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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


10 - Licence conditions and requirements

The role of track premises licence holders

20.62. Since September 2012 on-course bookmakers have entered into licences with racecourses regarding the allocation of betting positions. The responsibilities of track premises licence holders are established by the mandatory and default licence conditions attaching to their premises licence. The licensed betting operators authorised by track owners to provide betting facilities at tracks must comply with their operating licence conditions and codes of practice issued by the Commission.

Acceptance of bets

20.63. Under s.33(2) of the Act, only licensed betting operators may accept bets or provide facilities for gambling. The Commission is responsible for issuing betting operating licences, and each betting operator must comply with the conditions of their operating licence. The Commission can invoke penalties or revoke licences if they fail to do so.

Pool betting

20.64. By virtue of s.179 of the Act, a track premises licence may only authorise the acceptance of bets by way of pool betting on horseracing or dog racing, and if the bets are accepted by the holder of the track premises licence or in accordance with arrangements made by him. Additionally, pool betting on a licensed greyhound track will only be permitted while the public are admitted to the track for the purpose of attending greyhound races, and no other sporting events are taking place. A mandatory condition is attached to the premises licence to this effect (SI 2007/1409: Gambling Act 2005 (Mandatory and Default Conditions) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 (opens in new tab), Schedule 6(3)(1)).

Admission of betting operators

20.65. It is a mandatory premises licence condition of track premises licences that the licence holder makes arrangements to ensure that the betting operators they admit to their track operate under valid operating licences.

20.66. Track premises licence holders, or their appointees, are therefore responsible for identifying and admitting those providing facilities for betting to operate on-course. This means both betting operating licence holders themselves and persons ‘employed by the licensee under a written contract of employment’ (Section 92 of the Act).

20.67. Track premises licence holders are responsible for determining their own arrangements for the verification of betting operators. As part of this process, the track premises licence holder should make arrangements for ensuring that the betting operator holds an operating licence.

20.68. There are special regulatory arrangements in place which mean that not all employees need to be listed on the licence, referred to as Schedule Y arrangements (Schedule Y operator is an employee whose details have been provided to the Commission as authorised by the licensee to accept bets on their behalf otherwise than under the supervision of a qualified person on the same track). This means that bookmakers’ assistants - such as computer operators and floormen - do not need to appear on the operator’s licence. This light touch regulatory position allows for existing arrangements for supervision.

20.69. In instances where an operator holds more than one betting position at a track, they can staff their subsequent positions with non-licensed employees as long as those betting positions are networked to the first pitch and the operator or a Schedule Y representative is in attendance at the track and operating the primary pitch. In this situation the licensee or Schedule Y representative is responsible for all actions carried out by employees on the pitches that he is not physically standing on.

20.70. Licensing authorities should be aware that, as track premises licence holders are required through mandatory licence conditions to make arrangements for identifying and admitting only valid betting operating licence holders to offer betting on-track, different arrangements may be in place at different tracks to achieve this. Licensing authorities are advised to make themselves aware of the processes used by tracks that they license in their localities.

Removal of illegal betting operators

20.71. Track premises licence holders are required by a mandatory licence condition to take reasonable steps to remove from the racecourse anybody found to be providing facilities for gambling without authorisation - in effect illegal bookmakers. This could include someone claiming to be a representative of a licensed betting operator who has been unable to prove their identity to the track premises licensee. Failure to uphold this requirement could result in action being taken against the premises licence holder.

20.72. Track premises licence holders should have policies and procedures for identifying illegal gambling in addition to the mandatory requirement to verify that betting operators offering betting facilities on their track hold suitable operating licences.

Display of rules

20.73. It is a mandatory condition of premises licences that clear and accessible information about the terms on which a bet may be placed must be displayed at betting premises, including tracks. The terms or rules of betting is a consideration of the Commission in respect of the licensing of betting operators.

20.74. There are often multiple locations of betting on a track. For instance, on a large racecourse there may be a number of betting rings and pool betting outlets and at least one betting shop, while at a football ground there could be several betting booths located throughout the various stadium concourses.

20.75. It may be considered disproportionate and unnecessary to insist that betting rules are displayed at each distinct betting location; rather, the rules should be made available at suitable central locations. The track premises licence holder should make the necessary arrangements to ensure that betting rules are accessible to all customers, regardless of which area of the track they are in. If certain areas are restricted to certain customers (such as different stands within a football ground) then rules could be displayed at various parts of the track. Other measures could be taken to ensure that they are made available to the public, such as printing them in the race-card or programme. The requirement could also be met by making a copy of the rules available in leaflet form from the main track office, and customers could be given a copy if they request one.

20.76. As track premises licence holders do not necessarily provide betting facilities themselves (unless they hold a pool betting licence), they do not have their own set of betting rules to apply. In such cases, the licence holder should make it clear that the operator’s betting rules will apply. At horserace meetings, for example, betting operators generally abide by Tattersall’s Rules on Betting (opens in new tab), and as such the premises licence holder should make this clear to customers. At a sports stadium where betting facilities are provided by a high street operator, the track licence holder may choose to state on the centrally provided notice that the rules followed by the betting operator will apply throughout the track.

20.77. Betting operators offering betting facilities on racecourses and at greyhound tracks are required through the conditions of their operating licence to clearly display any of their own rules that differ from those that the track premises licence holder elects to display, and their rules concerning voids, late bets, and maximum pay-outs. Track premises licence holders are expected to refer customers to the rules of individual on-course betting operators who are required to display this information on their stands (often referred to as ‘bookmaker joints’).

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