Cookies on the Gambling Commission website

The Gambling Commission website uses cookies to make the site work better for you. Some of these cookies are essential to how the site functions and others are optional. Optional cookies help us remember your settings, measure your use of the site and personalise how we communicate with you. Any data collected is anonymised and we do not set optional cookies unless you consent.

Set cookie preferences

You've accepted all cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

Skip to main content


Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


9 - Applications

Defining the premises

20.43. S.151 of the Act requires applicants for premises licences to submit plans of the premises with their application. This ensures that licensing authorities have the necessary information to make an informed judgement about whether the premises are fit for gambling. The plan also informs future premises inspection activity.

20.44. Plans for tracks need not be in a particular scale, but should be drawn to scale and should be sufficiently detailed to include the information required by regulations.

20.45. In the majority of cases, such as greyhound tracks, racecourses, football stadia and cricket grounds, defining the extent of boundaries may be assisted by reference to existing plans already submitted to obtain other permissions. These could include:

  • the obtaining of a safety certificate under Safety at Sports Ground legislation (this applies in respect of sports grounds with capacity to accommodate more than 10,000 spectators)
  • the historic boundaries under previous legislation such as, the approval of tracks under Schedule 3 of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 (opens in new tab).

20.46. It is sometimes difficult to define the precise location of betting areas on tracks. The precise location of where betting facilities are provided is not required to be shown on track plans, both by virtue of the fact that betting is permitted anywhere on the premises and because of the difficulties associated with pin-pointing exact locations for some types of track. Licensing authorities should satisfy themselves that the plan provides sufficient information to enable them to assess an application.

20.47. As the plan forms part of the licence document, it also needs to be sufficiently flexible to ensure that a relatively small change in the premises layout would not require an operator to submit an application to vary the track premises licence. Only a significant change to the track layout would require a licence variation. For example, moving a category C gaming machine from one end of a bar that had been marked on the plan as a gaming machine area to another may not necessitate a full variation to a tracks premises licence, nor would the establishment of a new betting area at a race track, as neither of these events have any impact on the purpose of the licence or the conditions attached to it. However, relocating category C machines to entirely different parts of a track would generally need to be the subject of an application to vary the premises licence.

Ensuring that premises are fit for the provision of gambling facilities

20.48. Licensing authorities are required to ensure that premises are fit for a specific type of gambling. Premises which meet the conditions required to operate as, for example, a casino may not meet the requirements for offering track betting facilities.

Access to premises and other parts of the track

20.49. S.152 of the Act provides that premises may not have more than one premises licence authorising a type of activity, with the exception of track premises, whereby a track may be the subject of multiple premises licences.

20.50. Access between premises licensed for gambling and non-gambling areas is an important local licensing consideration, for reasons such as the following:

  • to prevent operators from seeking to circumvent the Act by artificially subdividing a premises and securing separate premises licences for its composite parts
  • to ensure that operators do not circumvent regulations governing the maximum number of gaming machines applicable to specific premises
  • to ensure that people who have entered a premises for one type of gambling are not exposed to another, potentially harder, form of gambling
  • to ensure that there is no direct access between gambling premises to which children have access and those which they are prohibited from entering
  • to ensure that all gambling premises have publicly accessible entrances
  • to ensure that gambling premises are not developed in the backrooms of other commercial premises.

20.51. As tracks may be the subject of multiple premises licences, regulations (SI 2007/1409: Gambling Act 2005 (Mandatory and Default Conditions) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 (opens in new tab) and SSI 2007/266: Gambling Act 2005 (Mandatory and Default Conditions) (Scotland) Regulations 2007 (opens in new tab)) have been laid to stipulate the access requirements between gambling premises, and when entering or leaving gambling premises. By virtue of the regulations no direct access is allowed from a track to a casino or adult gaming centre. Therefore if, for example, a casino is built on a track premises that is the subject of a track premises licence, clearly defined public thoroughfares should be in place to ensure that customers have to leave one gambling premises, and be aware they have done so, before entering another.

Access by children – special dispensation for tracks

20.52. Persons under 18 years old are not permitted to enter premises when betting facilities are being provided, other than at tracks. This dispensation allows families to attend premises such as greyhound tracks or racecourses on event days, and children to be permitted into areas where betting facilities are provided, such as the ‘betting ring’, where betting takes place.

20.53. Licensing authorities should note however that the exemption allowing children access to betting areas on tracks does not extend to areas within a track where category C or above machines are provided, or other premises to which under 18 year olds are specifically not permitted access. For example, where betting facilities are provided through a self-contained betting office on a track which has a separate betting premises licence, the betting operator of the self-contained premises is required to exclude under-18s from their premises.

20.54. The Act creates offences relating to gambling by children and young people and the operating licence conditions require operators to have policies and procedures in place to prevent betting from persons who are under 18 years old. As under-18s are permitted to enter betting areas on tracks on event days, this needs to include policies and procedures to mitigate the likelihood of underage betting occurring. The track premises licence holder is also required to display a notice in a prominent place at every public entrance stating that no person under the age of 18 is permitted to bet on the premises.

20.55. Licensing authorities should be aware that there is an anomaly in the Act, wholly prohibiting the employment of children and young people on tracks.

Multiple licences

20.56. S.152(3) of the Act permits the issuance of more than one premises licence for a track provided that each licence relates to a distinct specified area of the track. There cannot be more than one premises licence covering the same area of the track.

20.57. This enables track owners to extend existing facilities to provide other gambling facilities, such as a casino, on their existing tracks. In such a case, the licensing authority will need to consider access issues as direct access between a track and other betting premises (other than a track betting shop) is not permitted. Access for casino and bingo is dealt with in Part 17 of this guidance and Part 18 of this guidance.

20.58. Where a particular area of a track is already subject to a premises licence, and a person wishes to apply for a licence to offer another type of activity in that area, an application must be made to the issuing licensing authority to vary the original premises licence, under s.187of the Act. The new track premises licence can only be granted at the same time as, or after, the original licence has been varied.

20.59. Licensing authorities may receive applications indicating separate betting areas that may not necessarily have clear physical boundaries, such as walls or fencing. Such areas could still be the subject of a separate betting premises licence provided the area is clearly delineated, both in terms of making it clear to the public that they are entering a ‘betting office’, and to keep out persons aged under 18. Customers should be aware that they are entering separate betting premises subject to its own licence conditions in respect of underage access and alcohol for example. The delineation of such an area is best achieved through a physical barrier. A licensing authority concerned that such an area cannot be satisfactorily delineated may wish to refuse an application for a separate betting premises licence.

20.60. Conditions applicable to off-track betting premises also apply to self-contained betting premises on tracks that are the subject of their own betting premises licence, which entitles the self-contained premises to offer up to four gaming machines (from categories B2 to D).

20.61. Track owners should decide in conjunction with the betting operators offering facilities at their track which premises licensing arrangement best suits the specific nature and circumstances of their track.

Previous section
Self-service betting terminals (SSBTs)
Next section
Licence conditions and requirements
Is this page useful?
Back to top