UKGC calls for drastic improvements in pub under-age machine monitoring

Richard Watson – UKGC

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has sent a letter to a number of nation-wide pub and hospitality trade associations detailing its concerns that venues are not protecting under-age consumers from engaging with gaming machines.

Working with local licensing authorities, the UKGC has carried out tests on a sample of pubs within England, which indicate that ‘almost 90% failed to prevent children from accessing 18+ ‘Category-C’ gaming machines’.

The commission explains that pub staff, who are expected to stop any under 18 engagement with the machines, should display clear signage indicating age restrictions.

In its update, the Commission states that the average 89% failure-rate to prevent under-age engagements with pub machines is much higher than with other restricted products such as alcohol or tobacco (between 15-30%).

The Gambling Commission does not regulate gaming machines in pubs, which are permitted to site Category-C machines as part of its alcohol licence that is granted by their local Licensing Authorities (LA).

The letter is penned by UKGC Director of Enforcement Richard Watson, who underlines the commission’s key directive to protect UK children and Young people from engaging with gambling products.

Watson said: ‘The Commission, the Local Government Association and the Welsh Local Government Association are very concerned about the findings and the clear risks that they indicate to children and young people’s access to gambling. Further tests will be undertaken over the coming months.

“We urgently call the industry and their Trade Associations to take the results as a serious indication of the need to improve matters. We expect that the action taken will be reflected in significant improvements in future test results.”

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