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Back To TopIntroduction

19.1 The Act contains a single class of licence for betting premises although within this, there are different types of premises which require licensing. This part of the guidance discusses off-course betting which is betting that takes place other than at a track in what was previously known as a licensed betting office. Tracks are discussed in Part 20 of this guidance. Please note that there are also betting offices on tracks, that have a separate premises licence from the track licence, which are also discussed in Part 20.

19.2 The Act also permits betting intermediaries to operate from premises. S.13 of the Act defines a betting intermediary as a person who provides a service designed to facilitate the making or acceptance of bets between others. Although betting intermediaries usually offer their services via remote communication, such as the internet, a betting intermediary can apply for a betting premises licence to offer intermediary services upon the premises, such as a premises based trading room. The Commission has issued an advice note on betting intermediaries (this advice note does not form part of the Guidance to licensing authorities).

19.3 Licensing authorities are responsible for issuing and monitoring premises licences for all betting premises. The issuing of premises licences is discussed in Part 7 of this guidance.

Back To TopProtection of children and young persons

19.4 Children and young persons are not permitted to enter premises with a betting premises licence, although exemptions apply to tracks, as explained in Part 20 of this guidance, and s.46 and s.47 of the Act set out offences of inviting, causing or permitting a child or young person to gamble, or to enter certain gambling premises. Social Responsibility (SR) code 3.2.7(3) in the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) states that ‘licensees must ensure that their policies and procedures take account of the structure and layout of their gambling premises’ in order to prevent underage gambling. Children and young persons are not allowed to be employed at premises with a betting premises licence.

Back To TopGaming machines

19.5 S.172(8) provides that the holder of a betting premises licence may make available for use up to four gaming machines of category B, C or D. Regulations state that category B machines at betting premises are restricted to sub-category B2, B3 and B4 machines (the terminals commonly in use are able to provide both B2 and B3 content).

Back To TopSelf-service betting terminals (SSBTs)

19.6 S.235(2)(c) provides that a machine is not a gaming machine if it is designed or adapted for use to bet on future real events. Some betting premises may make available machines that accept bets on live events, such as horse racing, as a substitute for placing a bet over the counter. These SSBTs are not gaming machines and therefore neither count towards the maximum permitted number of gaming machines, nor have to comply with any stake or prize limits. SSBTs merely automate the process that can be conducted in person and the Act exempts them from regulation as a gaming machine.

19.7 However, where a machine is made available to take bets on virtual races (that is, results and/or images generated by computer to resemble races or other events) that machine is a gaming machine and counts towards the maximum permitted number of gaming machines, and must meet the relevant category limitations for the premises.

19.8 It is the Commission’s view that the use of SSBTs is a form of remote communication and that a remote licence will be required if SSBTs are used to facilitate the making or accepting of bets by others. The advice note Betting: advice for remote, non-remote and betting intermediaries (this advice note does not form part of the Guidance to licensing authorities) sets out the framework which the Commission applies when deciding whether it considers that a particular operator is offering betting or is acting as a betting intermediary and whether gambling is remote gambling or non-remote gambling.

19.9 S.181 contains an express power for licensing authorities to restrict the number of SSBTs, their nature and the circumstances in which they are made available by attaching a licence condition to a betting premises licence or to a casino premises licence (where betting is permitted in the casino). When considering whether to impose a condition to restrict the number of SSBTs in particular premises, the licensing authority, amongst other things, should take into account the ability of employees to monitor the use of the machines by children and young persons or by vulnerable people.

19.10 Where SSBTs include the functionality to be marketed or presented in foreign languages, licensing authorities may seek to ensure that the operator has considered the ordinary code provision (3.3.2) about making the following information also available in those languages:

  • the information on how to gamble responsibly and access to help referred to in the LCCP
  • the players’ guides to any game, bet or lottery required to be made available to customers under provisions in LCCP
  • the summary of the contractual terms on which gambling is offered, which is required to be provided to customers as a condition of the licensee’s operating licence.

Back To TopBetting premises licence conditions

19.11 Part 9 of this guidance discusses the mandatory and default conditions that attach to premises licences.

Mandatory conditions

19.12 A notice shall be displayed at all entrances to the betting premises stating that no person under the age of 18 will be admitted. The notice should be clearly visible to people entering the premises.

19.13 There must be no access to betting premises from other premises that undertake a commercial activity (except from other premises with a betting premises licence including tracks). Except where it is from other licensed betting premises, the entrance to a betting shop should be from a street (defined as including any bridge, road, lane, footway, subway, square, court, alley or passage - including passages through enclosed premises such as shopping centres - whether a thoroughfare or not).

