‘Concerning’ number of pubs let children gamble

Just 10% pubs in the UK actively prevent children from gambling on their premises, according to a new report from the Gambling Commission.

Children are not permitted to play Category C gaming machines1 in pubs.

But an investigation carried out by the government watchdog the Gambling Commission found that 89% of pubs were failing to stop under-aged children from using the machines.

The figure outstrips the 15-30% rate of failure seen in other industries selling age-restricted products such as alcohol or tobacco.

“We are extremely concerned that pubs across England are failing to stop children playing gaming machines designed for adults,” Helen Rhodes, Programme Director at the Gambling Commission, said.

“We urgently call on the pub sector to take action immediately to enforce the laws in place to protect children and young people.

“We expect to see significant improvement in further tests and will continue to work with licensing authorities to support any action required against those failing to adhere to the requirements.”

Both UK Hospitality and the British Beer and Pub Association have said their senior staff are “seeking urgent meetings” with the Commission to address the issue.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said the industry body is taking the report “very seriously.”

“We have ensured that all of our members are aware of both the BBPA’s and Gambling Commission’s codes of practice and we are already taking steps to develop a social charter for responsible gambling, for use by licensees and pub companies.”

“However given the importance of this issue we are seeking urgent meetings with the Gambling Commission and local authorities to ensure appropriate action is taken.”

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “Underage play on gaming machines in pubs is wholly unacceptable. Our members, and the wider pub sector, understand this and the issue is taken very seriously

“UKHospitality is already working with its members and other trade bodies to develop a social responsibility charter, with bespoke pub-specific messaging; highlighting responsible gaming and the prevention of underage play.

“We will also be writing to the Gambling Commission to seek a meeting at the earliest opportunity.”

The maximum bet on fixed-odds betting terminals is set to be cut from £100 to £2.

The cap was set to be enforced from October next year after it was confirmed by chancellor Philip Hammond in last month’s Autumn Statement, but it has now been brought forward to April after the government bowed to pressure from Conservative MPs.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) opposed the cap, and called on the government to allow for higher stakes on gaming machines in January, in a bid to combat declining beer sales.

It called for a “modest rise in stakes and prizes for pub machines”, shortly after the government announced it was likely to set a cap on gambling machines.

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