7.1 Considering applications for premises licences is the main business of the licensing authority in terms of local gambling regulation. Where an individual or company uses premises, or causes or permits premises to be used to offer gambling, a premises licence is required.
7.2 Premises licences are issued by the licensing authority with responsibility for the area in which the premises are situated. Guidance on dealing with premises which are situated in more than one licensing authority can be found at paragraph 7.10.
7.3 In accordance with s.150 of the Act, premises licences can authorise the provision of facilities on:
7.4 By distinguishing between premises types, the Act makes it clear that the gambling activity of the premises should be linked to the premises described. Thus, in a bingo premises, the gambling activity should be bingo, with gaming machines as an ancillary offer on the premises. This principle also applies to existing casino licences (but not to licences granted under the Gambling Act 2005) and betting premises licences. The Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) sets out in full the requirements on operators. Subject to the gaming machine entitlements which various types of licence bring with them (except in the case of tracks), the Act does not permit premises to be licensed for more than one of the above activities.
7.5 In the Act, ‘premises’ is defined as including ‘any place’. S.152 therefore prevents more than one premises licence applying to any place. But, there is no reason in principle why a single building could not be subject to more than one premises licence, provided they are for different parts of the building, and the different parts of the building can reasonably be regarded as being different premises. This approach has been taken to allow large, multiple unit premises such as pleasure parks, tracks, or shopping malls to obtain discrete premises licences, where appropriate safeguards are in place. However, licensing authorities should pay particular attention if there are issues about sub-division of a single building or plot and should ensure that mandatory conditions relating to access between premises are observed.
7.6 In most cases the expectation is that a single building/plot will be the subject of an application for a licence, for example, 32 High Street. But that does not mean that 32 High Street cannot be the subject of separate premises licences for the basement and ground floor, if they are configured acceptably. Whether different parts of a building can properly be regarded as being separate premises will depend on the circumstances. The location of the premises will clearly be an important consideration and the suitability of the division is likely to be a matter for discussion between the operator and the licensing authority.
7.7 The Commission does not consider that areas of a building that are artificially or temporarily separated, for example by ropes or moveable partitions, can properly be regarded as different premises. If a premises is located within a wider venue, a licensing authority should request a plan of the venue on which the premises should be identified as a separate unit.
7.8 The Commission recognises that different configurations may be appropriate under different circumstances but the crux of the matter is whether the proposed premises are genuinely separate premises that merit their own licence – with the machine entitlements that brings – and are not an artificially created part of what is readily identifiable as a single premises.
7.9 The Act sets out that the type and number of higher stake gaming machines allowable in premises is restricted according to the type of premises licence or permit granted. For example, a converted casino licence allows for 20 gaming machines in categories B, C or D. With the exception of AGCs and FECs, premises are not permitted to be used exclusively for making gaming machines available, but rather to provide the gaming facilities corresponding to the premises licence type. Further detail on gaming machines is set out in Part 16 of this guidance.
7.10 The Act states that an application must be made to a licensing authority in whose area the premises are wholly or partly situated. In circumstances where the premises lie in more than one licensing authority’s area, the operator should make their application to just one of those authorities. As both licensing authorities are responsible authorities under s.157 of the Act, the other licensing authority must be notified of the application and is entitled to make representations. As a responsible authority, it has an opportunity to pass relevant information about the premises to the licensing authority determining the application. Further detail on responsible authorities is set out at Part 8 of this guidance.
7.11 Casino premises are subject to separate regulations, involving a two-stage application process. Details of the two stage process can be found in Part 17 of this guidance.
7.12 The Act permits premises licences to be granted for passenger vessels. Separate application forms are prescribed for vessels under the Premises Licences and Provisional Statements Regulations (SI 2007/459 or SSI 2007/196). The definition of a vessel in s.353(1) of the Act is:
7.13 This last part of the definition should be given a normal and sensible interpretation. Structures which are an extension of the land are not vessels, even if they arch over water. Thus, neither a pier nor a bridge is to be considered a vessel and they remain premises under the Act. This is important because not all forms of permit are available to vessels.