19.14 Any ATM made available for use on the premises shall be located in a place that requires any customer who wishes to use it to leave any gaming machine or self-service betting terminal (SSBT) in order to do so.

19.15 No apparatus for making information or any other material available in the form of sounds or visual images may be used on the licensed premises, except where used to communicate:

  • information about or coverage of sporting events, including information relating to betting on such events (and incidental information including advertisements)
  • information relating to betting (including results) on any event in connection with which bets may have been affected on the premises.

Betting operator-owned TV channels are permitted.

19.16 No music, dancing or other entertainment is permitted on betting premises. This includes any form of entertainment such as apparatus producing sound or visual images which do not fall within paragraph 19.15 or machines which do not come within the categories of machine explicitly allowed in betting premises under s.172(8) of the Act.

19.17 The consumption of alcohol on the premises is prohibited during any time which facilities for gambling are being provided on the premises. Additionally in Scotland the sale of alcohol on the premises is also specifically prohibited.

19.18 The only publications that may be sold or made available on the premises are racing periodicals or specialist betting publications.

19.19 A notice setting out the terms on which a bet may be placed must be displayed in a prominent position on the premises. In Scotland this notice must be displayed at every entrance.

Default conditions

19.20 Gambling facilities may not be offered in betting premises between the hours of 10pm on one day and 7am on the next day, on any day.

Controlling where gaming machines may be played - betting

19.21 The following policy objectives summarise the key elements that underpin the approach to controlling where gaming machines may be played:

  • with very few low risk exceptions, non-remote gambling should be confined to dedicated gambling premises
  • the distinctions between different types of licensed gambling premises are maintained
  • gambling activities are supervised appropriately
  • within casino, bingo and betting premises, gaming machines are only made available in combination with the named non-remote activity of the operating licence.

19.22 The Act and associated regulations set out a comprehensive regulatory framework for controlling gaming machines. By linking different machine entitlements to different types of premises, the framework seeks to ensure the number and power (in terms of stakes, prizes and speed of play) of machines is proportionate to the premises. For such a framework to have any meaningful effect it must be possible for regulatory authorities and consumers to distinguish between different gambling premises.

19.23 The LCCP requires (Social Responsibility Code Provision 9) that gaming machines are only made available in combination with the named non-remote activity of the operating licence. So, unless a betting premises operator offers substantive facilities for non-remote betting it should not make gaming machines available for use on the premises in question. To contain the unavoidable risk to the licensing objectives associated with gaming machines, premises which offer machines must be appropriately supervised.

19.24 The current regulatory framework prescribes that category B gaming machines may only be made available in licensed gambling premises and not in locations which may prompt more ambient gambling such as pubs. Maintaining distinctions between different gambling venues allows individuals to make a deliberate choice whether to enter that particular gambling environment. In carrying out their functions under the Act licensing authorities should satisfy themselves that a premises applying for or licensed for betting is operating or will operate in a manner which a customer would reasonably be expected to recognise as a premises licensed for the purposes of providing facilities for betting.

19.25 Licensing authorities are not being asked to impose a ‘one size fits all’ view of how a betting premises should look and function. Rather they are ensuring that a premises licensed for the purposes of providing facilities for betting is operating as such and is not merely a vehicle to offer higher stake and prize gaming machines.

19.26 In exercising its functions under the Act a licensing authority should take account of the relevant code of practice on ‘controlling where gaming machines may be played’. It is specifically obliged to do so when exercising functions under section 153 of the Act. In circumstances where a licensing authority considers an existing premises is not compliant with these general requirements they should contact the Commission at the earliest opportunity.

19.27 Both the Commission and licensing authorities have the power to attach specific conditions to operating or premises licences in circumstances where additional assurance is required. The Commission favours the approach of general conditions for all supplemented by operator-specific conditions in cases where novel or contentious operating models are used which include the provision of gaming machines. This is to deliver the policy objectives above and ensure the risk to the licensing objectives is minimised.

19.28 In the Commission’s view the above approach would ideally be adopted at licensing stage. Licensing authorities should ensure that they request all the information required from an applicant for a new premises or for a variation to an existing premises in order to satisfy themselves as to the matters set out at s153 of the Act. This includes the codes of practice and this guidance. The approach in adding case-specific conditions can equally be deployed in respect of an existing unit where concerns arise or when changes are made to the operating model.

Back To TopIndustry codes

19.26 The betting industry, in common with other sectors of the gambling industry, has developed a variety of codes, for example through their trade association. Their main focus has been on matters related to social responsibility. Such codes, whilst not having the force of a licence condition or code, can assist officers when conducting premises inspections. Updates are provided in the LA Bulletin and on trade association websites.