17.1 Under the Act, licensing authorities in England and Wales have the role of issuing premises licences for casinos and monitoring those licences. In Scotland the licensing boards are licensing authorities and continue to have responsibilities for granting permissions for casinos in the form of premises licences.
17.2 New casino premises licences issued under the Act will fall into one of two categories namely large casino premises licence or small casino premises licence. These are subject to separate regulations, involving a two-stage application process, detailed below.
17.3 In addition, there is a third category of casino that is permitted through transitional arrangements under Schedule 18 of the Act, which may be referred to as 1968 Act converted casinos. Most of these casinos fall below the size thresholds of the other two categories. Such casinos may operate as card clubs without offering casino games.
17.4 The gaming machines permitted to be made available in new casinos are related to the number of gaming tables available for use (SI 2009/1970 The Gambling Act 2005 (Gaming Tables in Casinos) (Definitions) Regulations 2009):
17.5 The Commission has become aware that in some instances, operators who hold a combined non-remote casino licence and betting operating licence, have looked into converting part of their casino premises to betting premises. Licensing authorities are reminded that when considering such applications they must be satisfied that, if granted, the premises in question meets the relevant mandatory and default conditions for the relevant premises licence.
17.6 S.7(1) of the Act states that ‘a casino is an arrangement whereby people are given an opportunity to participate in one or more casino games’. Casino games are defined by the Act to mean a game of chance which is not equal chance gaming. Equal chance gaming is gaming which does not involve playing or staking against a bank, and where the chances are equally favourable to all participants. The Act gives the Commission power through conditions attached to operating licences to restrict the types of casino games that may be made available.
17.7 The Commission prescribes a list of games that may not be played (none at present).
17.8 The Casino Games Review Group (CGRG), set up by the casino trade body, publishes a list of all the casino games on offer, which outlines the basic rules of the most popular casino games: roulette, blackjack, punto banco, three card poker and dice. Player information on the specific rules and odds applied to these and any other table games by individual operators are displayed in each casino, as required by Social responsibility code 4.2.1 of the Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP).
17.9 Operators who are interested in running a trial of a new game, side bet or variation should contact the industry-led CGRG which has been set up to co-ordinate and monitor new games and determine their suitability for the market place. They will ensure that core rules and information is added to a dedicated website (www.ukcasinotablegames.info) for the information of other operators, the public and regulators.
17.10 No-one under the age of 18 is permitted to enter a casino and operators are required to display notices to this effect at all entrances to a casino. Social responsibility (SR) code 3.2.1(2) states that ‘licensees must ensure that their policies and procedures take account of the structure and layout of their gambling premises’ in order to prevent underage gambling. There must also be a door supervisor at every entrance to a casino to ensure that this restriction is enforced (SR 3.2.1(3)). Children and young persons are not allowed to be employed at premises with a casino premises licence. Licensing authorities are able to find information about the restrictions that apply in the LCCP.
17.11 Licensing authorities whose areas have been chosen for the new casinos should set out the principles they intend to apply when determining the ‘winner’ of a premises licence competition, in their statement of policy so that it is available to potential applicants before the authority invites applications for the available casino premises licences. The unsuccessful applicants must be informed of the result of the competition.
17.12 The Secretary of State has issued a code of practice about the procedure to be followed by licensing authorities in making determinations at both stage one and stage two, and also about the matters authorities are to take into account in making such determinations. The Act requires licensing authorities to comply with any code of practice issued by the Secretary of State.
17.13 Where an authority invites applications, those applications may be in the form of an application for a provisional statement as well as in the form of an application for the grant of a full casino premises licence. Where an application is made in the form of a provisional statement it is to be treated in the same way as an application for a casino premises licence and included in any two-stage determination process that the authority is required to carry out. If an application for a provisional statement is successful in that process, then it is not necessary for a further two-stage licensing process to be held when a casino premises licence application is eventually made by the operator to whom the statement has been issued.
