Gambling regulator denies council's northern staff claim

The council is looking at the effects of gambling on young and vulnerable people
The council is looking at the effects of gambling on young and vulnerable people

The regulator for bookmakers has disputed a claim by Wakefield Council that it only has one senior member of staff enforcing gambling laws in the whole of the north of England.

Licensing officer Dave Hollis suggested that it was difficult to check if betting companies in the district were following the rules, because the Gambling Commission employed just one "enforcement officer" to cover an area which spans 190 miles, north to south.

The claim was made during a debate about the council's gambling policy, and the effects of the practice on young and vulnerable people.

But the Gambling Commission says that it has nine "compliance managers" based in the north, out of a total of 31 working across Britain.

Speaking at a licensing committee meeting, Mr Hollis said that enforcement was also tricky because of companies taking punters' cash "aren't going to put their hand up if there's something wrong".

He added: "We do work closely with the Gambling Commission. We have an enforcement officer who is in touch with us, and is always very keen to work with us. She's very good.

"The trouble is her region goes from South Yorkshire all the way up to the Scottish borders.

"You've got one Gambling Commission enforcement officer for the north of England."

In response, a spokesman for the Gambling Commission said: "We have 31 compliance managers in England, Wales and Scotland.

"Although nine are based in the North of England all 31 work proactively and reactively across all regions to ensure gambling is fair, safe and crime-free."