18 June 2014

Council test purchasing reveals high failure rate

An operation carried out by Brighton & Hove City Council's licensing officers to test for underage gambling found that most establishments failed.

A report to the Licensing Committee on 26 June reveals how council officers carried out an underage gambling test purchasing exercise on a sample of seven small to medium-sized establishments using a 16 year old boy. Only one, The Gaming Centre in Boundary Road, Hove, passed the test and challenged the young person on entry.

Officers, assisted by the Gambling Commission, visited two betting shops and five amusement arcades in the city. After they had assessed that the premises was safe the young person went in, walked around and played a machine for about 10 minutes.

Councilllor Stephanie Powell, chair of the city's licensing committee, said: “It is shocking that there is such a high failure rate and proves how valuable the work of the council and the Gambling Commission is in highlighting the problem to licensed operators.

“With gaming machines on the increase and the real concerns about fixed odds betting terminals where people can lose a lot of money very quickly, it is more important than ever that we take steps to protect young people. The council will continue to be vigilant, carry out test purchases and take enforcement action if necessary.”

The premises that failed the test purchase were Connaught Leisure, 46 George Street, Hove; Metrobet Bookmakers, 56 Boundary Road, Hove; Bridge Bookmakers, 75 St James's Street, Brighton; Nobles Amusements, 126-127 St James's Street; Regency Arcade, 63-64 West Street, Brighton and Silverstreak Ltd., 97 St James's Street.

All the premises have responded to the council's findings and all have issued a commitment to improve their policies and procedures. This includes training, 'blocking' machines when idle so that customers have to approach staff before playing and introducing self-testing and checking. Licensing officers will also be re-testing all the premises in the near future.

A national test purchase operation carried out by the Gambling Commission in 2009 saw a 98% failure rate amongst larger operators. Since then larger establishments have introduced measures to combat underage gambling.

Further information


Read the reports going before the Licensing Committee