The fact that Glasgow City Council would not have the power to enforce new rules about the maximum stakes allowed at high-stake betting machines has been confirmed by a new report into the controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
Problem gambling has been one of the most-discussed issues in the sector, especially considering the fact that gambling addictions have sharply increased in certain parts of the country. As previously reported by Casino Guardian, Scotland, and the city of Glasgow in particular, have been considered one of the areas with the largest number of problem gamblers per capita.
According to a recent report, there are currently approximately 800 FOBTs hosted by 200 betting shops in Glasgow, with the city’s residents generating losses amounting to around £31 million on an annual basis on the machines. On the other hand, information released by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has shown that no inspections on local betting outlets have been held since before April 2012.
What is more, the Chief Executive Officer of the Glasgow City Council Annemarie O’Donnell shared in a document, which was received by the councillors yesterday, that there is actually no legal basis for the authority representatives to make sure that law enforcement procedures related to the gambling sector in Scotland are put into action. As explained by Ms. O’Donnell, the council believed that any enforcement actions are capable of a legal challenge, especially when it could make the local licensing board initiate a review of some betting premises license review.
Glasgow City Council Wants Statutory Enforcement Powers
As explained by the Council’s boss, the beginning of 2018 saw some consultations regarding a range of proposals associated with FOBTs and socials responsibility measures rolled out by the UK Government. The proposal for a reduction to the FOBT maximum stake allowed was backed by the Council at the time.
A few months ago, the UK Government revealed its resolution to slash the maximum amount that local players would be able to place as a bet on the machines, sharply reducing it from £100 to £2 only. However, it became clear that the implementation of the new rules for the FOBTs across the territory of the county could be delayed until 2020. This provoked anti-gambling campaigners to urge the Government to make sure that the crackdown is imposed on the controversial machines as soon as possible.
Under the Gambling Act of 2005, enforcement powers are given to authorised Scottish licensing authorities’ officers. For the time being, Glasgow’s licensing board is responsible for law enforcement, but it is a separate legal entity from the City Council, so it does not have officers who are authorised to enforce legislative rules.
Currently, the Glasgow City Council has joined forces with the main gambling regulatory body to highlight the necessity of some changes brought to the Gambling Act, under which local authorities would be granted with statutory enforcement powers.