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Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Book review: Gambling for Local Authorities: Licensing, Planning and Regeneration

Book review: Gambling for Local Authorities: Licensing, Planning and Regeneration


Gambling for Local Authorities: Licensing, Planning and Regeneration; Philip Kolvin (ed.), Institute of Licensing, 2007, £49, ISBN 978-0-9555392-0-6

This publication follows on from Kolvin's excellent volume on the Licensing Act 2003 (Licensed Premises: Law and Practice) and will be warmly welcomed by licensing practitioners. Unlike the 2003 Act, which generated some half dozen volumes, this is the first book on the 2005 Act (aside, of course, from Paterson's Licensing Acts which is in a different price range). While the title defines the book as gambling for local authorities it will be of use to all of those called upon to work with the new legislation (although remote gambling is not covered). Indeed, while parts, such as the section on 'responsibilities of committee members' might be of particular interest to local authorities, they are also helpful to applicants; and the 'legality and enforceability of gambling contracts' section is probably of more interest to contract lawyers and operators than to local authorities.

The Gambling Act 2005, which comes into force on 1 September 2007, contains a new regulatory system for gambling in Great Britain (see (2007) 151 SJ 629, 18.05.07). It brings all forms of gambling (aside from the National Lottery and spread betting) into a unified structure under a new regulator, the Gambling Commission. The Act contains 362 sections and 18 schedules and has been accompanied by more than 40 consultation exercises. The secondary legislation is copious.

There is much to take in and assimilate - from detailed requirements for the technical specification of gaming machines to codes of practice to address problem gambling '“ while several research projects are underway on gambling prevalence and other matters.

However, as Kolvin puts it in his preface: 'The modest objective of this book is to provide a clear explanation of the law relating to the licensing and planning control of gambling clearly and succinctly, principally as it relates to local authorities'. Kolvin and his list of contributors, both academic and practitioner, achieve this objective admirably.

The book is split into two parts. Part I, which takes up three-quarters of the volume, deals with the Gambling Act. It starts with an excellent account of the framework of the new Act, describing and detailing the role of bodies such as the Gambling Commission and licensing authorities, as well as the new definitions of gambling and the licensing objectives.

Chapters follow on the three-pronged system of licences (operating, personal and premises) and conclude with enforcement, advertising and transition.

Part II of the book, 'Planning and Regeneration', contains some very useful material on planning issues. Regeneration is of particular topical interest in light of Gordon Brown's recent apparent abandonment of regional casinos and the expressed desire to look elsewhere for regeneration opportunities. However, this part of the book strays from Kolvin's statement in his preface that 'I have not set out to theorise, speculate or critique.'

This is especially true of Peter Collins' chapter on 'Harnessing casinos to regeneration in the UK'. Further, this chapter presents arguments that are far from universally accepted and pays little regard to the issue of social harm raised by Mark Griffiths in his foreword to the book. A chapter from someone like Jim Orford would have been welcome to balance the arguments.

The law is stated as at the end of 2006 when much of the secondary legislation was still in draft form. The authors have done a good job of including this where appropriate but no doubt a supplement will be produced once the regulations are published. A decision has been taken not to include the Act or any other material in the volume.

This is understandable to keep the book to a manageable size and as the material is easily accessible on the internet. It would have been useful though to have the Act at least reproduced in the book.

The chapters are ably written and well laid out. Its style makes for easy reading. The book provides a much needed route map through the twists and turns of the Act. It is a clear concise and timely addition to the literature which will be of great assistance to those needing to get to grips with the new regulatory system.

The only concern is some of the regeneration material which presents only one side of the argument. Aside from this caveat, Gambling for Local Authorities can be strongly recommended and is excellent value.