UK Pub Becomes First To Lose Gaming Licence

A pub in the UK became the first to lose its gaming licence after it failed to stop the use of games for children.

The Redbridge Council, Redbridge’s local authority in Greater London, England, said it had become the country’s first local authority to strip a pub of its gaming machine licence after it consistently failed to stop kids from playing on them, reports The Telegraph.

Monday, the licencing committee of the council voted to revoke the licence of The George pub, a branch of J D Wetherspoon, after two test buying operations conducted by the borough’s licencing enforcement team and the police.

Police cadets under the age of 16 visited the pub under the joint operations which took place in January and June this year and were able to use two unchallenged betting terminals. Despite nearby staff, the cadets could spend £ 3 on the machines on each occasion without being asked for proof of age. Two plain clothes police officers who had entered the pub in front of the cadets witnessed the entire episode.

The landmark decision means up to seven gaming machines have been lost to the pub on Wanstead High Street. Nevertheless, after the pub agreed to bring in software that alerts workers to machine use, the Licensing Sub-Committee allowed the pub to retain two fruit machines, the compulsory legal right.

Sue Harper, the council’s Corporate Director for Place, said: “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. We 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.”

Wetherspoon’s spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “The company takes its responsibility to comply with the law on all age prohibited products and services extremely seriously. We shall consider the council’s concerns carefully and ensure all necessary actions are taken at the pub to prevent any repeat.”