Gambling machines in pubs are age restricted in the UK, and children under 18 are not permitted to use them. However, a study carried out by the Gambling Commission has shown that around 90% of pubs in England aren’t successfully managing to stop children from using them. The commission carried out tests on 61 different pubs in England. The results show that 89% of them were failing to stop underage use.
The results were described as “uniformly poor”. In addition, the results didn’t vary depending on the licensing authority used, or the type of premises; for example, larger pub chains and independent pubs had similar results. They also pointed out that these figures are a lot worse than failings across other age-restricted products like alcohol and tobacco, which tend to show 15-30% rates of failure
The commission went on to write, in a letter directed at the pub industry: “We urgently call the industry and their trade associations to take the results as a serious indication of the need to improve matters. We expect that the action taken will be reflected in significant improvements in future test results.”
Furthermore, programme director at the Gambling Commission, Helen Rhodes, said: “We are extremely concerned that pubs across England are failing to stop children playing gaming machines designed for adults.We urgently call on the pub sector to take action immediately to enforce the laws in place to protect children and young people. We expect to see significant improvement in further tests and will continue to work with licensing authorities to support any action required against those failing to adhere to the requirements.”
As part of the gambling regulations, children are not allowed to play on Category C gaming machines in pubs. This means all games with a minimum stake of £1 and payouts of a maximum £100. They are required to have clear signs, saying that the machines are age restricted. Also, staff have to stop children from using the machines when necessary.
Simon Blackburn, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “If these findings reflect the wider pub industry’s ability to ensure responsible oversight of adult-only gaming machines, that would be extremely concerning. It is vital our children and young people are kept safe and protected from the problems gambling can cause.”
He continued: “Pub managers must be as vigilant about under-age gambling as they are about under-age drinking. It is completely unacceptable to turn a blind eye to children playing gaming machines that are restricted to over-18s, which risks young people becoming addicted to gambling.”