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Back To TopIntroduction

The Act creates three types of licence:

  • operating licences, which are required by businesses in order to provide gambling facilities lawfully
  • personal licences, which are required by some people working in the gambling industry
  • premises licences, which are required to authorise premises to provide gambling facilities.

2.2 The Commission has responsibility for granting operating and personal licences for commercial gambling operators and personnel working in the industry.

2.3 Licensing authorities have responsibility for licensing gambling premises within their area, as well as undertaking functions in relation to lower stake gaming machines in clubs and miners’ welfare institutes. In England and Wales, local authorities have these responsibilities; in Scotland they have been given to licensing boards. The Scotland Act 2016 has devolved further specific powers to the Scottish Parliament over gaming machines in licensed betting premises which have not as yet been implemented by regulation. The Act also provides a system of temporary and occasional use notices. These enable licensing authorities to authorise premises that are not licensed generally for gambling purposes,to be used for certain types of gambling for limited periods. Parts 14 and 15 provide more information on temporary and occasional use notices.

Back To TopOperating licences

Types of operating licence

2.4 There are various types of operating licence, linked to different types of gambling activity. S.65 of the Act sets out the types of operating licence that may be issued. Some types of gambling activity may be provided remotely, for example over the internet (online gambling) or telephone, or non-remotely such as in land-based premises. Some types of licence provide additional permissions, for example to make particular numbers and types of gaming machine available.

2.5 Different activities may be authorised by a single operating licence (a combined operating licence) but a single licence cannot authorise both remote and non-remote activity. The different types of licence and their associated permissions are summarised in the table below:

Type of licence  Non-remote gambling authorised Remote gambling authorised
Casino operating licence  x  x
Bingo operating licence  x  x
General betting operating licence  x  x
Pool betting operating licence  x  x
Betting intermediary operating licence  x  x
Gaming machine general operating licence for an adult gaming centre  x  
Gaming machine general operating licence for a family entertainment centre  x  
Gaming machine technical operating licence  x  x*
Gambling software operating licence  x  x*
Lottery operating licence  x  x

*by means of remote communication

2.6 Operating licences are not transferable. However, there are provisions in the Act which deal with circumstances in which control of a company changes hands.

Back To TopHow operating licences are granted

2.7 The Commission, like licensing authorities, has a statutory duty to permit gambling in so far as it thinks reasonably consistent with the licensing objectives. In considering whether to grant an operating licence, and any conditions that may be attached, the Commission has regard to the licensing objectives, and to the suitability of the applicant, in terms of integrity, competence and finances (including source of finance). The Commission also takes into account the business model proposed and its likely compatibility with the law and the licensing objectives. Putting forward a business model that is incompatible with the licensing objectives is likely to lead to questions of the operator’s suitability.

2.8 More detail is available in the Commission’s Policy Statement for Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement.

Back To TopOperating licence conditions and codes

2.9 Conditions covering a range of matters may be attached to operating licences. Some conditions are set out on the face of the Act, such as the mandatory conditions relating to society lotteries at s.99. The Secretary of State has powers under s.78 of the Act to apply conditions to a class of operating licence – for example, the condition that regulates the number of playing positions at wholly automated roulette tables in casinos. The Commission also has powers to attach conditions either to a class of operating licences, or an individual licence.

2.10 Breaching a licence condition is a criminal offence, although the Commission will default to its regulatory rather than criminal powers when considering such a breach. Those powers include warnings, unlimited fines and suspension or revocation of the licence.

2.11 The Commission also has the power to issue two type of code. The first is a social responsibility (SR) code. An SR code must be followed and has the force of a licence condition. The Commission may also issue ordinary codes (OC), which are intended to set out best industry practice. They are not mandatory but operators are expected to follow them unless they have alternative arrangements in place that they can demonstrate are at least equally effective.

Back To TopPersonal licences

2.12 The purpose of the personal licence is to ensure that individuals who control facilities for gambling or are able to influence the outcome of gambling, are directly accountable to the Commission. The Commission can impose licence conditions that are specific to personal licences. Such conditions include requirements that the holder takes reasonable steps to avoid causing a breach of an operating licence, keeps up to date with developments in gambling legislation or guidance, and informs the Commission of certain specified key events.

2.13 Outside the casino industry, personal licences are usually held by people in key management positions like strategy, marketing, finance and compliance. In the casino industry, people providing the day to day gambling such as croupiers, also currently need a personal licence.

2.14 Some licences are subject to a requirement that at least one member of management holds a personal licence. This does not apply to small-scale operators, as defined in regulations made by the Secretary of State, who are exempt from the obligation. SI 2006/3266: Reg 2 of the Gambling Act 2005 (Definition of small-scale operator) Regulations 2006.

Back To TopPremises licences

2.15 Where an individual or company uses premises, or causes or permits premises to be used, to offer gambling, they will also need to apply for a premises licence. Detailed information concerning premises licences can be found in Parts 7, 9 and 10 of this guidance.

2.16 Premises licences, and the regulatory tools associated with them, are a key means by which licensing authorities can ensure that risks to the licensing objectives are mitigated effectively.

2.17 Premises licences can be granted without conditions or subject to conditions, and can be reviewed or revoked by the licensing authority. Part 9 of this guidance provides some illustrations of how licence conditions have been used by licensing authorities in a range of circumstances and a non-exhaustive list of premises licence conditions is provided at Appendix F of this guidance.

2.18 Premises licences are issued by the licensing authority with responsibility for the area in which the premises are situated and may authorise the provision of facilities on:  

  • casino premises
  • bingo premises
  • betting premises, including tracks
  • adult gaming centres
  • family entertainment centres.

2.19 Except in the case of tracks (where the occupier of the track who holds the premises licence may not be the person who actually offers the gambling), premises licences may only be issued to those who hold a relevant operating licence, or who have applied for one. Premises licences may be transferred to someone else holding a valid operating licence.

2.20 In addition to licences, there are other forms of authorisation that a licensing authority may grant, for example, authorisations for the temporary use of premises, occasional use notices and different permits for unlicensed family entertainment centres, prize gaming, gaming machines on alcohol-licensed premises and club gaming and club machine permits.