UK pub operator JD Wetherspoon has been stripped of its licence to operate up to seven Category C gaming machines at its venue in Wanstead, London, under local authority licensing powers.
The licence revocation by Redbridge Council is a first for a local authority in the United Kingdom and follows repeated failures to prevent children from gambling at the Wanstead branch of JD Wetherspoon.
Redbridge Council conducted two test purchase operations this year using police cadets under the age of 16. The cadets were allowed to enter the pub and gamble unchallenged, despite the close presence of pub staff, and the gambling activity was witnessed by plain clothes police officers who were positioned in the venue.
“Businesses with permits to operate betting machines have a legal obligation to protect children and other vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling,” said Sue Harper of Redbridge Council.
“At Redbridge, we put the welfare of our children at the heart of everything we do and won’t be afraid to use the full weight of the law against businesses in the borough that fail in their legal obligations to safeguard young people.”
The venue has lost its right to operate up to seven Category C machines with £1 stakes and £100 maximum payouts, but retains its legal right to operate up to two betting terminals after promising to bring in pressure mats to alert staff to machine use, alongside new measures to protect children.