Gambling establishments – safeguarding advice for premises

The Gambling Act 2005 promotes safer practice at premises where gambling activities take place.

Under this legislation, licensees and their operators have a legal responsibility to ‘protect children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling’.

The regulations offer a range of opportunities to operators and communities, to develop and expand their leisure and entertainment facilities for gambling.

The Gambling Commission and licensing authorities work in partnership through shared regulation of gambling premises and are using the findings and evidence generated through a developing public health model to build on existing tool-kits for gambling, using an evidence-based approach.  Considerable progress has already been made in developing this work and details can be found in the toolkit on the Gambling Commission website at www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/Licensing-authority-toolkit/Reducing-Gambling-Harms-resources

Also see our resource Gambling – advice for young people.

More information about the signs of problem gambling can be found on the Gambleaware and Gamcare websites. They also provide general information about gambling, including how to gamble safely and where to get help if someone has problems with their gambling.

Anyone can call the national gambling helpline free of charge on 0808 8020 133 (open 8am – midnight, 7 days a week).

Safeguarding vulnerable adults

The Gambling Commission puts a high priority on the social responsibilities operators have to protect vulnerable adults from the harm associated with gambling; and policies must be in place to support the protection of vulnerable adults.

Who is a vulnerable adult?
Adults may be vulnerable if, for example, they are taking certain types of prescribed medication which may impair their judgement or prevent them making informed, balanced decisions about gambling; or if they are intoxicated from misusing drugs or alcohol.

If an adult has mental health issues, a mental impairment or problems with addiction, they may also be vulnerable as they may have difficulty controlling their activities or behaviour, or understanding the players’ guides to games.

What are the risks to vulnerable adults?
If vulnerable adults are not supported within the gambling environment they may be at risk of:

  • gambling beyond their financial means
  • problems with addiction
  • financial exploitation
  • causing, or being a victim of dangerous, abusive or threatening behaviour
  • physical, emotional or accidental harm.

These difficulties may have a serious impact upon the person’s relationships, home life or employment.

Managing the risks and being socially responsible
Premises should:

  • Designate a member of staff to lead on problem gambling issues.
  • Train staff on how to recognise and respond to indicators of concern.
  • Train staff to know how to protect their own safety if customers behave aggressively.
  • Make information and advice about gambling responsibly generally and discretely available, and provide contact details about where to get help.
  • Offer a self-exclusion, or self limit scheme, enabling individuals to restrict the amount of time or money they spend.
  • Operate a membership scheme so that they have contact details for a person in case of emergency.
  • Allow a cooling-off period for customers signing up to credit arrangements.

Safeguarding children

What are the risks to children?
The risks will vary, depending on the type of gambling activities taking place at the premises. For example, at adult gaming centres or casinos, safeguarding systems should be in place to prevent young people gaining access to the premises.

If children are permitted access to adult gambling activities, they may be at risk of being:

  • exposed to information or advertisements encouraging them to gamble
  • allowed, or invited to, gamble or bet in a commercial setting
  • allowed to purchase and consume alcohol
  • financially exploited.

They may also witness, or be involved in, substance misuse, other criminal activity, or dangerous or threatening behaviour.

Managing the risks
To prevent children and young people accessing adult gambling activities, stringent safeguarding measures should be in place, such as:

  • the Challenge 25 scheme operated by all door and bar staff and only recognised proof of age accepted (for example photo driving licence or passport; PASS cards)
  • all points of entry monitored by security staff/CCTV
  • signage prominently displayed at all points of entry regarding the prohibition of under 18’s
  • signage displayed on machines highlighting age restrictions
  • signage prominently displayed in bar areas regarding the law and the sale of alcohol
  • operating a membership scheme
  • all staff being trained to be vigilant and respond if a child gains illegal access to premises.

If a premises offers a range of gambling activities (for example a regional casino, a licensed family entertainment centre, bingo premises, or gaming machines in category C or above) premises must operate systems to ensure that under 18’s are prevented from accessing areas where adult activities (such as betting or high stakes gambling) take place; or where adult gaming machines are located.

The measures set out above should be used to help the public clearly identify from which areas children are prohibited.

If a premises offers a variety of activities, it may be necessary to operate the following systems:

  • designated family-friendly areas using physical barriers/cordons to segregate these from restricted areas
  • points of access/egress located for easy supervision by staff and regularly monitored
  • signage displayed to indicate access rules
  • signage to remind parents/adults of their responsibilities
  • use of bandit screens
  • use of the Challenge 25 scheme
  • assigning at least one member of staff as a ‘children’s safeguarding lead’.

Premises should ensure that the environment to which they allow children access is safe and suitable.

Action should be taken if adults demonstrate irresponsible behaviour, such as showing signs of intoxication, using strong or offensive language, threatening behaviour, or violence towards others or towards machinery.

Adults accompanying children should be encouraged to supervise them, to minimise the risk of children being exposed to inappropriate or dangerous behaviour or gaining access to prohibited areas of the premises.

The employment of children and young people
The Gambling Act 2005 does not prohibit the employment of children and young people at some premises.

However, it does restrict the type of tasks and areas to which children and young people may have access and it is important that premises comply with these restrictions, as failure to do so may result in committing an offence; for example, it is an offence to employ children and young people to provide facilities for gambling, or to perform a function in relation to a gaming machine, at any time.

Children should not be exposed to gambling as they carry out their employment functions.

Useful contacts & websites –  help with gambling in Manchester

Manchester City Council – information regarding licensing can be found on their website at www.manchester.gov.uk

The Beacon Counselling Trust, in partnership with Gamcare, deliver a free gambling support service for individuals and families affected by problem gambling in the Greater Manchester area – find out more on their website at beaconcounsellingtrust.co.uk

This service includes a national telephone helpline and other support services including live chat rooms and forums and following assessment; face to face engagement i.e. one to one counselling; couple counselling; and group counselling; along with a number of advice and guidance platforms including debt management and social support.

GamCare is a national charity that provides information, advice, support and free counselling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling -contact them on tele: 0808 8020 133 or  on their website at www.gamcare.org.uk

BeGambleAware – ring the National Gambling Helpline Freephone on 0808 8020 133 (8am-midnight 7 days a week) or contact via their website at www.begambleaware.org

The Gambling Commission – telephone the Commission on 0121 230 6666 or visit their website at www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk

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