Supplementary memorandum submitted by Business in Sport and Leisure
Thank you for your recent letter asking us to provide additional comments on our oral evidence to the Committee on 11 June. Business in Sport and Leisure would like to respond as follows:
1. How many of BISL's members contribute to the industry Trusteither individually or through their trade associations, and what is the average contribution per annum? Has BISL calculated how much this is per problem gambler?
The following members of Business in Sport and Leisure have made individual contributions to the Gambling Trust:
The sums contributed by each company are confidential to the company itself. As Business in Sport and Leisure is not a trade association, our work has concentrated on encouraging our members to contribute individually and through their trade associations and to establish a mechanism for the industry as a whole to contribute.
All members of Business in Sport and Leisure who operate facilities which include gambling have contributed to the Gambling Trust through their trade associations. The following Trade Associations have made contributions to the Gambling Trust:
BALPPA (Leisure Parks and Piers);
COA (smaller Casinos); and
The Gambling Industry Trust was only established at the beginning of the year, so as yet there is no average contribution per annum. This must also be seen in context that the Prevalence Study on problem gambling found that 0.6 per cent to 0.8 per cent of the population might be problem gamblers. No definitive figure has been established.
Many members of Business in Sport and Leisure have now and in the past made individual contributions to the work of GamCare and to Gordon House.
2. What does BISL consider will be the best way of collecting the voluntary levy from the industryyou mentioned the idea of collecting 1p a day from machines (BBPA's suggestion)
Business in Sport and Leisure believes that each trade association should come up with a formula for contributing to the Trust which is suitable for their sector. One solution which has the support of the British Beer and Pubs Association (BBPA) is that 1p per machine per day is collected by suppliers from the 70,000 machines currently in pubs. This would raise in excess of £185,000 per annum. The Trade Associates need to be left to work out the formula, because otherwise, there will be double counting as premises like bingo clubs contribute through bingo and through their machines. We understand that BACTA have worked out a solution which is based on the banding of the machine. It is early days and as BISL said in oral evidence, a good start has been made which the industry will build upon.
If contributions to a voluntary scheme are to be successful, it is essential that everyone contributes. BISL believes that as part of a "fit and proper" test which will be established by the Gambling Commission for a personal licence, the applicant should be required to join its peers in contributing to the trust. This will ensure that for example, companies who operate internet and interactive gambling, make their contribution and that new operators are aware of the necessity to make contributions from the very beginning.
3. Does BISL consider that Camelot ought to contribute to the industry trust?
BISL understands that Camelot has not contributed to the Gambling Trust, but that it does make contributions to GamCare. Business in Sport and Leisure made it clear in our response to the Gambling Review Body Report that we believed that there should be one regulator for the National Lottery and commercial gambling industry. BISL would like to see Camelot working with the rest of the industry and not separately.
4. What discussions has BISL had with DCMS on the subject of inconsistencies in licensing decisions made by Scottish local authorities? Has BISL made suggestions on the suitable form of guidance that should be provided to local authorities after deregulation?
BISL has not had formal discussions with DCMS on the subject of inconsistencies in licensing decisions made by Scottish local authorities for gambling, although it has discussed this issue on liquor licensing. Research among our members who operate premises with gambling in Scotland have revealed the following information:
the Glasgow Board has always taken a very different view on gambling to the extent of going against the advice of the Gambling Board on a number of issues, most recently on electronic roulette. Operators recently paid £140,000 to allow new games in five Casinos;
in Edinburgh, ten-pin bowling outlets are only allowed two gaming permits by the local authority. This means that they can have two AWP (current format with £25 prize), but no pushers and cranes with a 10p stake and £5 prize maximum.;
Edinburgh would only allow ten pin bowling centres to have more machines if they had a separate arcade with its own entrance, full height walls and no alcohol;
Edinburgh will not allow Part 3 Gaming Machines (club slot machines with £250 prize) in proprietary owned snooker clubs. In England the difference between proprietary owned and members clubs is not recognised. Both are regarded as clubs);
in Dundee, ten-pin bowling clubs are allowed only two AWPs, but an additional licence is granted for a pusher as they deem it to be a separate product;
in Aberdeen, ten-pin bowling clubs are allowed six AWPs, a pusher and a crane!
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) is meeting with DCMS and the Gaming Board on 28 June to discuss national guidance for local authorities with regard to applications for more than two Category C gaming machines in pubs. It is particularly important that unnecessary restriction are not placed on licensed premises to put ropes round machines, or lines on carpets.
In 1997, Business in Sport and Leisure published a paper on the way local authorities in England dealt with their responsibility for Public Entertainment Licences. A copy of this could be provided for the Committee if it was considered useful. As a result, DCMS have made it clear that they will publish national guidance for local authorities who will have responsibility for the new Premises Licence for liquor licensing. It is essential, in the view of members of Business in Sport and Leisure that strong national guidance is issued for local authorities who have control of the premises licence for gambling and that local authorities have to adhere to this guidance.
