Patrick Browne is a Local Authority Partnership Specialist at the Gambling Commission.
There are few issues that have consistently been higher up the agenda of politicians and local elected representatives over the last few years than gambling and the protection of vulnerable groups and young people from gambling-related harm.
The Gambling Commission has previously acknowledged the particular challenges faced by licensing authorities in Scotland in regulating gambling given the different status of Licensing Boards as semi-autonomous bodies in their own right and from not directly employing their own staff.
That’s why this week the Commission published an updated note on “The Role of Authorised Persons in Scotland, to assist Licensing Boards and councils in Scotland understand how they can better deliver effective gambling regulation within their local communities.
The Commission’s note highlights that whilst Licensing Boards in Scotland might not have their own dedicated gambling compliance staff, they can draw on the wider staffing resource available to local councils in delivering their statutory obligations. Indeed, a number of Boards work with council officers already using the Gambling Act in Scotland to deliver gambling inspections and compliance activities.
The Commission’s note makes clear that other local authority officers are already authorised under the Gambling Act to undertake gambling enforcement activities. Most notably this includes environmental health officers who deliver statutory functions in relation to minimising or preventing the risk of pollution of the environment and harm to human health.
The Commission will be continuing its dialogue with licensing authorities and councils in Scotland around its latest advice note. The Commission’s view is that Licensing Boards in Scotland can effectively act now, with the support of authorised staff drawn from local councils, funded by regular annual gambling fee income and with their existing powers under the Gambling Act, to better protect vulnerable groups and young people from the risk of gambling-related harm.