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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


6 - The meaning of ‘available for use’

16.16. S.242 of the Act makes it an offence for a person to make a gaming machine available for use, where they do not hold an operating licence or other permission covering gaming machines and where no other exemption applies.

16.17. The Act does not define what ‘available for use’ means, but the Commission considers that a gaming machine is ‘available for use’ if a person can take steps to play it without the assistance of the operator.

16.18. More than the permitted number of machines may be physically located on a premises, but the onus is on licensees to demonstrate that no more than the permitted number are ‘available for use’ at any one time.

16.19. A machine that can operate at more than one category, which is operating at a lower category, does not contribute to the number of machines ‘available for use’ at a higher category until it switches to that category. Licensees must ensure no more than the permitted number are ‘available for use’ at any one time.

16.20. Systems in which a number of machines are networked so that the player can select which game and category they play are permitted but licensees must still adhere to any restrictions on the number of machines at a certain category.

16.21. Gaming machine entitlements in AGC or bingo premises set out that only 20 percent of machines can be category B machines in order to ensure a balanced offering of gambling products and restrict harder gambling opportunities.

16.22. Machine design has changed in recent years and space-saving gaming machines – in the form of tablets, multi-player units and narrow or in-fill machines – have become available. Some of these machines appear to have been designed primarily to maximise category B machine entitlements.

16.23. We updated our ‘available for use’ guidance in 2019 to make it clear that for the purpose of calculating the category B machine entitlement in gambling premises, gaming machines should only be counted if they can be played simultaneously by different players without physical hindrance. For example, the Commission would consider that a multi-position machine that technically allows two or more players to play simultaneously but in reality requires those players to stand very closely together or adopt unnatural participation positions, to the effect that a second player would be discouraged from attempting to use the machine, could not be classed as two or more machines.

16.24. In relation to tablets, licensees should ensure that there is sufficient floorspace in the premises to permit counted tablets to be used simultaneously.

16.25. Electronic Bingo Terminals (EBTs) that offer gaming machine content in addition to bingo content are gaming machines and subject to adherence with the above principles. Licensees are reminded however that an EBT must only allow participation in one gambling activity at a time and should not therefore contain functionality which allows participation in bingo and gaming machine activity simultaneously.

16.26. We have published our ‘available for use’ guidance on the Commission website, and provided additional information specifically in relation to when is a gaming machine 'available for use' in AGC or bingo premises under the 20 percent regulations.

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Multiple activity premises
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Machines other than gaming machines in gambling premises
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