful of the need to put consumers at the heart of regulation. This will include building on vital work to protect the most vulnerable, and setting standards for responsible and safe gambling."

The report also revealed interesting gambling statistics painting a picture of UK trends:

  • Almost a third (£3.6 billion) of the gambling market share is online betting, bingo and casino;
  • 18-24 year olds are least likely to gamble;
  • 45-54 year olds are most likely to gamble; and
  • A third of respondents had participated in National Lottery draws.

Ladbrokes and Gala Coral merger set to proceed

Following a finding by the Competition and Markets Authority Ladbrokes and Gala Coral can merge on the proviso they sell 350-400 betting shops between them. This requirement is to mitigate fears that the merger could impact on competition within the industry.

The proposed merger between Ladbrokes and Gala Coral would see the amalgamation become the UK’s biggest bookmaker. 

All eyes now turn to see how the market reacts and, in particular, whether William Hill responds to merger offers from 888 or Rank.

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at August 2016. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.


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