7.14 The Act allows pleasure boats to apply for premises licences. As with multi-purpose buildings, the part of the vessel where gambling takes place will be licensed and the usual restrictions on access for children will apply. The Act applies in relation to a vessel that is not permanently moored or berthed, as if it were premises situated in a place where it is usually moored or berthed. The relevant licensing authority for considering an application for a premises licence in respect of a vessel is the authority for the area in which it is usually moored or berthed.
7.15 Where a premises licence is sought in connection with a vessel which will be navigated while licensable activities take place, the licensing authority should be concerned with the promotion of the licensing objectives on board the vessel. It should not focus on matters relating to safe navigation or operation of the vessel, the general safety of passengers or emergency provision, all of which are subject to regulations which must be met before the vessel is issued with its Passenger Certificate and Safety Management Certificate.
7.16 Licences are not required for gambling if it takes place aboard a vessel engaged on an international journey. Such gambling is exempted from the offences under the Act if the vessel is on a journey which has taken it, or is intended to take it, into international waters (so this includes cross-channel ferries). In the case of aircraft, no offence takes place if the gambling takes place in international airspace.
7.17 This means that licensing authorities will have jurisdiction over gambling conducted on vessels on all inland waterways, at permanent moorings, and on all aircraft on the ground or in domestic airspace. If an ocean-going vessel is involved, authorities will need to establish where the vessel has been, or is intending to go.
7.18 Vehicles (trains, road vehicles, aircraft, sea planes and amphibious vehicles, other than a hovercraft) may not be the subject of a premises licence and therefore all forms of commercial betting and gaming will be unlawful in a vehicle in Great Britain. Certain allowances are made for private and non-commercial gaming or betting to take place in a vehicle, but these are subject to a number of stringent requirements. These ensure that, at no point, can the gambling become a commercial activity.
7.19 An issue that may arise when division of a premises is being considered is the nature of the unlicensed area from which a customer may access a licensed gambling premises. The precise nature of this public area will depend on the location and nature of the premises. Licensing authorities will need to consider whether the effect of any division is to create a machine shed-type environment with very large banks of machines, which is not the intention of the access conditions, or whether it creates a public environment with gambling facilities being made available.
7.20 The Gambling Act 2005 (Mandatory and Default Conditions) Regulations (SI 2007/1409 for England and Wales and SSI2007/266 for Scotland) set out the access provisions for each type of premises. The broad principle is that there can be no access from one licensed gambling premises to another, except between premises which allow access to those under the age of 18 and with the further exception that licensed betting premises may be accessed from other licensed betting premises. Under-18s can go into FECs, tracks, pubs and some bingo clubs, so access is allowed between these types of premises.
7.21 These Regulations define street as ‘including any bridge, road, lane, footway, subway, square, court, alley or passage (including passages through enclosed premises such as shopping malls) whether a thoroughfare or not’. This is to allow access through areas which the public might enter for purposes other than gambling, for example, access to casinos from hotel foyers.
7.22 There is no definition of ‘direct access’ in the Act or regulations, but licensing authorities may consider that there should be an area separating the premises concerned, for example a street or cafe, which the public go to for purposes other than gambling, for there to be no direct access.
7.23 The relevant access provisions for each premises type is as follows:
7.24 The Act contains the objective of ‘protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling’ and sets outs offences at s.46 and s.47 of inviting, causing or permitting a child or young person to gamble, or to enter certain gambling premises. Children are defined in the Act as under-16s and young persons as 16-17 year olds. An adult is defined as 18 and over.
7.25 Children and young persons may take part in private and non-commercial betting and gaming, but the Act restricts the circumstances in which they may participate in gambling or be on premises where gambling is taking place as follows:
7.26 Licensing authorities should take particular care in considering applications for multiple licences for a building and those relating to a discrete part of a building used for other (non-gambling) purposes. In particular, they should be aware that entrances and exits from parts of a building covered by one or more licences should be separate and identifiable so that the separation of different premises is not compromised and that people do not ‘drift’ into a gambling area. The plan of the premises should clearly denote entrances and exits.
7.27 For bingo and FEC premises, it is a mandatory condition that under-18s should not have access to areas where category B and C gaming machines are located and this is achieved through default conditions that require the area to be:
A notice must be displayed in a prominent place at the entrance to the area stating that no person under the age of 18 is permitted to enter the area.
