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Bookies given strict licence conditions

Two high street betting shops which allowed a 15 year-old to gamble on a fixed odd betting terminal (FOBT) have had strict conditions placed on their licences by Hounslow Council.

Betfred in Brentford and Jenningsbet in Hounslow allowed an undercover police cadet to enter their shops and turned a blind eye to him betting on machines which have been described as the crack cocaine of gambling.

At Hounslow Council’s Licensing Panel hearing, both companies stated that this was the first licence review they have received from a local authority relating to underage sales.

Both bookies were caught allowing the teenager to use the FOBT twice during underage test purchases carried out by Hounslow’s licensing team. The test purchaser was only challenged when he approached the counter and asked for change.

After each test purchase, Betfred and Jenningsbet were made aware of the results and warned about the potential repercussions on their licences if more failures followed.

Betfred have more than 1,000 stores in the UK. Jenningsbet have more than 100 branches.

Allowing a child to enter a premises and allowing them to gamble are both offences.

The following conditions, proposed by the licensing team, were imposed by the Licensing Panel:

– FOBT’s to be relocated to an area easily visible to the counter staff

– Installation of 24-hour CCTV, with screens on the counter so staff can monitor footage

– CCTV to be stored for a minimum of 31 days and made available for inspection by council or police

– Posters in premises advertising the Challenge 25 age verification scheme

– Installation of a door chime to alert staff when customers enter and exit

– Magnetic locks on entrance doors and toilets, which are controlled by staff from the service counter

– Training on age verification to take place on induction and before staff work on the counter.

-Refresher training at intervals of no less than 12 months. Copy of training records (signed and dated by staff members) to be kept on the premises and made available for inspection

– Any changes of layout to be agreed in advance with the council and police

– Two members of staff on duty at all times.

Jenningsbet’s request to contest the number of staff on duty was rejected by the Licensing Panel.

Both companies have 21 days to appeal the decision at magistrates court. They will be re-tested once they have had introduce the new measures.

This month’s licensing review came about following an extensive undercover operation by the licensing team which saw them visit 22 betting shops across the borough.

Twelve bookmakers were warned after they were found to be breaking the law by allowing underage teens to gamble unchallenged.

Click here to read the full report.

Hounslow Council’s cabinet member for enforcement, Councillor Sue Sampson said: “Fixed Odds Betting Terminals aren’t toys. They’re known as the crack cocaine of gambling for a reason.

“Our licensing team has worked hard to protect our young people from these highly addictive machines by sending in teenagers undercover to see how bookies react.

“This is first time either Jenningsbet or Betfred have been called up before a licensing panel and the first time we have placed such strict restrictions on bookmakers.

“We hope this action sends a clear messages to other bookies in the borough. You could be the next to be on the receiving end of our licensing team’s next underage, undercover operation. ”

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