17.14 As a first step in licensing a casino, the licensing authority will have to invite applications for any casino premises licences that it may issue. Regulations set out how the process of inviting applications is to be done (SI 2008/469: The Gambling (Inviting Competing Applications for Large and Small Casino Premises Licences) Regulations 2008).
17.15 It is possible that the number of applications that the relevant licensing authorities will receive will exceed the number of licences available. The Act lays down a framework for a two-stage process for considering applications in these circumstances.
17.16 As with all deliberations in premises licences, the authority should not confuse planning and building regulation considerations with the matter before it.
17.17 Authorities should think carefully before entering into any agreements or arrangements with potential casino operators which might be perceived to affect their ability to exercise their stage two functions objectively and without having prejudged any of the issues. If any such agreements or arrangements are entered into, it will be important that authorities are able to demonstrate (for example, through having obtained independent and impartial advice on the competing applications)that any decision they reach is objectively based and is not affected by the arrangements.
17.18 If more applications are received than the number of available licences, the authority must determine whether each application would be granted a licence if there were no limit on the number of licences that the authority could grant. Each application must be considered separately and no reference made to the other applications received.
17.19 During this process each of the other applicants will be considered an ‘interested party’ and may make representations. The consideration of representations should be the same as that for normal applications for premises licences, detailed in Part 7 of this guidance.
17.20 This process will result in one or more provisional decisions to grant a premises licence, which will be disclosed to the applicant and any party that made representations.
17.21 The provisional decision of the licensing authority at stage one may be appealed. Until any appeal has been determined, the licensing authority may not proceed to stage two.
17.22 The second stage of the process only applies where the number of applications which the licensing authority would provisionally grant under the stage one process exceeds the number of available casino premises licences.
17.23 Under the second stage of the process the authority has to decide between the competing applications and grant any available licences to those applications which in their opinion will result in the greatest benefit to its area.
17.24 There is no right of appeal against the grant or refusal at stage two although an applicant may seek judicial review of a licensing authority’s decision.
17.25 Where a licensing authority issues a provisional statement following a two-stage determination process, they may limit the period of time for which the statement has effect. This is so that the authority can control the period within which the full casino premises licence application has to be made. Under Schedule 9 to the Act the authority is allowed to extend the period for which the provisional statement has effect if the person to whom it is issued applies to have it extended.
17.26 S.166(1) of the Act states that a licensing authority may resolve not to issue casino premises licences.
17.27 The decision to pass such a resolution may only be taken by the authority as a whole and cannot be delegated to the licensing committee. In passing such a resolution the authority may take into account any principle or matter, not just the licensing objectives. Where a resolution is passed, it must be published by the authority in its statement of policy.
17.28 The resolution must apply to casino premises generally, so that the authority cannot limit its effect to geographic areas or categories of casinos. The resolution must specify the date it comes into effect. The authority may revoke the resolution by passing a counter-resolution (again the whole authority must pass that resolution). The resolution will lapse after three years so, should the licensing authority wish to keep the policy in place, they should pass a resolution every three years.
17.29 A resolution not to issue casino premises licences will only affect new casinos. It will not have any effect on casino premises licences issued before the resolution takes effect or on provisional statements issued before that date. Similarly a resolution will not affect the ability of existing casinos with preserved entitlements from the Gaming Act 1968 from continuing to operate as casinos.
17.30 Casino operators with licences granted under the Gaming Act 1968 were eligible to be granted a casino premises licence under ‘grandfathering’ arrangements. Additionally, special provisions apply to enable these operators to relocate premises by way of a variation to a converted casino premises licence providing those premises are wholly or partly situated in the area of the licensing authority which issued the licence (SI 2006/3272: The Gambling Act 2005 (Commencement No. 6 and Transitional Provisions) Order 2006; Schedule 4, paragraph 65 (12,13)).
