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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


6 - Bingo premises licence conditions

18.18. Part 9 of this guidance discusses the mandatory and default conditions that attach to premises licences.

Mandatory conditions

18.19. A notice stating that no person under the age of 18 years is permitted to play bingo on the premises shall be displayed in a prominent place at every entrance to the premises.

18.20. No customer shall be able to enter bingo premises directly from a casino, an adult gaming centre or betting premises (other than a track).

18.21. Over 18 areas, within bingo halls that admit under-18s, must be separated by a barrier with prominently displayed notices stating that under-18s are not allowed in that area and with adequate supervision in place to ensure that children and young people are not able to access these areas or the category B or 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.

18.22. Any admission charges, the charges for playing bingo games and the rules of bingo must be displayed in a prominent position on the premises. Rules can be displayed on a sign, by making available leaflets or other written material containing the rules, or running an audio-visual guide to the rules prior to any bingo game being commenced.

18.23. Any ATM made available for use on the premises shall be located in a place that requires any customer who wishes to use it to cease gambling in order to do so.

Default conditions

18.24. Bingo facilities in bingo premises may not be offered between the hours of midnight and 9am. However, there are no restrictions on access to gaming machines in bingo premises.

Controlling where gaming machines may be played – bingo

18.25. The following policy objectives summarise the key elements that underpin the approach to controlling where gaming machines may be played:

  • with very few low risk exceptions, non-remote gambling should be confined to dedicated gambling premises
  • the distinctions between different types of licensed gambling premises are maintained
  • gambling activities are supervised appropriately
  • within casino, bingo and betting premises, gaming machines are only made available in combination with the named non-remote activity of the operating licence.

18.26. The Act and associated regulations set out a comprehensive regulatory framework for controlling gaming machines. By linking different machine entitlements to different types of premises, the framework seeks to ensure the number and power (in terms of stakes, prizes and speed of play) of machines is proportionate to the premises. For such a framework to have any meaningful effect it must be possible for regulatory authorities and consumers to distinguish between different gambling premises.

18.27. The LCCP requires (Social Responsibility Code Provision 9) that gaming machines are only made available in combination with the named non-remote activity of the operating licence. So, unless a bingo premises operator offers substantive facilities for non-remote bingo it should not make gaming machines available for use on the premises in question. To contain the unavoidable risk to the licensing objectives associated with gaming machines, premises which offer machines must be appropriately supervised.

18.28. The current regulatory framework prescribes that category B gaming machines may only be made available in licensed gambling premises and not in locations which may prompt more ambient gambling such as pubs. Maintaining distinctions between different gambling venues allows individuals to make a deliberate choice whether to enter that particular gambling environment. In carrying out their functions under the Act licensing authorities should satisfy themselves that a premises applying for or licensed for bingo is operating or will operate in a manner which a customer would reasonably be expected to recognise as a premises licensed for the purposes of providing facilities for bingo.

18.29. Licensing authorities are not being asked to impose a ‘one size fits all’ view of how a bingo premises should look and function. Rather they are ensuring that a premises licensed for the purposes of providing facilities for bingo is operating as such and is not merely a vehicle to offer higher stake and prize gaming machines.

18.30. In exercising its functions under the Act, a licensing authority should take account of the relevant code of practice on ‘controlling where gaming machines may be played’. It is specifically obliged to do so when exercising functions under section 153 of the Act. In circumstances where a licensing authority considers an existing premises is not compliant with these general requirements, they should contact the Commission at the earliest opportunity.

18.31. Both the Commission and licensing authorities have the power to attach specific conditions to operating or premises licences in circumstances where additional assurance is required. The Commission favours the approach of general conditions for all supplemented by operator-specific conditions in cases where novel or contentious operating models are used which include the provision of gaming machines. This is to deliver the policy objectives above and ensure the risk to the licensing objectives is minimised.

18.32. In the Commission’s view the above approach would ideally be adopted at licensing stage. Licensing authorities should ensure that they request all the information required from an applicant for a new premises or for a variation to an existing premises in order to satisfy themselves as to the matters set out at s153 of the Act. This includes the codes of practice and this guidance. The approach of adding case specific conditions can equally be deployed in respect of an existing unit where concerns arise or when changes are made to the operating model.

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Bingo in clubs and alcohol-licensed premises
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