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Advice and guidance updates

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Premises transfers and annual fees

In response to recent queries, LAs are reminded that s100(1)(b) of the Gambling Act makes it clear that a licensee must pay any annual fees (after the initial one) ‘before each anniversary of the issue of the licence’.  As the transferee is relying on the original licence (just altered to reflect the details of the new licensee) the relevant date for annual fee payment is the date of the original issue of the licence, rather than any transfer date. 

Unlicensed Family Entertainment Centres (uFECs)

LAs are reminded that when considering applications for new or renewals of uFEC permits  that the application complies with S238 of the Act in that a uFEC premises is one that is wholly or mainly for making gaming machines available for use, and that they can only site  category D gaming machines.

It is not permissible for such premises to comprise a shopping centre, sports hall, bowling alley or motorway service station nor for machines to be located in corridors or walkways (for example, to public toilets) which are part of the larger building.  As such, applications should be accompanied by a plan which clearly illustrates the premises to which the permit will apply.

Applicants should be able to demonstrate that they are obtaining machines from suppliers licensed by the Commission.

Another important consideration is that of adequate supervision of the uFEC areas – we encourage LAs to satisfy themselves that the risk to the licensing objectives, principally that to children and vulnerable  persons is appropriately managed and in accordance with any requirements specified in their Policy statements.   A safeguarding toolkit produced by Sheffield City Council’s Safeguarding Board may be useful in this regard.

Further information about uFEC renewals is available on our website or if you have any doubts or queries regarding applications, please contact your local Compliance Manager.

Licensing authority annual review of premises fees 

We are aware that some LAs in England and Wales only review their gambling fees every 3 years but we would encourage you do so annually.  The maximum fee levels are set by the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS).

For England and Wales the Gambling Act states that LAs shall “...aim to ensure that the income from fees as nearly as possible equates to the costs of providing the service to which the fees relates” (Gambling Act 2005 Section 212(2) (d))”.

The DCMS guidance to LAs on setting premises licence fees therefore states that: “Licensing authorities should therefore review and publish their fees annually to ensure that the income from the premises licence fees in any one accounting period (ie in any full financial year) does not exceed the full costs incurred by the authority in carrying out the relevant functions.”

The DCMS fee guidance, which is available on the LGA’s knowledge hub, also states the annual fee will cover the reasonable costs of compliance and enforcement work, including the cost of dealing with illegal gambling in a licensing authority’s area.

Fee setting must be transparent and a licensing authority should closely track its costs and be able to evidence how it arrived at the fee levels to demonstrate that they have been calculated on a cost recovery basis only.

Although ultimately it is a matter for the courts, we understand that the Supreme Court ruling in Hemming v Westminster does not impact on licensing authorities setting premises fees under the Act, as the Act does not fall within the scope of the EU Services Directive. 

Be aware of OUNs!

Occasional Use Notices (OUN) are designed to allow licensed betting operators to provide betting facilities at genuine sporting events, such as point-to point racecourses and golf courses for major competitions,  within the boundaries of the identified venue on a specific date. 

We are aware of a small number of instances whereby OUNs have been misused.  Local sporting clubs, or other venues seeking to become tracks through a contrived sporting event, have utilised OUNs to solely or primarily facilitate betting taking place on events occurring away from the identified venue.  For example, a local hotel or club seeks to host a themed event coinciding with the Grand National meeting, claiming that a darts competition will be taking place at the venue thus permitting that a bookmaker could attend and accept bets on the darts event when in reality they will primarily be there to take bets on the Grand National. 

Please ensure that you contact your local compliance manager for advice if you should receive an OUN that does not relate to a genuine recognised sporting event. 

LAs are also reminded that an OUN must be submitted for EACH day that the betting activity will be conducted on the premises. For example 4 notices for 4 consecutive days of betting and not one notice covering the 4 days. 

More information about OUNs is available on our website.

Fairground reminder

In the run up to Easter, we remind the trade about the rules for buying, maintaining and operating fruit machines at fairgrounds ahead of the start of the traditional summer season. Low-stake fruit machines (category D) can be made available at fairgrounds along with coin pushers and crane grabs. Higher stake fruit machines (category B and C), like those typically played in arcades and pubs, are not permitted. Fairground operators must source their machines from a Gambling Commission licensed supplier and employees working with gaming machines must be at least 18 years old. More information is also available in our fair and fairgrounds quick guide.

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