17.31 These casinos will retain the rights to gaming machines equivalent to their entitlements under previous legislation. That means they are permitted no more than 20 machines of category B to D (except B3A machines), or they may elect to have any number of category C or D machines instead (as was previously the case under s. 32 of the Gaming Act 1968 (SI 2006/3272: Commencement No 6 and Transitional Provisions Order Schedule 4 paragraph 65(6))). There is no table-to-machine ratio in these casinos.
17.32 These premises licences are subject to the normal system of review as outlined in Part 10 of this guidance. Where a licensing authority has passed a ‘no casino’ resolution, this may not be taken into account in considering whether to review a premises licence.
17.33 Part 9 of this guidance discusses the mandatory and default conditions that attach to premises licences.
17.34 Access to premises is regulated to add additional safeguards for both the public and industry. The principal entrance to the casino should be from a street. A street is defined as including any bridge, road, lane, footway, subway, square, court, alley or passage (including passages through enclosed premises such as shopping centres), whether it is a thoroughfare or not.
17.35 No customer must be able to enter the casino from any other premises holding a casino, bingo, adult gaming centre (AGC), family entertainment centre (FEC) or betting premises licence, or from premises where a FEC, club gaming and club machine, or licensed premises gaming machine permit, has effect.
17.36 There should be no access to a casino from premises wholly or mainly used by children and young persons.
17.37 No other gambling equipment may be situated within two metres of any ordinary gaming table. For the purposes of these conditions an ordinary gaming table means one which is not wholly or partially automated.
17.38 A maximum of 40 separate player positions may be made available for use in relation to wholly automated gaming tables at any time.
17.39 All casinos must display the rules of each type of casino game that can be played on the premises in a prominent place within both the table gaming area and other gambling areas to which customers have unrestricted access. Licensees may do this either by displaying clear and legible signs or by making available to customers leaflets or other written material setting out the rules.
17.40 ATMs must be positioned so that customers must cease to gamble at tables or gaming machines in order to use them.
17.41 A notice shall be displayed at all entrances to the casino stating that no person under the age of 18 will be admitted.
17.42 Large casinos must provide a minimum table gaming area of 1000m2. In determining the floor area of the table gaming area, any number of separate areas within the casino may be taken into account. However, no area counting towards the minimum table gaming area may comprise less than 12.5% of the total minimum table gaming area. No gambling shall be permitted in the table gaming area of the premises other than gambling by way of table gaming.
17.43 Large casinos must offer a non-gambling area of a minimum of 500m2. The non-gambling area may consist of one or more areas within the casino. These areas must be readily available to customers (eg offices, kitchen areas, employee areas will not count). They may include but should not consist exclusively of, lavatories and lobby areas. The area must also include recreational facilities for casino customers that are available for use when the casino is open; where there is more than one area each area must contain recreational facilities. No gambling facilities may be offered in the non-gambling areas.
17.44 Clear and accessible information about the terms on which a bet may be placed should be displayed in a prominent position on the premises.
17.45 Any admission charges, the charges for playing bingo games and the rules of bingo must be displayed in a prominent position on the premises. Rules can be displayed on a sign, by making available leaflets or other written materials containing the rules, or running an audio-visual guide to the rules prior to any bingo game being commenced.
17.46 No more than 40 separate betting positions may be made available for use if betting is provided by means of terminals rather than an over the counter service.
17.47 A notice shall be displayed at all entrances to the casino stating that no person under the age of 18 will be admitted.
17.48 Small casinos must provide a minimum table gaming area of 500m2. In determining the floor area of the table gaming area, any number of separate areas within the casino may be taken into account. However, no area counting towards the minimum table gaming area may comprise less than 12.5% of the total minimum table gaming area. No gambling shall be permitted in the table gaming area of the casino other than gambling by way of table gaming.
17.49 Small casinos must offer a non-gambling area of a minimum of 250m2. The non-gambling area may consist of one or more areas within the premises. These areas must be readily available to customers (eg offices, kitchen areas, employee areas will not count). They may include, but should not consist exclusively of, lavatories and lobby areas. The area must also include recreational facilities for casino customers that are available for use when the casino is open; where there is more than one area each area must contain recreational facilities. No gambling facilities may be offered in the non-gambling areas.