5. During our visit to Scotland, the issue of the cost of the licensing system to local authorities was raised. It appears that the administration costs are often greater than the money received in licence fees. Is BISL concerned that local authorities will struggle to cope with the new responsibility, let alone the thousands of applications that may result from the government rejection of the idea of "grandfather rights" for pubs and clubs?
Business in Sport and Leisure believes that any licence fee must cover the administrative costs for local authorities to operate in a fair, consistent and competent fashion. The system must however, be transparent. For too long local authorities have been allowed to set fees based on their views of the actual costs and it is then found that licence fees are used by the local authority to administer other services. BISL would like to see a new and transparent system introduced where any additional revenue is ring fenced for spending on public services, such as street cleaning near premises where gambling takes place.
One way of reducing the burden on local authorities when the new premises licence for gambling is introduced, is to allow Grandfather rights for premises, so they are able to keep their existing allocation of gaming facilities.
6. How does BISL counter the argument that children should not be allowed to play on AWPs as these machines look and play the same as other categories of gaming machines, and that the distinction made by the Government between AWPs and other machines is an artificial one? Does BISL consider that a child will not find a £5 prize an attractive enough inducement to play on the machine at length?
There are a number of issues to be considered when answering this question and Business in Sport and Leisure would like the following to be considered:
as Professor Peter Collins from Salford University made clear in his oral evidence, there is no proven link that children playing fruit machines as a leisure activity leads to problem gambling. The link best established by research is that problem gambling can be established if a member of the family is a problem gambler. At best, gambling is a harmless activity enjoyed by 89 per cent of the population who have gambling at least once a week (BISL Study by KPMG, May 2000). At worst gambling as an adult or as a child can lead to an addiction;
one of the problems acknowledged by the Gambling Review Body and by the Government in "A Safe Bet for Success" is that enforcement action to ensure that children do not gamble has in the past been patchy. Under changes proposed by the Government "Local licensing authorities and the Gambling Commission will both have a clear enforcement role. Operators who breach their obligations will face not just criminal sanctions, but an enlarged range of licensing penalties, including loss of licence where appropriate";
there is no current evidence that gambling on low payout fruit machines (10p stake, £5 prize) causes children to develop a problem with gambling and the Government has made it clear that a ban on children playing such machines would not be justified. BISL members have pointed out that many ten-pin bowling centres in both England and Wales have a mix of Category C (50p stake and £25 prize) and Category D (10p stake and £5 prize) machines. These areas work well through good management;
many people would argue that access to alcohol at an early age in France and in other continental countries introduces children to drinking modest amounts of alcohol at an early age and that these children therefore continue a modest consumption as adults. The same attitude has historically been made in this country with fruit machines. There is no evidence that allowing children access to the new amusement with prizes machines (10p stake, £5 prize) will lead them to chasing losses, or playing on the machines at length;
BISL members display notices on all machines with a £25 prize that they cannot be played by anyone under the age of 18. BISL believes and supports the Government's proposed safeguards in "A Safe Bet For Success" namely:
greater emphasis in partnerships with Local Education Authorities and organisations like GamCare on education and awareness programmes for children;
specific provisions in advertising codes of practice to prevent children being targeted;
incorporation into licensing provisions of existing voluntary codes of conduct, such as those aimed at preventing children accessing family arcades during school hours and making the code legally enforceable;
proximity to a school for example, to be relevant consideration in the determination by local authorities of an application for a premises licence;
issuing of formal codes of practice in relation to social responsibility by the Gambling Commission, which should become a part of the conditions of licences to operate.
7. How will BISL members be able prevent children from accessing gaming machines in licensed premises, without physical barriers?
Members of Business in Sport and Leisure believe that strong management, combined with a legal requirement to ensure that children do not access gaming machines in licensed premises, is the right way forward. A recent MORI poll found that 92 per cent of the public believe that "no under 18s to play" is already the law of the land, because of the signage in licensed premises. A licensee will have to control premises according to the law and if they fail to do so they will be open to sanctions. GamCare have made in clear that they see no benefit to be gained from physical barriers or designated areas.
BISL would be in favour of the regime which operates in Las Vegas, where operators face heavy fines if they are found providing gaming products to those under the age of 21 (18 in the UK)
As Business in Sport and Leisure discussed in oral evidence with the Select Committee, training for licensees is vital. The British Institute of Innkeeping which is the professional body for the licensed trade, offers qualification through the Level 2 National Certificate for Licensees (On Licence). I have discussed with BII the possibility of either extending this certificate to include training suitable for licensees operating gaming machines, or developing a new qualification. This work will be taken forward as soon as possible, in consultation with GamCare.
25 June 2002