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Pub allows under 18s to use gambling machines and loses its permit

For the first time a British pub has been stripped of its permit to have gambling machines on its premises (Gambling Commission 16 December 2019). Redbridge Council carried out tests and found that a Wetherspoons pub was not preventing under 18s from using the machines. Wetherspoons intends to appeal the decision. If upheld this will encourage other local authorities to think of doing the same. Having gambling machines in pubs was always dangerous. It’s an example of ‘ambient gambling’ – offering gambling on premises which, unlike casinos, betting shops or amusement arcades, are not themselves gambling environments. It is more difficult to supervise gambling machines in those circumstances and ambient gambling has been criticised by committees and commissions over the years. As the harm associated with modern gambling becomes more and more apparent, should the anomaly of gambling machines in pubs be ended? Pub owners would resist such a move, no doubt arguing that it would hasten the closure of more pubs. But should the protection of children and young people from harm be the overriding consideration? Anyway, do gambling machines attract pub customers or put them off? Tell us what you think.

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