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New measures to protect the most vulnerable from gambling in Westminster

Published: 9 November 2022

  • Westminster City Council will curb opening hours on new gambling premises
  • Cutting edge approach is the maximum that can be done under the existing legislation.
  • A balance will be struck between supporting gambling operators and protecting vulnerable residents

A new policy approach for gambling premises in Westminster will help reduce the risk of people who may be vulnerable to gambling related harm in the city, Westminster City Council has announced.

The council has published its ground-breaking new policy for gambling in Westminster, with a focus on protecting the most at risk, including children, from gambling harms. The new policy, which is the first of its kind in the  UK, is part of the local authority’s Fairer Westminster strategy and includes new opening hours, and the identification of gambling vulnerability zones. Using a more data driven approach, it will ensure gambling premises operate in a way that reduces their risk of harm and wider impact on the community.

The council supports businesses contributing to Westminster’s night-time economy, but premises must not become a source of crime and disorder or be used to support crime. If gambling premises fail to demonstrate that they will be consistent in protecting children or other vulnerable adults from gambling harm and operating in a fair and open way the Council could refuse to permit the application, under the new policy.

Westminster City Council now aim to strike a balance, appreciating that gambling premises play a key role in the city’s local economy whilst protecting the most vulnerable residents from harm.

Councillor Aicha Less, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Protection said:

Betting shops, casinos and other gambling premises play a role in Westminster’s night-time economy and some venues, attract thousands of tourists into the city every year.

However, during a cost-of-living crisis, people’s budgets are being stretched more and more so using gambling as an alternative source of income is a real danger.

We need rules to protect the most vulnerable from gambling-related harms and to prevent gambling being a source of crime and disorder. Our new policy aims to strike a balance, allowing gambling premises to operate fairly and responsibly, while also putting safeguards in place to protect resident and visitors.

An interactive map of the council’s Local Area Profile for gambling has been produced to highlight the groups who may be at heightened risk to gambling relate harm, vulnerable locations and current gambling premises within the City.

Read our new statement of principles for gambling