Anger over teen gamblers

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Licensing chiefs today told of their disappointment after a town hall sting caught out arcades and bookmakers allowing under-age teenagers to gamble.

Thirteen venues across the town, from Promenade arcades to bookmaker chains, were visited by a 16-year-old volunteer.

And 10 of the premises allowed the youngster to play on machines without any checks.

Council bosses today called the results “completely unacceptable” and said the venues which failed will be summoned to meet with licensing officers.

The Gambling Commission, which has concerns that many small and independent gambling businesses are failing to monitor their own underage gambling controls, were in attendance to support Blackpool Council during the operation.

The findings, described as “alarming” by the council, mean the venues will now be summoned to meet with licensing officers to explain their failings.

That means the council is not yet naming the premises which failed the tests until officers have discussed with each of them why the failure happened.

Coun Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member responsible for public protection, said: “It is completely unacceptable premises are failing to carry out the most basic of tasks.

“It is horrifying to think how many young people are accessing these places on a daily basis.

“Gambling does cause harm to some people and it is the responsibility of each establishment to ensure they are operating within the law and not putting children at risk.

“This is a fundamental part of the contract between society and gambling businesses.

“In a number of cases premises are failing for the second time and we will be looking to review their licence.

“We are happy to offer any businesses in the town advice on checking ID to ensure they don’t fall foul of the rules but continued failures will not be tolerated.”

In more than half of tests conducted across England and Wales by other local authorities working with the Gambling Commission, young people were able to access gaming machines without any challenge being made.

Those tests were conducted on independent gambling businesses that were not adequately monitoring their own underage gambling controls.

All licensees are required to have policies designed to prevent under-age gambling.

The British Amusements and Catering Trades Association (BACTA), which is the gaming industry’s governing body, was unavailable for comment