Agenda item

Gambling Harms

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Elections and Regulatory which supports discussions on the document “10 questions to ask if you are scrutinising gambling harm” published by the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny, in conjunction with the Gambling Commission. Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing and Communities) has requested a response to the document from the Licensing Authority and the report presents a briefing note which collates all of the current work being undertaken across the council on this matter.



The Chief Officer Elections and Regulatory submitted a report to support discussions on the document “10 questions to ask if you are scrutinising gambling harm” published by the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny, in conjunction with the Gambling Commission.


The report outlined a request from the Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing and Communities) for information on how Leeds City Council (LCC) approaches gambling harm in the city, based on the ten questions. A briefing note which collated all of the current work being undertaken across the Financial Inclusion, Public Health and Entertainment Licensing Teams within the council on this issue was included within the report for the Committee’s consideration.


The following were in attendance for this item:

-  Nicola Raper – Section Head, Entertainment Licensing

-  Grace Lawrenson - Senior Policy Development Officer, Financial Inclusion Team, Communities, Housing & Environment

-  Jo Rowlands - Financial Inclusion Manager, Communities, Housing & Environment.

Members noted apologies from Myrte Elbers, Advanced Health Improvement Specialist, Healthy Living & Health Improvement Team (Drugs, Alcohol, Tobacco and Gambling) Adults & Health.


The Section Head, Entertainment Licensing, presented the report and highlighted that as part of the application process to award a Large Casino premises licence in Leeds, the successful applicant offered a range of measures to reduce the risk of harm from gambling, one of which was to provide an annual sum of money to LCC Social Inclusion Fund. A proportion of the Fund is used on projects to address any negative impacts which may arise from the Large Casino, including mitigating gambling harms, additionally funding had been used in 2016 to commission Leeds Beckett University research to establish a baseline of gambling harm in the area before the casino opened.


In respect of the ten questions posed, the following were highlighted:


Question 4: How does the council, and its partners, raise awareness of gambling harm in the community? Following on from the research undertaken in 2016 the Financial Inclusion and Public Health teams established the Leeds Gambling Harms Group to consider how best to implement change to mitigate gambling harms. The group includes officers from all relevant part of the council, external partners including Citizens Advice, GamCare, and the city’s universities.


Question 5: How does the council tackle gambling harm through its licensing policy? The Licensing Authority has responsibility for the grant of Gambling Premises Licences and the Leeds Statement of Gambling Policy now includes harm mitigation measures, and applicants must undertake a local area risk assessment as part of their application submission. All Leeds postcodes are included in a mapping tool devised to identify the cumulative impact of gambling premises, anti-social behaviour and vulnerable adults and children to support the Authority’s consideration of applications.


The Senior Policy Development Officer, Financial Inclusion Team, provided an overview of the projects undertaken in conjunction with Public Health, building on the 2016 research which identified Leeds as being likely to have problem gambling rates at double the national average research and sought to identify groups considered vulnerable to or at higher risk of problem gambling.


The following information was noted:

·  Co-location of services and partnership working with GamCare’s Leeds Community Gambling Service and the NHS Northern Gambling Service and working with people with lived experience of gambling harms was fundamental to the support offer.


·  The current communications campaign to coincide with the football World Cup 2022 provided information on the treatment available in Leeds.


·  Learning was taken from the best practice of other local authorities, such as Sheffield where the Human Resources service produced a document to support their employees who may be impacted by gambling harms. Leeds had adopted a similar document and plans to promote its adoption through the Anchors Network and the city’s major employers and encourage other organisations to adopt their own.


Discussions focussed on the following matters:

Victoria Gate Casino. An investigation undertaken by the Gambling Commission (GC) in July 2019 led to the identification of failings in respect of its social responsibility and anti-money laundering responsibilities, resulting in a regulatory settlement and the publication of a statement detailing the outcome in October 2021. Members noted that the Executive Member for Resources had written to the Gambling Commission after the Licensing Authority had been made aware through an alternative source. It was agreed that the correspondence to and from the GC would be shared with Committee Members.


Leeds problem gambling rate. Research in this field is very limited, and the complexity/demographic of Leeds could be the reason behind Leeds’ higher rate. The rate had not been remeasured since 2016. The research data could not be used to limit the number of licences in the city or inform consideration of gambling licence applications city wide. The Gambling Act 2005 is a permissive Act and limits what actions a local Licensing Authority can take, so each application must be dealt with on a case by case basis with data specific to that application. An application received for a proposed premises in Harehills was referenced, where the data within the matrix of deprivation was considered and supported the inclusion of additional operating conditions on the premises licence.


On-line Gambling – This falls outside the remit of the local Licensing Authority, although the LA continues to lobby Government and the services now established support anyone suffering from gambling harms linked to on-line gambling, casino, betting shop or amusement arcade based gambling. It was reported that 86% of gross gambling profit is from on-line betting, and £1.5 bn has spent on advertising on-line gambling.


In conclusion, Members thanked officers for their presentation and the partnership work undertaken to address gambling harms.


RESOLVED – That the information contained in the Briefing Note and the contents of the discussions held at the meeting be noted.


Supporting documents: