The Gambling Commission (GC) has produced their annual analysis of the returns provided to them by licensing authorities across the United Kingdom.

A copy of the report can be accessed here.

All of the 380 local authorities submitted a return to the GC.

The headline figures are as follows:

  • The number of active gambling licensed premises has fallen in the last year from 11,897 to 11,561
  • The number of licensed betting office premises has fallen from a high of 9,128 at 31 March 2012 to 9,021 as at 31 March 2014
  • The number of licensed premises inspected (exc. premises inspected for test purchases) was 3,895 (up from 3,226 the previous year)
  • 71% of the visits were made to betting office premises, marginally higher than the previous year
  • The total number of test purchase inspections was up from 98 in 2013 to 195 as 31 March 2014 (the report does not disclose the pass rate of these test purchases)
  • 78% (152) of these test purchases were made in betting offices
  • 1/3 of all local authorities who completed a return reported nil inspections to gambling licensed premises

What comments or conclusions can open draw from the report?:

  • The overall number of licensed premises, and in particular licensed betting offices, has fallen marginally in the last year
  • Local authorities continue to focus what gambling compliance efforts they make on the betting office sector both in terms of visits and test purchases
  • Notwithstanding this, one could infer that given  the relatively low number of betting offices visited (less than 1/3 of the total) combined with the fact that less than 2% were the subject of test purchases that these premises do not cause the compliance issues to local authorities that one might otherwise be led to believe
  • Where 1/3 of the authorities have not carried out any visits whatsoever to gambling licensed premises, operators may legitimately ask what value they receive in return for paying their licence fee. Conversely one might also reasonably infer that gambling licensed premises are not a drain on the resource of local authorities and as such the local regulator may take the view that it is not necessary to visit these premises.