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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


2 - Premises

7.3. In accordance with s.150 of the Act, premises licences can authorise the provision of facilities on:

  • a) casino premises
  • b) bingo premises
  • c) betting premises, including tracks and premises used by betting intermediaries
  • d) adult gaming centre (AGC) premises (for category B3, B4, C and D machines)
  • e) family entertainment centre (FEC) premises (for category C and D machines) – the licensing authority may issue a FEC gaming machine permit, which authorises the use of category D machines only.

7.4. By distinguishing between premises types, the Act makes it clear that the gambling activity of the premises should be linked to the premises described. Thus, in a bingo premises, the gambling activity should be bingo, with gaming machines as an ancillary offer on the premises. This principle also applies to existing casino licences (but not to licences granted under the Gambling Act 2005 (opens in new tab)) and betting premises licences. The Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) sets out in full the requirements on operators. Subject to the gaming machine entitlements which various types of licence bring with them (except in the case of tracks), the Act does not permit premises to be licensed for more than one of the above activities.

Meaning of premises

7.5. In the Act, ‘premises’ is defined as including ‘any place’. S.152 therefore prevents more than one premises licence applying to any place. But there is no reason in principle why a single building could not be subject to more than one premises licence, provided they are for different parts of the building, and the different parts of the building can reasonably be regarded as being different premises. This approach has been taken to allow large, multiple unit premises such as pleasure parks, tracks, or shopping malls to obtain discrete premises licences, where appropriate safeguards are in place. However, licensing authorities should pay particular attention if there are issues about sub-division of a single building or plot and should ensure that mandatory conditions relating to access between premises are observed.

7.6. In most cases the expectation is that a single building or plot will be the subject of an application for a licence, for example, 32 High Street. But that does not mean that 32 High Street cannot be the subject of separate premises licences for the basement and ground floor, if they are configured acceptably. Whether different parts of a building can properly be regarded as being separate premises will depend on the circumstances. The location of the premises will clearly be an important consideration and the suitability of the division is likely to be a matter for discussion between the operator and the licensing authority.

7.7. The Commission does not consider that areas of a building that are artificially or temporarily separated, for example by ropes or moveable partitions, can properly be regarded as different premises. If a premises is located within a wider venue, a licensing authority should request a plan of the venue on which the premises should be identified as a separate unit.

7.8. The Commission recognises that different configurations may be appropriate under different circumstances, but the crux of the matter is whether the proposed premises are genuinely separate premises that merit their own licence – with the machine entitlements that brings – and are not an artificially created part of what is readily identifiable as a single premises.

7.9. The Act sets out that the type and number of higher stake gaming machines allowable in premises is restricted according to the type of premises licence or permit granted. For example, a converted casino licence allows for 20 gaming machines in categories B, C or D. With the exception of AGCs and FECs, premises are not permitted to be used exclusively for making gaming machines available, but rather to provide the gaming facilities corresponding to the premises licence type. Further detail on gaming machines is set out in Part 16 of this guidance.

7.10. The Act states that an application must be made to a licensing authority in whose area the premises are wholly or partly situated. In circumstances where the premises lie in more than one licensing authority’s area, the operator should make their application to just one of those authorities. As both licensing authorities are responsible authorities under s.157 of the Act, the other licensing authority must be notified of the application and is entitled to make representations. As a responsible authority, it has an opportunity to pass relevant information about the premises to the licensing authority determining the application. Further detail on responsible authorities is set out at Part 8 of this guidance.

7.11. Casino premises are subject to separate regulations, involving a two-stage application process. Details of the two stage process can be found in Part 17 of this guidance.


7.12. The Act permits premises licences to be granted for passenger vessels. Separate application forms are prescribed for vessels under the Premises Licences and Provisional Statements Regulations (SI 2007/459 or SSI 2007/196). The definition of a vessel in s.353(1) of the Act is:

  • anything (other than a seaplane or amphibious vehicle) designed or adapted for use on water
  • a hovercraft
  • anything, or part of any place, situated on or in water.

7.13. This last part of the definition should be given a normal and sensible interpretation. Structures which are an extension of the land are not vessels, even if they arch over water. Thus, neither a pier nor a bridge is to be considered a vessel and they remain premises under the Act. This is important because not all forms of permit are available to vessels.

7.14. The Act allows pleasure boats to apply for premises licences. As with multi-purpose buildings, the part of the vessel where gambling takes place will be licensed and the usual restrictions on access for children will apply. The Act applies in relation to a vessel that is not permanently moored or berthed, as if it were premises situated in a place where it is usually moored or berthed. The relevant licensing authority for considering an application for a premises licence in respect of a vessel is the authority for the area in which it is usually moored or berthed.

7.15. Where a premises licence is sought in connection with a vessel which will be navigated while licensable activities take place, the licensing authority should be concerned with the promotion of the licensing objectives on board the vessel. It should not focus on matters relating to safe navigation or operation of the vessel, the general safety of passengers or emergency provision, all of which are subject to regulations which must be met before the vessel is issued with its Passenger Certificate and Safety Management Certificate.

7.16. Licences are not required for gambling if it takes place aboard a vessel engaged on an international journey. Such gambling is exempted from the offences under the Act if the vessel is on a journey which has taken it, or is intended to take it, into international waters (so this includes cross-channel ferries). In the case of aircraft, no offence takes place if the gambling takes place in international airspace.

7.17. This means that licensing authorities will have jurisdiction over gambling conducted on vessels on all inland waterways, at permanent moorings, and on all aircraft on the ground or in domestic airspace. If an ocean-going vessel is involved, authorities will need to establish where the vessel has been, or is intending to go.


7.18. Vehicles (trains, road vehicles, aircraft, sea planes and amphibious vehicles, other than a hovercraft) may not be the subject of a premises licence and therefore all forms of commercial betting and gaming will be unlawful in a vehicle in Great Britain. Certain allowances are made for private and non-commercial gaming or betting to take place in a vehicle, but these are subject to a number of stringent requirements. These ensure that, at no point, can the gambling become a commercial activity.

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