Machines toolkit - case studies
Stopping unlicensed supply and maintenance of gaming machines
As a result of the very positive local working relationship we have with Scarborough Council, coupled with the diligence of one of their officers, they successfully concluded two cases of unlicensed supply and maintenance of gaming machines.
The first of these related to the illegal supply and maintenance of machines identified at locations across the country and led to those operating the arcades and those involved with the supply and maintenance of machines being suitably advised and subsequently stopped or brought within the licensed environment.
In the other case, a locally based unlicensed supplier with sites identified across the north east region has been dealt with.
Both illustrate the important role that local authority officers can and do play in the effective delivery of shared regulation under the Gambling Act where those matters have wider impact. Without this local vigilance, these matters may not come to our notice.
Gaming machines in takeaways
We received information suggesting there may be gaming machines in a number of takeaways in the Lewisham area, without the required licence and/or permit.
We forwarded the information to the London Borough of Lewisham under the local authority compliance event (LACE) process. On receipt of the intelligence, the LA took the following action:
- six venues were visited and each was found to have an unauthorised gaming machine
- suitable advice was given and all the machines were deactivated on the understanding they would be removed
- each was given a formal warning that further offences would result in legal proceedings
- venues were revisited within 14 days to ensure compliance.
This is a recurring problem. All takeaways in Lewisham are visited on a regular basis, and every owner has previously been verbally advised concerning the legal position. Initially all unauthorised machines were removed.
In the event of further offences of this nature the licensing manager has agreed that the offender will be prosecuted and the matter extensively publicised at a local level.
Illegally sited machines in an unlicensed club
An unlicensed club in the London Borough of Islington failed to respond after warnings to remove some Black Horse gaming machines. In a joint operation the LA and the Metropolitan Police seized the illegally sited machines.
The club owner appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to two offences under the Gambling Act 2005 of s37 (1)(c) Use of premises – making gaming machines available for use.
The owner was fined £1,000 for the offences, £600 in costs and surcharges and a forfeiture order was made for the machines, the gaming slips, other related paraphernalia and the money found in the machines.
Working with HMRC on a multi-agency machines operation
Working with HMRC to ensure any tax issues are also addressed can be an extra deterrent.
HMRC, with support from the Gambling Commission and Brighton & Hove and Arun local authorities, seized nearly 90 illegally operated gaming machines from amusement arcades in Sussex and Kent. The owners of the arcades were sentenced for their failure to pay £170,000 in gaming duty.
One man was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 180 hours of community service. The other was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 100 hours community service.
Illegally sited machines in a snooker club
A snooker club in the London Borough of Haringey, where machines had been seized and the owner cautioned previously, was the subject of a multi-agency operation led by the LA and supported by the Metropolitan Police and the Gambling Commission.
This resulted in further seizures of illegally sited gaming machines. The club owner appeared at Tottenham Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to offences under the Gambling Act 2005 of s37 (1)(c) Use of premises – making gaming machines available for use and s242 (1)(a) making a gaming machine available for use.
The owner was fined £2,500 for the offences, £1,423 in costs and surcharges and a forfeiture order was made for the machines.
Illegal betting terminals and gaming machines
We assisted the London Borough of Enfield in a multi-agency illegal machines operation including the police and HMRC, visiting mainly social clubs.
Prior to the operation the LA had written to all the premises in the borough warning of the consequences of siting illegal gaming machines. A variety of 19 illegal gaming machines including a betting terminal were seized.
The betting terminal was housed in an Impulse cabinet which displayed Facebook and You Tube logos. The LA issued cautions and costs to all premises owners and HMRC will fine premises owners for non-payment of gaming machines duty.
Machines at fairgrounds and travelling fairs
Low-stake gaming machines can be made available at fairgrounds along with coin-pushers, cranes and grabbers. Higher stake machines, like those typically played in arcades and pubs, are not permitted. Fairground operators must source their machines from a Gambling Commission licensed supplier and employees working with gaming machines must be at least 18 years old.
Prizes in category D crane machines
Offering packets of cigarettes as prizes in a category D crane machines could result in prosecution.
Regulation 6 in the Circumstances of Use Regulations (SI 2007/2319) (opens in new tab) The nature of prizes is described as:
- 6(2) A Category D gaming machine shall not provide an opportunity to win a proscribed non-money prize from use of the machine.
- 6(3) In this regulation “proscribed non-money prize” means a good or service which it is illegal
- to supply or sell to a child or young person under the laws of the place where the gaming machine is made available for use.
SSBTs at dog tracks
Using Self-Service Betting Terminals (SSBTs) constitutes remote gambling. So a Gambling Commission licence is required to make SSBTs available.
If an operator with a general betting and or pool betting operating licence, who also holds a track premises licence issued by the LA, wishes to site SSBTs at the track, an ancillary remote pool betting operating licence is also required.
Pub machines tie-in and maintenance
Pubs Code etc. Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/790) (opens in new tab)
Activities associated with supply, maintenance or repair of gaming machines require a Gambling Commission technical operating licence.
It is therefore important that anybody either purchasing a gaming machine or using the services of a third party for maintenance or repair first check the licence status of the supplier or service provider to ensure they hold the correct technical operating licence.
If the gaming machine is to be maintained and/or repaired by the owner then they must either hold the appropriate licence or a single machine permit depending on the circumstances.
Crane grab or vending machine?
A device described as a vending machine must comply with one of these two conditions:
- Comply with section 249 of the Act, whereby the prize(s) offered do not exceed the value of the stake to play the machine once. In which case there will be no offence under section 242 of the Act in making the machine available
- The products vended are of an equal/comparable value. The object of the machine is simply to vend a product of a type (for example, chocolate bars). Where the prize(s) vary in value and chance determines which is won then it would be considered gaming and would need to comply accordingly (subject to section 249).
Applications for licensed premises gaming machine permits
Applications for licensed premises gaming machine permits must be made by the licence holder. They cannot be made by anyone acting as an agents for the licensee.
Newcastle City Council prosecution for illegal gambling
Newcastle licensing authority recently successfully prosecuted Mr Eyyup Celik for illegal gambling activity on unlicensed premises at the Turkish Community Centre, 40 Elswick Road, Newcastle. Further to receipt of intelligence, licensing officials visited the premises and identified a gaming machine and a self-service betting terminal available for use at the premises, which were seized.
Newcastle Magistrates Court imposed a fine of £250 (reduced from £375 to give him credit for his guilty plea) and also imposed £30 victim surcharge, £1,112 officer costs and £55 legal costs. The court ordered forfeiture of the machines and the money (£1,560) contained therein.
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Last updated: 27 April 2021
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