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Guidance note on gaming machine 'In Game' gambles

Background

Regulation 2(2) in both the Gaming Machine (Circumstances of Use) Regulations 2007 and the Categories of Gaming Machine Regulations 2007 effectively states:

“a person is to be treated as using a gaming machine once, even where he uses the machine to gamble more than once, if the payment for each gamble is made before he is able to know the result of any of them.”

Section 7.22 of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Circumstances of Use Regulations clarifies that:

This regulation will prevent the development of parallel games, which enables a player to start a “game” once and the machine makes a number of determinations at the same time. Such machines seek to circumvent the maximum stake and prize limits, by enabling a player to stake, simultaneously, multiples of the maximum stake permitted for its category of machine. The Department is clear that such practices should be outlawed.

(Note that regulation gives an exemption for Penny Falls machines (Pushers))

The regulation above prevents the development of parallel games but may also be applied to games which permit secondary or subsequent gambles with funds won during earlier parts of the game. However, it must always be remembered that ultimately only a court can provide a definitive interpretation of the law.

In response to calls for clarification, the Commission is providing this guidance with a considered view of how this regulation should be appropriately applied in the absence of relevant case law. But this clarification does not dilute the responsibility of manufacturers, suppliers and operators to obtain the necessary legal advice to ensure their products do not breach the legislation.

Some types of in-game gambles potentially covered by this restriction were in place prior to the Gambling Act 2005 coming into force and many still exist today; other versions of secondary or subsequent gambles have been more recently developed and push the boundaries to a point where the Commission is of the view that the statutory maximum stake is being exceeded in such games.

We are concerned about ensuring that the statutory maximum stake level is not circumvented on gaming machines but are also conscious that we do not want to stifle legitimate innovation or player enjoyment. Whilst it cannot be prescriptive, this guidance will, it is hoped, make clear to manufacturers and operators where we consider the boundaries lie in game design around the subject of in-game gambles. It is offered in order to help (gaming machine) game designers understand the acceptable boundaries of further gambling a win, which is also referred to as an ‘in-game’ or a ‘secondary’ gamble.

Note:

  • Apart from providing clarification as to the scope of regulation 2(2) stated above, nothing in this guidance shall be taken to, in any way, replace or over-rule existing Regulations and Technical Standards.
  • Following this guidance does not guarantee compliance with the Legislation or Gaming Machine Technical Standards (GMTS).
  • This guidance could be developed further and/or could possibly be included within the Gaming Machine Technical Standards (GMTS); the need for this (or not) will be determined by the response to this guidance over time.

Terms used (for the purpose of this guidance only)

Primary gamble: The first gamble (or gambles) that occur when the game begins. The primary gamble(s) end at the point the player is first able to collect any winnings from the game. (Primary gambles are often called the base game).

Secondary gamble: Any gamble that occurs following the primary gamble. Secondary gambles only risk funds won during the primary gamble, or previous secondary gambles within the same game – if new funds are risked then it becomes a new game with a new primary gamble and is not a secondary gamble. (Secondary gambles are often called the feature game).

Game: The entirety of the gambles that occur, encompassing the primary gamble(s) and all secondary gambles. (The base game plus any feature game).

A game on a gaming machine may also be considered as:

“A defined sequence of activities, during which one or more gambles may be offered or undertaken at various points, until a definitive endpoint[1] is reached, whereupon the player collects any prize won.”

Casino Banker’s Game[2]: A gaming machine representation of a recognised table based casino banker’s game. This includes a game calling itself something else but using essentially the same game mechanic as a recognised table based casino banker’s game. Poker[3], as played on a gaming machine, is typically not a casino banker’s game.

Guidance

Primary gamble:

  • If a game consists of only a primary gamble, then there are no further restrictions in this guidance.
  • The primary gamble, prior to any secondary gamble, shall not involve a casino banker’s game.

Secondary gamble(s):

  • If each secondary gamble within a game does not exceed the statutory maximum stake (for the category of machine concerned), then there are no further restrictions in this guidance – subject to the bullet points below.
  • If multiple secondary gambles occur without player involvement between each gamble, any wins awarded shall be paid to the win meter (or players’ bank) as they occur.
  • Secondary gambles involving a casino banker’s game shall be limited to one iteration. They shall cease when the normal game endpoint[4] is reached.


[1] Note that recognised table based casino banker’s games (such as roulette) have definitive endpoints.

[2] Used in connection with a gaming machine in this guidance only.

[3] Some versions of poker played in casinos are casino banker’s games. If such a version of poker is presented on a gaming machine, then it shall be considered to be a casino banker’s game.

[4] The ‘normal game endpoint’ shall be considered to be the same as the endpoint found on the recognised table based version of the casino banker’s game being played.