THE borough council is gearing up to deal with the licensing of gambling from next year.

The Gambling Act 2005 completely overhauls the law on commercial gambling in Britain, passing responsibility for its licensing from magistrates courts to the Gambling Commission and local councils.

In preparation for this, the borough has published a draft document, called a Statement of Principles, which outlines the factors that will be taken into account when dealing with applications for gambling licences.

The document is in draft at the moment and people's views on it are being invited.

The new law means that from next January the Gambling Commission will issue operating licences and personal licences, while the council will:

* Grant premises licences to operators like bingo halls, bookmakers, adult gaming centres and tracks

* Issue permits for activities like gaming machines

* Issue permits for more than two gaming machines in pubs and other premises licensed to sell alcohol

* Register small society lotteries

* Authorise the temporary use of premises for gambling.

In reaching decisions on applications the council must bear in mind the three licensing objectives in the Gambling Act, which are:

* Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime

* Making sure gambling is conducted in a fair and open way

* Protecting children and other vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

Copies of the draft statement of principles can be viewed on the council's website at www.ellesmereport-neston. and comments can be e-mailed to the council before October 5.

Alternatively, you can contact the council's licensing team on 0151 356 6416 to request a copy of the document and can write to them with any views or comments that you wish to make.