London council revokes pub gaming licence for underage play

27 November 2019

Redbridge London Borough Council has become the UK’s first local authority to revoke a pub’s gaming machine licence, after finding that The George Public House, a branch of JD Wetherspoon, repeatedly failed to stop children playing the terminals.

The decision follows two operations, in January and July of 2019, in which police cadets aged under 16 entered the pub and spent £3 on the machines without being asked for proof of age by staff who were nearby, while plain-clothed police officers witnessed the event. Customers must be 18 to play the machines.

The George Public House previously had the right to host up to seven Category C gaming machines, which cost £1 per play and have a maximum payout of £100. Under the council’s ruling, it will lose the right to the five machines for which it needed to apply for a licence.

However, the council’s licensing subcommittee allowed the pub to keep its automatic right to operate two betting terminals, after it was given assurances that the venue would implement technology to alert staff when machines are being used, along with measures to protect children.

Sue Harper, the council’s Corporate Director for Place, said the council takes the issue of underage gambling extremely seriously.

“Businesses with permits to operate betting machines have a legal obligation to protect children and other vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling,” Harper said.

“At Redbridge, we put the welfare of our children at the heart of everything we do and won’t be afraid to use the full weight of the law against businesses in the borough that fail in their legal obligations to safeguard young people.”