7.28 Products made available for use in gambling premises will often contain imagery that might be of particular appeal to children or young people. For example, cartoon imagery that is ubiquitous on gaming machine livery. Where any such product is sited on age-restricted premises or in the age-restricted area of premises (and in particular, if sited close to the entrance or threshold and therefore visible to children or young people), licensees should consider whether it might risk inviting under 18s to enter the restricted area.
7.29 The LCCP requires licensees to ensure that their policies and procedures for preventing underage gambling take account of the structure and layout of their gambling premises. This therefore requires licensees not only to be able to supervise their premises but also that they should mitigate the risks of under 18s being attracted to enter premises by the products available within them. Where a licensing authority has concerns that such products are visible, they could for example require the licensee to re-site the products out of view.
7.30 There are a range of other conditions which attach to each type of premises which are set out in Part 9 of this guidance and other parts relating to each type of premises.
7.31 With the exception of bingo clubs, tracks on race-days and licensed FECs, children will not be permitted to enter licensed gambling premises. Therefore businesses will need to consider carefully how they wish to configure their buildings if they are seeking to develop multi-purpose sites.
7.32 Licensing authorities should take particular care in considering applications for multiple premises licences for a building and those relating to a discrete part of a building used for other (non-gambling) purposes. In particular, they should be aware of the following:
7.33 In determining whether two or more proposed premises are truly separate, the licensing authority should consider factors which could assist them in making their decision, including:
The Commission has published guidance to assist licensing authority officers when considering applications for, and conducting inspections of, multi-activity premises (this guide does not form part of the Guidance to licensing authorities).
7.34 Where a building consists of a number of areas which hold separate premises licences, each individual licence must not exceed its permitted gaming machine entitlement. The position is different for tracks, as detailed in Part 20.
7.35 The proper application of s.152 means that different premises licences cannot apply in respect of single premises at different times. There is no temporal element to a premises licence. Therefore, premises could not, for example, be licensed as a bingo club on week days and a betting shop at weekends.
7.36 Only one premises licence may be issued for any particular premises at any time although, in some circumstances, the licence may authorise more than one type of gambling. For example, a bingo licence will also authorise the provision of gaming machines. Details of the gambling permissible under each type of licence are set out in the Act and in the premises specific parts of this guidance.
7.37 The exception to this relates to tracks, that is a horse racing course, dog track or other premises where races or sporting events take place, which may be subject to more than one premises licence, provided each licence relates to a specified area of the track.
7.38 The Act sets out that there will be a main (betting premises) licence for the track, and, in addition, subsidiary premises licences for other gambling activities may be issued. The normal limitations in respect of access by children and young persons will apply, although in relation to a premises licence for a track, children and young persons will be permitted to enter track areas where facilities for betting are provided on days when dog racing and/or horse racing takes place. This is subject to the rule that children and young persons may not enter any area where gaming machines (other than category D machines) are provided.
7.39 In principle there is no reason why multiple types of gambling should not co-exist on a track (with the exception of a casino or AGC, because of the access restrictions placed on tracks by Schedule 6, Part 1 of the Gambling Act 2005 (Mandatory and Default Conditions) Regulations), but licensing authorities will want to think about how the third licensing objective is delivered by the co-location of premises. As with the granting of multiple licences in a single building, licensing authorities will need to ensure that entrances to each type of premises are distinct and that under-18s are excluded from gambling areas where they are not permitted to enter.
7.40 A summary of the application forms and statutory notices is provided at Appendix E.
7.41 An application for a premises licence may only be made by persons (which includes companies or partnerships):
7.42 The exception to this is an applicant for a premises licence to allow a track to be used for betting, as these applicants are not required to hold an operating licence if they are merely providing space for other people to provide betting (and those other people hold valid betting operating licences). However, if a track owner is also acting as a betting operator, for example, running pool betting, they will have to have the relevant type of operating licence.
7.43 An application must be made to the relevant licensing authority in the form prescribed in regulations laid down by the Secretary of State or Scottish Ministers, and must be accompanied by:
7.44 The licensing of premises is primarily a matter for local determination and is something which the Commission is unlikely to comment on, unless it raises matters of wider or national significance. However, there have been a limited number of occasions in which an operator has applied for a variation to a premises licence in which the accompanying plan of the premises has only contained an outline of the licensed premises and the exit points without, for example, the location of the gaming machines and counter. We therefore consider it beneficial, for both licensing authorities and operators, for us to set out the issues involved and our understanding of the options available.
