22.1 The Act creates two classes of family entertainment centre (FEC). This part of the guidance concerns licensed FECs. Unlicensed FECs are dealt with in Part 24. Persons operating a licensed FEC must hold a gaming machine general operating licence(Family Entertainment Centre) from the Commission and a premises licence from the relevant licensing authority. They will be able to make category C and D gaming machines available.
22.2 FECs are commonly located at seaside resorts, in airports and at motorway service stations, and cater for families, including unaccompanied children and young persons. Licensing authorities should take into account this specific risk when considering applications and when inspecting such premises, and will likely reflect the risks in their statement of policy.
22.3 Children and young persons are permitted to enter an FEC and may use category D machines. They are not permitted to use category C machines and it is a requirement that there must be clear segregation between the two types of machine, so that under-18s do not have access to them. Social Responsibility (SR) code 3.2.5(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. Mandatory conditions apply to FEC premises licences regarding the way in which the area containing the category C machines should be set out, detailed below at paragraph 22.9.
22.4 SR 3.2.5(2) requires operators to ensure that employees prevent access and challenge children or young persons who attempt to use category C machines. It is strongly recommended that licensing authorities ensure that staffing and supervision arrangements are in place to meet this requirement, both at the application stage and during subsequent inspections.
22.5 A licensed FEC is classified as ‘premises’ and only premises that are wholly or mainly used for making gaming machines available may hold an FEC premises licence (s.238 of the Act). As a result, it is generally not permissible for such premises to correspond to an entire shopping centre, airport, motorway service station or similar. Typically, the machines would be in a designated, enclosed area.
22.6 The Commission considers that it is not permissible for gaming machines which should be contained within the FEC premises, to be located in corridors and walkways which form part of the larger building. Machines have been found in such venues without the requisite FEC premises licence and as such the machines are being made available unlawfully and are not subject to the controls necessary to minimise gambling-related harm and to protect children and vulnerable people. This exposes young people to ambient gambling that the Act was designed to prevent (through the removal of machines from take-aways, taxi offices etc).
22.7 In the event that a licensing authority may have granted an FEC premises licence to premises that should not have qualified for one, the procedure for review will apply as set out in Part 10 of this guidance. Depending on circumstances this might include sharing concerns with the premises licence holder (exploring the possibility of them applying to vary the premises licence to render it compliant), seeking a review of the premises licence and/or imposing conditions.
22.8 Part 9 of this guidance discusses the mandatory and default conditions that attach to premises licences. Currently there are no default conditions specific to FECs.
22.9 The summary of the terms and conditions of the premises licence issued by the licensing authority under s.164(1)(c) of the Act must be displayed in a prominent place within the premises.
22.10 The layout of the premises must be maintained in accordance with the plan.
22.11 The premises must not be used for the sale of tickets in a private lottery or customer lottery, or the National Lottery.
22.12 No customer shall be able to enter the premises directly from a casino, an adult gaming centre or betting premises (other than a track). There is no definition of ‘direct access’ in the Act or regulations, but licensing authorities may consider that there should be an area separating the premises concerned, such as a street or cafe, which the public go to for purposes other than gambling, for there to be no direct access.
22.13 Any ATM made available for use on the premises must be located in a place that requires any customer who wishes to use it to cease gambling at any gaming machine in order to do so.
22.14 Over-18 areas within FECs that admit under-18s, must be separated by a barrier with prominently displayed notices at the entrance stating that under-18s are not allowed in that area and with adequate supervision in place to ensure that children and young persons are not able to access these areas or the category C machines. Supervision may be done either by placing the terminals within the line of sight of an official of the operator or via monitored CCTV.
22.15 The consumption of alcohol in licensed FECs is prohibited at any time during which facilities for gambling are being provided. Additionally in Scotland the sale of alcohol on the premises is specifically prohibited. A notice stating this should be displayed in a prominent position on the premises.
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