South Tyneside Council bosses to back new gambling policy

Fixed odds machines will be covered by the new gambling licence strategy
Fixed odds machines will be covered by the new gambling licence strategy

Council bosses in South Tyneside are aiming to update the way gambling licences are decided on in the borough.

New measures involve making public health and gambling-related issues key factors in licencing decision and making contact numbers available for people to report under-age betting.

Currently, councils have to refer to government policies aimed at preventing gambling becoming a source of crime, ensuring its fairness and protecting vulnerable people and children from harm.

This week, South Tyneside Council’s cabinet will discuss a new ‘statement of principles’ under the Gambling Act – a document required to be updated every three years.

The statement will cover a range of premises - including bingo halls, betting shops, amusement centres and pubs and clubs where gaming machines are installed.

It is designed to help council officers and councillors apply the law fairly - while helping existing and new gambling premises to understand rules and regulations.

It promotes every application being decided on its own merits and prompts applicants to address any risks to licensing objectives their premises may pose.

A report, due to be presented to South Tyneside Council’s cabinet on Thursday, January 3, outlines key changes to the policy for 2019 -2022.

This includes a focus on public health and gambling-related harm and providing contact numbers to report concerns about the exploitation of children.

South Tyneside Safeguarding Children Board will also provide advice to help reduce impact on young people.

Council officers, in their report, state that changes to the gambling statement are not expected to have any impact on income from licence fees.

The report adds: “Review and, where necessary, revision of the statement ensures that it remains up to date and reduces the likelihood of applications being contested and negates the risk of any successful challenge to decisions.”

A consultation on the new statement took place between July 23 and September 30 - a process which received seven responses.

The updated policy also covers national changes to fixed odds betting terminals which, subject to parliamentary approval, will see maximum stakes reduced from £100 to £2 from April 2019.

If approved by cabinet, the policy is expected to get the final rubber stamp from full council.

The cabinet meeting takes place at South Shields Town Hall on Thurday at 4pm.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service