7.45 The Gambling Act 2005 (Premises Licences and Provisional Statements) Regulation 2007 (as amended) states that a plan must show:
7.46 The Regulation states (other than in respect of a track) ‘...the plan must show the location and extent of any part of the premises which will be used to provide facilities for gambling in reliance on the licence’. However licensing authorities may consider that this minimum requirement is not sufficient to satisfy them when determining if the application is in accordance with s.153 principles, namely the licensing objectives, this guidance and the Commissions’ codes of practice – in particular the social responsibility codes – and the licensing authorities’ own policy statement. If the application and accompanying plan are insufficient, the licensing authority should ask for more information from the applicant.
7.47 The premises plan itself is only one means by which the licensing authority may seek reassurance that the requirements will be met. It may be that conditions attached to the premises licence regarding lines of sight between the counter and the gaming machines, staffing arrangements or security devices are a more effective method of doing so. Local circumstances and concerns, and the layout of a particular premises, will determine what is most appropriate for an individual application.
7.48 The Secretary of State and Scottish Ministers have made regulations (SI 2007/459: The Gambling Act 2005 (Premises Licences and Provisional Statements) Regulations 2007 and SSI 2007/196 for Scotland) requiring the applicant to publish notice of their application and to notify responsible authorities and other persons about the application. These also apply, with one or two modifications, in relation to applications for provisional statements and some ancillary applications that can be made in relation to a premises licence.
7.49 Notice must be given in three ways:
7.50 A licence application, and any licence subsequently issued, is not valid if the relevant notifications have not been made.
7.51 Previous guidance from DCMS and the Commission has been that an application for a variation will only be required where there are material changes to the layout of the premises. What constitutes a material change will be a matter for local determination but it is expected that a common sense approach will be adopted. When considering an application for variations, the licensing authority will have regard to the principles to be applied as set out in s.153 of the Act.
7.52 In dealing with an application, licensing authorities are obliged to consider representations from two categories of person, referred to in the Act as ‘responsible authorities’ and ‘interested parties’. Representations from other parties are inadmissible. Further information on these categories can be found in Part 8 of this guidance.
7.53 Having determined that the representation is admissible, the licensing authority must consider its relevance. Only representations that relate to the licensing objectives, or that raise issues under the licensing authority’s policy statement, or the Commission’s guidance or codes of practice, are likely to be relevant.
7.54 The licensing authority will also need to consider if representations are ‘frivolous’ or ‘vexatious’. This is a question of fact and licensing authorities are advised to seek help from their legal advisers in interpreting these phrases although relevant considerations may include:
7.55 The Commission does not routinely make representations on premises licence applications. However, the fact that the Commission has not made a representation on a particular premises licence application should not be taken as indicating the Commission’s approval of that application. Exceptionally, where an application for a premises licence, or the operation of a current premises licence, raises matters of wider or national significance, the Commission will consider making representations or requesting a review.
7.56 As explained earlier, the licensing authority’s primary obligation under s.153(1) is to permit the use of premises in so far as it thinks that to do so is:
7.57 Further information and guidance as to the meaning and effect of s.153 is set out at paragraph 5.19 above.
7.58 In determining applications, the licensing authority should not take into consideration matters that are not related to gambling and the licensing objectives. One example would be the likelihood of the applicant obtaining planning permission or building regulations approval for their proposal. Licensing authorities should bear in mind that a premises licence, once it comes into effect, authorises premises to be used for gambling. Accordingly, a licence to use premises for gambling should only be issued in relation to premises that the licensing authority can be satisfied are going to be ready to be used for gambling in the reasonably near future, consistent with the scale of building or alterations required before the premises are brought into use. Equally, licences should only be issued where they are expected to be used for the gambling activity named on the licence. This is why the Act allows a potential operator to apply for a provisional statement if construction of the premises is not yet complete, or they need alteration, or he does not yet have a right to occupy them. Part 11 of this guidance gives more information about provisional statements.