17.50 Clear and accessible information about the terms on which a bet may be placed should be displayed in a prominent position on the premises.
17.51 No more than 40 separate betting positions may be made available for use if betting is provided by means of terminals rather than an over the counter service.
17.52 A notice shall be displayed at all entrances to the casino stating that no person under the age of 18 will be admitted.
17.53 Casinos with converted licences, and that have a gambling area of over 200m2, must offer a minimum non-gambling area equivalent to at least 10% of its total gambling area. In determining the floor area of the gambling area, all areas in which facilities for gambling are provided should be taken into account. The non-gambling area may consist of one or more areas within the casino. These areas must be readily available to customers (eg offices, kitchen areas, employee areas will not count). They may include, but should not consist exclusively of, lavatories and lobby areas. The area must also include recreational facilities for casino customers that are available for use when the casino is open; where there is more than one area each area must contain recreational facilities. No gambling facilities may be offered in the non-gambling areas.
17.54 The default opening hours of all casinos are noon to 6am.
17.55 The following policy objectives summarise the key elements that underpin the approach to controlling where gaming machines may be played.
17.56 The Act and associated regulations set out a comprehensive regulatory framework for controlling gaming machines. By linking different machine entitlements to different types of premises, the framework seeks to ensure the number and power (in terms of stakes, prizes and speed of play) of machines is proportionate to the premises. For such a framework to have any meaningful effect it must be possible for regulatory authorities and consumers to distinguish between different gambling premises.
17.57 The LCCP requires (Social Responsibility Code Provision 9) that gaming machines are only made available in combination with the named non-remote activity of the operating licence. So, unless a casino premises operator offers substantive facilities for non-remote casino games and/or games of equal chance it should not make gaming machines available for use on the premises in question. To contain the unavoidable risk to the licensing objectives associated with gaming machines, premises which offer machines must be appropriately supervised.
17.58 The current regulatory framework prescribes that Category B gaming machines may only be made available in licensed gambling premises and not in locations which may prompt more ambient gambling such as pubs. Maintaining distinctions between different gambling venues allows individuals to make a deliberate choice whether to enter that particular gambling environment. In carrying out their functions under the Act licensing authorities should satisfy themselves that a premises applying for or licensed as a casino is operating or will operate in a manner which a customer would reasonably be expected to recognise as a premises licensed for the purposes of providing facilities for casino games and/or games of equal chance.
17.59 Licensing authorities are not being asked to impose a ‘one size fits all’ view of how a casino should look and function. Rather they are ensuring that a premises licensed for the purposes of providing facilities for casino and/or games of equal chance is operating as such and is not merely a vehicle to offer higher stake and prize gaming machines.
17.60 In exercising its functions under the Act a licensing authority should take account of the relevant code of practice on ‘controlling where gaming machines may be played’. It is specifically obliged to do so when exercising functions under section 153 of the Act. In circumstances where a licensing authority considers an existing premises is not compliant with these general requirements they should contact the Commission at the earliest opportunity.
17.61 Both the Commission and licensing authorities have the power to attach specific conditions to operating or premises licences in circumstances where additional assurance is required. The Commission favours the approach of general conditions for all supplemented by operator specific conditions in cases where novel or contentious operating models are used which include the provision of gaming machines. This is to deliver the policy objectives above and ensure the risk to the licensing objectives is minimised.
17.62 In the Commission’s view the above approach would ideally be adopted at licensing stage. Licensing authorities should ensure that they request all the information required from an applicant for a new premises or for a variation to an existing premises in order to satisfy themselves as to the matters set out at s153 of the Act. This includes the codes of practice and this guidance. The approach of adding case-specific conditions can equally be deployed in respect of an existing unit where concerns arise or when changes are made to the operating model.
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