This month in summary:

Licensing news

Previous editions of this bulletin have gone into significant detail about the impending deadline for personal licence renewals but still trade trainers and Licensing Boards are telling us that uptake is slow. So here are the headlines

  • If your personal licence was issued in September 2009 it expires 31 August 2019;
  • To avoid losing your licence you must renew it by end May 2019;
  • The second 5 year refresher is also due so we recommend you book to sit that course ASAP;
  • If you ignore the above your licence will expire and if you are the DPM your premises will have to stop selling alcohol!

In the wake of the Scottish Government’s refreshed Alcohol Framework 2018, alcohol and advertising has become a hot topic. The chair of Scottish Women’s Football appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Improving Scotland’s Health and advised that her organisation would not be accepting alcohol sponsorship as it is “incompatible with our role in promoting healthy lifestyles amongst girls and women and supporting them to make positive choices” This was welcomed by Alcohol Focus Scotland especially given the Scottish Government’s existing commitment to consult on restrictions on alcohol marketing. The full framework can be accessed here.

The Scottish Budget sees Parliament approve the tourist tax

Following a deal between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens the Transient Visitor Tax (or Tourist Tax) has been approved in principle. Legislation and implementation are still some time away. This will be an optional tax that Local Authorities have discretion over whether they implement it.

At present two Local Authorities have signalled an appetite for introducing the tax, they are the Highlands and Edinburgh. Early indications are that the latter favours a flat rate of £2 per room per night capped at seven nights.

The industry reaction has been mixed.

Gambling news

Gambling Commission announce that licence conditions and codes of practice are to be updated as at 7 May 2019

In late 2018 the Commission consulted on proposals to strengthen the requirements for remote gambling operators to verify the age and identity of their customers. As a result the undernoted changes will come into force on 07 May 2019 and all remote operators providing facilities for betting and gaming, and a small number of remote lotteries will need to update their policies and procedures.

Presently remote operators have been allowed 72 hours to verify the age of a new

customer. This period of grace is being removed. In addition age verification will be required prior to a customer being able to access freeto-play versions of games.

Changes to social responsibility code provisions will give effect to these changes requiring remote operators to verify the age of any customer before the customer can:

  • deposit funds into an account
  • access any free-to-play games the licensee may make available, or
  • gamble with the licensee with either their own money or a free bet or bonus.

Identity verification is also being beefed up by a new licence condition that requires operators to verify the identity of their customers before allowing them to gamble. As a minimum operators will require the customer’s name, address and date of birth.

Applicants are put on notice that the Commission has, forthwith, ceased to accept incomplete applications to vary Operating Licences

From the beginning of February 2019 the Commission have declared that it will not accept incomplete variation application. All applications must be in full without exceptions.

The Commission's website has been updated to make clear what constitutes a complete application and a new checklist will be available to help applicants be sure they are compliant.

Out and about

An unseasonably warm February makes traversing the four corners of the country to meet clients and argue their cases at hearing all the more pleasant.

This month our solicitors have had successes at the following Licensing Boards – North Ayrshire; West Lothian; Midlothian; Glasgow; Edinburgh. In addition, we have secured results before the Committee at Edinburgh.

Finally, our Head of Licensing Stephen McGowan, this month Chaired the inaugural Institute of Licensing AGM at Scone Palace in Perth and as President of the Benevolent Society presided over the BEN Dinner at the Doubletree Hilton in Glasgow.