The Gambling Commission frequently receives queries about the types of activities that can be carried out on gaming machines (fruit machines, slot machines) without the requirement for a licence. It is an offence under the Gambling Act 2005 to supply, install, adapt, maintain or repair a gaming machine (or part of a gaming machine) without the appropriate operating licence. However, operators who are licensed or have an appropriate permit (issued by a local licensing authority) to make a gaming machine available for use may carry out certain tasks in relation to the gaming machine, under limited circumstances, as explained below.
This information sets out the types of activity which we consider would not require a licence. This information does not constitute legal advice, nor does it set out our legal opinion. Where any doubt exists it is always recommended that you seek your own advice. It also covers activities which may only be carried out by those with a licence or permit to make a gaming machine available for use. If you do not have an appropriate permit or licence, you cannot legally carry out these activities.
Under the Gambling Act 2005 it is an offence to manufacture or supply a gaming machine (fruit machine, slot machine) or part of a gaming machine (including software) without the appropriate licence. 'Supply' in this context includes selling a gaming machine. This prohibition does not apply to parts of a gaming machine which do not affect game outcome (such as fuses, light bulbs and artwork) or part exchanging a machine with a licensed supplier.
Under the Gambling Act 2005 it is an offence to maintain or repair a gaming machine (fruit machine, slot machine) or part of a gaming machine (including software) without the appropriate licence. There are however certain maintenance and repair activities which may need to be carried out on a day-to-day basis, for which additional licences or permits are not required. These are activities which cannot affect the outcome of the game.
Such activities are likely to include, but are not limited to:
- changing the front display of the gaming machine (including glass or paper artwork but not software modifications for video display)
- changing display notices on the gaming machine
- cleaning the gaming machine
- clearing coin jams and emptying hoppers
- changing fuses/light bulbs
- moving the gaming machine to a new location within the licensed premises
- changing percentage, stake and/or prize settings provided this does not require any software modification.
Generally, where the installation is of a type which does not affect the outcome of the game, it may be carried out without a licence. For example, plugging in a network cable, or plugging a gaming machine into an electricity socket, would not require a licence.
The following activities however would require a licence:
- Installing components, either as part of a repair or maintenance schedule, which has an impact upon game outcome.
- Installing a retrofit component which impacts upon game outcome.
- Installing any external component, including that in relation to server-based systems, which impacts upon game outcome.
- Installing software code, security patches, game upgrades or new games.
Where a technician is required to carry out an installation task, they must be licensed appropriately.
All activities which adapt gaming machines require a licence, including:
- making changes which alter the category of machine (unless this involves only a simple switch or dongle change, or changing artwork)
- making modifications to machine security devices (other than external security devices such as locks or security snakes)
- modifying components, as part of a repair or maintenance schedule, which has an impact upon game outcome
- swapping out components that may affect the outcome of the game
- stake / prize changes
- changing percentage, stake and/or prize settings where software modification is required.
What if I need to do something that requires a licence?
If you already hold a full operating licence which allows you to provide facilities for gaming machines, you may apply for a linked gambling software or supplier licence which is cheaper than a full technical operating licence. This will allow you to supply, install, adapt, maintain or repair your own gaming machines. The cost of carrying out these activities must not exceed £50,000 per year (inclusive of all costs such as wages, parts and other expenses). If this amount is exceeded, a gaming machine technical operating licence will be required.
If you collect gaming machines as a private individual and you want to supply, repair, install or maintain a single machine, you will require a single machine permit. Single machine permits will only be issued in very limited circumstances, and not for commercial reasons. There are limits as to how many single machine permits we will grant to an individual.
If you do not hold a full operating licence and your circumstances mean that a single machine permit is not appropriate, you may choose to contract someone who is licensed to provide the necessary services. Before doing so you should ensure that they are appropriately licensed by us.
If you are considering applying for an operating licence, or if you have a query which is not answered here, you can contact us by telephoning 0121 230 6666 or submit your question online.
Page last updated: March 2013