Underage Gambling Warning Issued By The UK Gambling Commission
The UK Gambling Commission has issued a stern warning to gambling operators in the United Kingdom to improve their underage gambling prevention measures after startling results were revealed in tests conducted by the regulatory body as well as local authorities.
The UK Gambling Commission carried out the first tests at the end of June, under the control and supervision of the trained officers from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, at the Ascot Racecourse, one of the country’s most prestigious racetracks. Most of the on-course book makers failed the tests, with one even allowing a 16 year old to make bets and cash out winnings without asking for identification.
Mathew Hill, Director of the Gambling Commission, speaking at the release of the test results said in a statement: “This was a pretty poor result. Preventing under 18’s from gambling is one of the most basic obligations every bookmaker has, on or off the course”. He went on to condemn the gambling industry itself and issue a warning to operators by saying: “The industry must do better or operators are likely to find themselves facing formal sanctions”. The results of those tests and the consequent warning appeared to fall on deaf ears.
The new tests were carried out during August and of the 40 tests that were carried out in gambling centers, betting shops and bookmakers across the country, 20 test purchasers were allowed on the premises, to play on gambling machines and exit the premises without being asked for identification or a proof of age. Similar results were experienced during tests conducted at licensed family entertainment centers and bingo halls that have were once arcades.
The regulated licensees that did not have the wherewithal to confirm the age of the testers, before allowing them to play, have been issued with a warning by local authorities. If they fail to improve the current conditions, it could lead to formal regulatory actions being taken and many of the licensees have been instructed to submit plans to their local authority which will detail how to prevent any underage gambling.
Some licensees, in an effort to curb underage gambling in casinos and sports betting shops, have introduced new preventative measures, ones that include the re-organization of their CCTV cameras which will provide surveillance staff with a better view of entering players. They have also introduced physical barriers and security staff to age restricted areas as well as made plans to employ third party companies to conduct random test purchases on the premises.
As big a step as the licensees have taken in order to curb underage gambling, local authorities still issued a stern warning to the operators. Failure to deliver voluntary improvement or the failure to pass another test, will lead to a review of their operating license, their premise license and the subsequent suspension or revocation of said licenses.
Among other test revelations, some of the bigger problems were those that the gambling commission encountered during 2013 and were still apparent in a number of gaming venues throughout the United Kingdom. Some staff, it appeared, were completely unaware of the presence of the underage gamblers, being preoccupied with other duties or not paying attention to the players on the premises. Some staff were even unwilling to challenge the tester, allowing him free reign within an area he was not allowed.
After the results of the test were published, the UK Gambling Commission has been forced to take them into account during the commission’s consultation on the strengthening of its License Conditions and Codes of Practice, which began on the 7th of August and it set to continue till the end of the month.
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