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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


1 - Definition of a track

20.1. S.353 of the Act defines a track as a horse racecourse, greyhound track or other premises on any part of which a race or other sporting event takes place or is intended to take place.

20.2. The Act does not give a list of premises that are officially recognised as ‘tracks’ but there are a number of venues where sporting events do or could take place, and accordingly could accommodate the provision of betting facilities. Examples of tracks include:

  • a horse racecourse (referred to in this guidance as ‘racecourses’)
  • a greyhound track
  • a point-to-point horserace meeting
  • football, cricket and rugby grounds
  • an athletics stadium
  • a golf course
  • venues hosting darts, bowls, or snooker tournaments
  • a premises staging boxing matches
  • a section of river hosting a fishing competition
  • a motor racing event.

20.3. This list is not exhaustive as, in theory, betting could take place at any venue where a sporting or competitive event is occurring. While many of these venues are not commonly understood to be ‘tracks’, they fall within the definition of ‘track’ in the Act. Licensing authorities may be of the view that they have few tracks in their area, but the definition in the Act means that most licensing authorities are likely to have venues that could be classified as a track for betting purposes.

20.4. The Act also provides for tracks which do not currently offer betting facilities but may elect to do so at some stage in the future. This means that land which has a number of uses, one of which fulfils the definition of a track, could qualify for a premises licence. Examples could include agricultural land upon which a point-to-point meeting takes place or a theatre, arena or exhibition centre where sporting events such as darts or snooker competitions are held. Under the Act, these may all be classified as tracks.

20.5. The Act does not define what constitutes a sporting event or race and licensing authorities will need to decide this on a case by case basis. The Commission is aware of some instances of the apparent misuse of occasional use notices (OUNs). 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, examples include the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National meeting. Whilst we have not introduced a new licence condition limiting the betting to the outcomes of a race, competition or other sporting event taking place at the track in question whilst the OUN is in force, the situation is being kept under review. Further details can be found in Part 15 of this guidance.

20.6. If an individual or company wants to offer betting facilities on a sporting event then different forms of ‘approval’ are available, one of which must be obtained if betting is to be provided, irrespective of whether the betting is generally incidental to the main sporting activity. The different types of approval for the provision of betting facilities at premises are:

  • a premises licence
  • an occasional use notice.
Next section
Track premises licences – differences from other premises licences
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