7.59 As the Court has held in a 2008 case (The Queen (on the application of) Betting Shop Services Limited –v- Southend-on-Sea Borough Council  EWHC 105 (Admin)), operators can apply for a premises licence in respect of premises which have still to be constructed or altered, and licensing authorities are required to determine any such applications on their merits. Such cases should be considered in a two stage process; first, licensing authorities must decide whether, as a matter of substance after applying the principles in s.153 of the Act, the premises ought to be permitted to be used for gambling; second, in deciding whether or not to grant the application a licensing authority will need to consider if appropriate conditions can be put in place to cater for the situation that the premises are not yet in the state in which they ought to be before gambling takes place.
7.60 For example, where the operator has still to undertake final fitting out of the premises but can give a reasonably accurate statement as to when the necessary works will be completed, it may be sufficient to simply issue the licence with a future effective date, as is possible under the Regulations (SI 2007/459: The Gambling Act 2005 (Premises Licences and Provisional Statements) Regulations 2007 and SSI No 196: for Scotland). The application form allows the applicant to suggest a commencement date and the notice of grant allows the licensing authority to insert a date indicating when the premises licence comes into effect. In other cases, it may be appropriate to issue the licence subject to a condition that trading in reliance on it shall not commence until the premises have been completed in all respects in accordance with the scale plans that accompanied the licence application. If changes to the pre-grant plans are made, then parties who have made representations should be able to comment on the changes made. Part 9 of this guidance gives more information about licence conditions.
7.61 If the plans submitted at the time of the application for a premises licence are changed in any material respect during the fitting out of the premises after the grant of the licence, then the applicant will be in breach of the licence. If the applicant wishes to change the proposed plans after grant then, in order to avoid breaching the licence, it will be necessary for the applicant to either make a fresh application under s.159 or seek an amendment to a detail of the licence under s.187 of the Act. If there are substantive changes to the plans then this may render the premises different to those for which the licence was granted. In such a case, variation of the licence under s.187 is not possible. For this reason, and while this is a matter of judgement for the licensing authority, the Commission considers it would be more appropriate in the case of any material post grant change, for the applicant to make a fresh application under s.159 to preserve the rights of interested parties and responsible authorities to make representations in respect of the application.
7.62 The local authority will need to be satisfied in any individual case that the completed works comply with the original, or changed, plan attached to the premises licence. Depending upon circumstances, this could be achieved either through physical inspection of the premises or written confirmation from the applicant or surveyor that the condition has been satisfied.
7.63 Requiring the building to be complete before trading commences would ensure that the authority could, if considered necessary, inspect it fully, as could other responsible authorities with inspection rights under Part 15 of the Act. Inspection will allow authorities to check that gambling facilities comply with all necessary legal requirements. For example, category C and D machines in a licensed family entertainment centre must be situated so that people under 18 do not have access to the category C machines. The physical location of higher stake gaming machines in premises to which children have access will be an important part of this, and inspection will allow the authority to check that the layout complies with the operator’s proposals and the legal requirements.
7.64 If faced with an application in respect of uncompleted premises which it appears are not going to be ready to be used for gambling for a considerable period of time, a licensing authority ought to consider whether – applying the two stage approach advocated above – it should grant a licence or whether the circumstances are more appropriate to a provisional statement application. For example, the latter would be the case if there was significant potential for circumstances to change before the premises opens for business. In such cases, the provisional statement route would ensure that the limited rights of responsible authorities and interested parties to make representations about matters arising from such changes of circumstance are protected. Licensing authorities may choose to discuss with individual applicants which route is appropriate, to avoid them having to pay a fee for an application that the licensing authority did not think was grantable.
7.65 When dealing with a premises licence application for finished buildings, the licensing authority should not take into account whether those buildings have to comply with the necessary planning or building consents. Nor should fire or health and safety risks be taken into account. Those matters should be dealt with under relevant planning control, building and other regulations, and must not form part of the consideration for the premises licence. S.210 of the Act prevents licensing authorities taking into account the likelihood of the proposal by the applicant obtaining planning or building consent when considering a premises licence application. Equally, the grant of a gambling premises licence does not prejudice or prevent any action that may be appropriate under the law relating to planning or building.
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