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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


1 - Introduction

16.1. This part of the guidance describes the categories of gaming machine and the number of such machines that may be permitted in each type of gambling premises as set out in the Act. Licensing authorities should note that the term ‘gaming machine’ now covers all machines on which people can gamble – subject to the exceptions below – and the term has been preserved in the Act, because it is one that is readily understood.

16.2. S.235(1) of the Act sets out the definition of a gaming machine. The definition is wider than those included in previous gambling legislation and covers all types of gambling activity that can take place on a machine, including betting on virtual events. However, the following should be noted:

  • there remains a distinction between skill machines and gaming machines, in that skill machines are unregulated
  • S.235(2) contains important exemptions for equipment that is not to be considered a gaming machine, even when gambling can be performed on it – for example, a home PC is not classed as a gaming machine, even though someone could access remote gambling facilities on a home PC.

16.3. Specific guidance on machines that are exempt is set out later in this part of the guidance, although licensing authorities should take legal advice or contact the Commission directly if they have concerns about the precise legal status of equipment being used on premises.

16.4. The Commission is responsible for licensing manufacturers and suppliers of gaming machines and advises operators to obtain machines from Commission-licensed suppliers. Similarly, permit holders and those applying for permits for clubs, alcohol-licensed premises or family entertainment centres will also be advised through Commission guidance to obtain gaming machines from Commission-licensed suppliers.

16.5. The Commission has set gaming machine technical standards relating to the way in which each category of machine will operate. The Commission has also set out a testing strategy that details the testing arrangements for each category of machine. The Commission has the power to test gaming machines, both before they are supplied and when in operation in premises, to ensure that they are operating as advertised.

16.6. In order for a premises to site gaming machines some form of authorisation is normally required. Typically, this is:

  • an operating licence from the Commission and a gambling premises licence from a licensing authority
  • an alcohol premises licence from a licensing authority
  • a gaming machine permit from a licensing authority.

16.7. Depending on the authorisation, there are limits placed on the category of machines that can be sited and, in some cases, on the number of machines that can be made available for use.

16.8. If a licensing authority has concerns relating to the manufacture, supply, installation, maintenance or repair of gaming machines, or the manner in which they are operating, it should contact the Commission.

16.9. S.172 of the Act prescribes the number and category of gaming machines that are permitted in each type of gambling premises licensed by authorities. Neither the Commission nor licensing authorities have the power to set different limits or further expand or restrict the categories of machine that are permitted. The exception to this is alcohol-licensed premises that hold gaming machine permits, where licensing authorities have discretion to specify the number of permitted gaming machines. In addition, limits are set separately in the Act for certain types of permit issued by licensing authorities. Machine limits are summarised at Appendix A of this guidance.

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Categories of gaming machine
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