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Guidance to licensing authorities

Our guidance for licensing authorities.


7 - Machines other than gaming machines in gambling premises

Automated roulette

16.27 There are two types of automated casino equipment that are excluded from the definition of a gaming machine in the Act. The first type is those linked to a live game of chance, for example, roulette. These enable the player to gamble on a live game as it happens, without actually being seated at the table, sometimes referred to as ‘electronic roulette’. These are not regulated as gaming machines but as live gaming and there is no limit on the number of items of such equipment.

16.28 The second type is a machine that plays a live game but is fully automated, that is, it operates without any human intervention. For example, a roulette wheel that is electrically or mechanically operated with an air blower to propel the ball around the wheel. Again, these are not regulated as gaming machines, although casinos are bound by controls on the specification and number of player positions using such equipment. This is only the case where the machine is operated in accordance with a casino operating licence – if operated outside of a casino, the exclusion does not apply and it would be considered a gaming machine. The Act requires that equipment used to play a game of chance, for example, cards, dice and roulette wheels is ‘real’ and not ‘virtual’ if it is not to be classed as a gaming machine. Additionally the game outcome must not be determined by computer as this would normally be considered virtual.

Self-service betting terminals (SSBTs)

16.29 S.235(2)(c) provides that a machine is not a gaming machine by reason only of the fact that it is designed or adapted for use to bet on future real events. Some betting premises may make available for use machines that accept bets on live events, such as a sporting event, as a substitute for placing a bet over the counter. These SSBTs are not gaming machines and therefore neither count towards the maximum permitted number of gaming machines, nor have to comply with any stake or prize limits. Such betting machines merely replicate and automate the process that can be conducted in person, and therefore do not require regulation as gaming machines. S.181 of the Act contains an express power for licensing authorities to restrict the number of SSBTs, their nature and the circumstances in which they are made available, by attaching a licence condition to a betting premises licence or to a casino premises licence (where betting is permitted in the casino). Part 19 of this guidance provides further details.

Skill games

16.30 The Act does not cover machines that give prizes as a result of the application of skill by players. A skill with prizes machine (SWP) is one in which the winning of a prize is determined only by the player’s skill – any element of chance imparted by the action of the machine would cause it to be a gaming machine. An example of a skill game would be trivia game machines, popular in pubs and clubs, which require the player to answer general knowledge questions to win cash prizes. Many FECs have games that give prizes by redemption of tickets accumulated. Providing these machines give prizes according to the skill of the player, for example getting a high score shooting basketball, they will be exempt.

16.31 Genuine SWPs can be sited without permissions. However, the Commission considers that the higher the payout offered by this type of machine, the less likely the machine will be viable as a genuine skill machine simply because of the risk that very skilful players will win the top prize too frequently, making the machine commercially unviable. The Commission has published advice on how to distinguish between these machines and gaming machines in Is a prize machine a gaming machine? and a quick guide on illegal gaming machines (the advice note and quick guide do not form part of the Guidance to licensing authorities).

Lottery ticket vending machines

16.32 Lottery ticket vending machines are generally used to dispense ‘instant win’ lottery tickets, usually scratch cards or ‘pull tab’ tickets in society lotteries and they are mostly prevalent in private society lotteries. The Act defines a private society as ‘any group or society established for a purpose not connected with gambling’. Typically a private society, such as a sports or social club, will promote a lottery and make lottery tickets available to members of the society or those on the premises of the society as part of a ‘private society lottery’. Some societies buy or rent vending machines to dispense their lottery tickets.

16.33 Such machines are often supplied by licensed gaming machine suppliers but the operation and/or design of the machine must not constitute a gaming machine. Advice on the distinction between lottery ticket vending machines and gaming machines is available in the Commission’s Comparing lottery ticket dispensers and category B3A gaming machines’ a quick guide for licensing officers (this quick guide does not form part of the Guidance to licensing authorities).

16.34 Those who supply, manufacture and/or site lottery ticket vending machines are not required to hold an operating or premises licence or any other permission. Where a lottery ticket vending machine is used to dispense society or private society lottery tickets it is the responsibility of the promoter of the lottery to ensure that it is operated lawfully and the required information displayed on the dispensed tickets.

Other exclusions

16.35 S.235(2) of the Act sets out a number of exclusions, covering machines that are not considered gaming machines, even though gambling may take place on them, as follows:

  • a domestic or dual use computer is not a gaming machine just because it can be used to take part in remote gambling. Regulations define a ‘domestic computer’ as one capable of being used for a purpose not related to gambling that is located in a private dwelling and used only on domestic occasions. A ‘dual use computer’ is also defined as having to be capable of being used for a purpose not related to gambling, but in addition must not be knowingly adapted or presented in such a way as to facilitate or draw attention to the possibility of its use for gambling (SI2007/2082: The Gambling Act 2005 (Gaming Machines)(Definitions) Regulations 2007 (opens in new tab)).
  • a telephone or other ‘machine facilitating communication’ that could be used for gambling purposes, for example, a mobile phone via which text message based lotteries can be entered, is not considered to be a gaming machine unless that is its primary purpose. Ordinary mobile phones are therefore exempt from the definition, but telephones designed or adapted for the purpose of enabling gambling would not be.
  • some machines that allow the purchase of lottery tickets are not gaming machines. However, this is intended as an exemption for the sale of tickets in a real lottery with other participants (for example a lottery vending machine), and not a virtual scratchcard lottery conducted only by means of the machine. This means, first, that if the results of the lottery are determined by the machine, the machine is not exempt; and, second, if the machine announces the results of the lottery (determined otherwise than by the machine) by display or communication then the interval between the sale of the ticket and the announcement of the result must comply with the minimum period of time specified by regulations (SI20072495: The Gambling (Lottery Machine Interval) Order 2007 (opens in new tab)). B3A machines are defined as a lottery style gaming machine and permitted under regulations within members’ clubs and miners’ welfare institutes in limited numbers.
  • a machine operated by virtue of a bingo operating licence for the purpose of playing bingo will be exempt provided it complies with any conditions set by the Commission. This covers what are known as mechanised cash bingo and electronic bingo ticket minders.
  • also exempted are machines used for the playing of bingo by way of prize gaming in AGCs and FECs, however, the prize gaming regulations must be complied with.
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