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When a machine is 'available for use'

Updated guidance published 24 October 2019

We consider a gaming machine is ‘available for use’ if a player can take steps to play it without the assistance of the operator. More than the permitted number of machines may be physically located on a premises but the onus is on licensees to demonstrate that no more than the permitted number are ‘available for use’ at any one time.

When is a machine 'available for use' in AGC or bingo premises under the 20% regulations? 

Licensees are only entitled to count the number of machines that can be played simultaneously by different players without physical hindrance.

The Commission would consider, for example, that a multi-position machine that technically allowed two or more players to play simultaneously but in reality required those players to stand very closely together or adopt unnatural participation positions, to the effect that a second player would be discouraged from attempting to use the machine, could not be classed as two or more machines.

Furthermore, in relation to tablets, licensees should ensure that there is sufficient floorspace in the premises to permit counted tablets to be used simultaneously.

What about machines providing more than one category?

A machine that can operate at more than one category, which is operating at a lower category, does not contribute to the number of machines ‘available for use’ at a higher category until it switches to that category. Licensees must ensure no more than the permitted number are ‘available for use’ at any one time.

What about machines that are networked?

Systems in which a number of machines are networked so that the player can select which game and category they play are permitted but licensees must still adhere to any restrictions on the number of machines at a certain category.

What about Electronic Bingo Terminals (EBTs)?

Electronic Bingo Terminals (EBTs) that offer gaming machine content in addition to bingo content are gaming machines and subject to adherence with the above principles. Licensees are reminded however that an EBT must only allow participation in one gambling activity at a time and should not therefore contain functionality which allows participation in bingo and gaming machine activity simultaneously.