Crackdown targets under-age gambling

May 18, 2013


The ten premises – which included betting shops and arcades – were visited by Milton Keynes Council’s Regulatory Unit, working jointly with the Gaming Commission and 16-year-old volunteers.
Three premises fell foul of the law by allowing the volunteers to place bets. A further two allowed the under-age teens to enter and remain inside the premises without being approached and checked for their age or identification.
The tests followed licence inspections of all such gambling licensed premises in the borough earlier in the year, aimed at ensuring that appropriate procedures were in place. They are part of a rolling programme of test purchases on gaming premises ahead of the opening of Aspers Casino in Xscape later this year.
Karen Ford, head of the council’s Regulatory Unit, said: “This was a disappointing result for the businesses involved but they have all made a commitment to improve staff training and to implement measures such as self testing and the sharing of good practice.”
“We will continue to monitor these and others to ensure the safety of children and young persons in Milton Keynes.”
The programme aims to examine the operation of controls in place to prevent under-age gambling and therefore improve the protection given to children and young persons in Milton Keynes.
General manager of Aspers Milton Keynes casino Nigel Hartland said: “As a group we take our responsibilities to our local communities very seriously.”
Aspers operates a challenge 21 policy. Anyone who appears under the age of 21 is required to produce photographic ID in order to gain entry to the premises.
The operator donated £250,000 to Milton Keynes Council as part of its licence application, to be used in positive gambling and harm minimisation research.
Aspers also promotes responsible gambling through its Community Action for Responsible Gaming initiative that is already running in other UK cities where Aspers has a casino.
Mr Hartland said: “We look forward to building on this relationship and continuing to work closely with the council to ensure Aspers continues to be a positive contributor to the local community and Milton Keynes life.”
Children and young persons aged under 18 years of age are not permitted to enter a premises with a betting licence, they are not allowed to place a bet or to use a gaming machines.
Licensing officers visited all 37 premises in the borough with a gambling licence last year and as part of the visit their procedures and licensing conditions regarding under-18s were inspected. During December 2012 officers then carried out a further 13 checks on premises specifically advising on underage sales, 10 of which were then visited as part of this operation.
During this visit they were advised that we would follow up the visit with an underage volunteer test purchase.
The checks were carried out with the help of the Gambling Commission. Compliance manager Jim Reynolds said: "We were very pleased to provide support and expertise to our partners at Milton Keynes Council. Licensed gambling operators must have effective policies and procedures in place to prevent under-age gambling."
Ms Ford said: “With the recession affecting people’s income a quick fix, lottery or betting win can be an attractive way of resolving money worries.
"But gambling is a form of entertainment and should not be relied upon as a short cut to making money.”
Council acting director of public Muriel Scott added: “It is critical that we prevent young and vulnerable people from taking part in any type of activity where they may not be in the best position to make a proper, educated choice.
"In the worst case scenario, where such activity becomes habit and then addiction, this can have a catastrophic effect on someone’s health and well-being, as well as the people around them.”
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