Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Memorandum submitted by Casino Operators’ Asso ciation of the United Kingdom ( COA (UK) ) (PR 67)

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Introduction to the Casino Operators’ Association of the United Kingdom – COA ( UK ).

The COA (UK) represents the views and aspirations of independent, operator-owned casinos throughout the UK . Formed in 2001 to offer a different forum from that dominated by the short-term, share price driven concerns of plcs , this Association promotes a gaming regime that is focussed , realistic and responsible, both socially and financially. While welcoming modernisation , the COA (UK) believes that the unique qualities of British casino gaming requires the long experience of independent owners who still make a powerful contribution to the industry in the 21st Century. T he COA (UK) as is dedicated to growing an industry that sustains its current reputation with style, control and probity, utilising the best that other jurisdictions may offer, but re taining the best of British too.

Submission from the COA (UK) re: extending Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMRO) so they can be applied flexibly between midnight and 6am and proposed Late Night Levy (LNL).

1) Casinos are primarily licensed under The Gambling Act 2005 and are strictly regulated by The Gambling Commission. Casinos are also licensed under the Licensing Act 2003 to permit the supply of alcohol which is ancillary to the main activity of gaming. A recent analysis of one casino showed that over 95% of income was from gaming. This is typical of most casinos and shows consumption of alcohol is an "add on activity" often supplied with a restaurant or bar meal.

2) The Gambling Act 2005 sets out the default hours of operation between mid day and 6am with some casinos permitted to operate for 24 hours each day. Casinos must provide facilities for non gambling activities and at least 10% of the gaming area must be set aside for recreational purposes. A typical casino has very high levels of staff/customer ratios and The Gambling Commission imposes strict rules about how all casinos premises are supervised.

3) Gambling Commission licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) require all casinos to have rigorous entry controls to ensure those who appear intoxicated are denied entry. Any misbehavior or drunkenness is quickly dealt with as it can disrupt the fair and proper conduct of gaming. Any bad conduct will result in a customer being asked to leave and barred from the casino.

4) Many town centre casinos located near discos, bars etc have a problem because of the way police statistics are compiled. For example, because a casino might be seen as a place to extend drinking hours, any resulting disorder (where for instance a person is refused admission) can result in police action and a "black mark" against the casino. It is appreciated that the police have an extremely difficult job often dealing with multiple incidents, but some mechanism to link the offender and where the alcohol was consumed might help decide which premises to target for enforcement.

5) This Association stresses that casinos open late hours because their primary purpose is to provide facilities other than the sale of alcohol. It is unjust therefore that casinos may be caught by an EMRO which should be aimed at premises where the supply of alcohol is the primary or exclusive purpose of the premises being open for business.

6) Casinos operate in most major towns and cities. In a situation where one licensing authority imposes an EMRO but an adjoining one does not it would ensue that in one area a casino will be open for gaming but not able to supply alcohol, whilst nearby another casino will be able to operate as at present. Even small casinos attract customers from other than the immediate locality. Customers will quickly realise what has happened and move their business from one to another. This will destabilise the casino market place and at the same time encourage unnecessary vehicle movement from one area to another.

7) Far better that all casinos were exempt from the legislation. It should not be left to the whim of a licensing authority to include or exclude casinos from an EMRO. It should be prescribed within the legislation. It would be easy for the legislation to describe casinos as exempt as a definition of a casino already exists within s7 Gambling Act 2005

8) Most casinos fall into ratable value band E and would be subject to a late night levy at a high rate. Clearly casinos do not give rise to the problems of alcohol related crime, disorder and nuisance that the levy seeks to penalise. Indeed casinos are already heavily taxed by the treasury in the form of gaming duty and contribute huge sums to fund social responsibility projects.

9) If a levy is introduced then it should apply to all licensed premises including off-licenses and supermarkets given the clear link between cheap alcohol and excessive consumption. A typical night out for a group will include disproportionate consumption of cheap alcohol in the early evening (front loading) followed by top ups of the much more expensive drinks at entertainment venues later in the night. The late night venues are therefore frequently bearing the brunt of alcohol purchased cheaply from supermarkets and consumed at home and yet those seem to be allowed to carry on marketing alcohol as a ‘loss-leader’ with impunity. This Association feels that the banning of cheap supermarket alcohol should be seen as a priority if alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour problems are truly to be addressed.

January 2011