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Back To TopIntroduction

15.1 S.39 of the Act provides that where there is betting on a track on 8 days or fewer in a calendar year, betting may be permitted by an occasional use notice (OUN)without the need for a full premises licence. The Secretary of State has the power to increase or decrease the number of occasional use notices that an operating licence holder could apply for each calendar year. ‘Day’ is defined as midnight to midnight, so an event that starts on one calendar day and ends on the following day would count as two days. The intention behind OUNs is to permit licensed betting operators with appropriate permission from the Commission, to use tracks for short periods for conducting betting, where the event upon which the betting is to take place is of a temporary, infrequent nature (the OUN dispenses with the need for a betting premises licence for the track in these circumstances). An OUN must be served by a person who is responsible for the administration of events on the track or by an occupier of the track. The following should be noted in relation to an OUN:

  • OUNs can only be relied upon for eight days or fewer in a calendar year and therefore licensing authorities should keep a record of the number of notices served in relation to each track. The period of eight days applies to the venue and not the individual who has submitted the notice.
  • an OUN must be submitted for each day that betting activity will be conducted on the premises. If betting activity is to be held over a period of eight consecutive days, the operator will be required to submit eight separate notices.
  • the notice must specify the day on which it has effect. An event running past midnight and ending on the following day accounts for two occasional use days, even though in practice it is one event.
  • no objection or counter notice (refusal) is possible unless the maximum number will be exceeded.
  • notice must be given to the licensing authority and the police, in writing, before the event starts.
  • no premises licence can exist for the place which is the subject of the notice.
  • land can be used temporarily as a track, for example for a point-to-point race, provided that sporting events or races take place there. There is no need for a track to be permanently established.

Back To TopWhat constitutes a track

15.2 While tracks are normally thought of as permanent racecourses, authorities should note that the meaning of ‘track’ in the Act covers not just horse racecourses or dog tracks, but also any other premises on any part of which a race or other sporting event takes place, or is intended to take place (s.353(1)). The Commission’s guidance relating to tracks is contained in Part 20 of this guidance.

15.3 This means that land which has a number of uses, one of which fulfils the definition of track, can qualify for the occasional use notice provisions, for example agricultural land upon which a point-to-point meeting takes place. The point-to-point and hunter race chase calendar lists each fixture, and is a useful tool for licensing authorities to check that they are being notified of all possible OUNs. Land used temporarily as a track can qualify, provided races or sporting events take place or will take place there. The track need not be a permanent fixture.

Back To TopUse (and misuse) of OUNs

15.4 The Commission is aware of some instances of the apparent misuse of OUNs, by the arrangement of a contrived sporting event at a premises solely in order to apply for an OUN and to permit betting on premises where it would not normally be allowed. Whilst the Commission has not introduced a new licence condition limiting the betting to bets on the outcomes of a race, competition or other sporting event taking place at the track in question whilst the OUN is in force, the situation will be kept under review.

15.5 OUNs may not be relied upon for more than eight days in a calendar year, which relates to a calendar year starting 1 January and not to any period of 12 months. The Secretary of State has the power to increase or decrease the number of OUNs that are permitted, but there are currently no plans to use this power.

15.6 Non-commercial, fundraising race nights can be run as betting events at sporting venues under the authority of an OUN, whether or not the sporting event on which the bets are taken is held at that venue. The sporting event on which the bets are or will be taken also need not be taking place at the same time as the betting under the OUN.

Back To TopProcedure

15.7 Licensing authorities and track operators and occupiers should note that the processes set out in the Act for applying for an OUN are different to those for Temporary Use Notices (TUNs).

15.8 The notice must be served on the licensing authority and copied to the chief officer of police for the area in which the track is wholly or partly located. The notice must specify the day on which it has effect. Notices may be given in relation to consecutive days, so long as the overall limit of eight days is not exceeded in the calendar year.

15.9 Provided that the notice will not result in betting facilities being available for more than eight days in a calendar year, there is no provision for counter-notices or objections to be submitted.

15.10 The Act does not require the applicant or the licensing authority to notify the Commission that an OUN has been given. However the Commission does require licensing authorities to submit returns showing how many OUNs were received during each year (see also Part 13).

15.11 It should be noted that betting operators cannot provide gaming machines at tracks by virtue of an OUN.