Gambling Commission calls for pub industry to take faster action to prevent under 18s accessing gaming machines in pubs
18 October 2019
A review of pubs in England and Wales has shown that 84% of them are failing to prevent under 18-year-olds from playing Category C gaming machines, also known as fruit machines.
Local authorities have primary responsibility for regulating these machines and businesses are responsible for ensuring that they are compliant in checking age verification. Over the last 12 months the Gambling Commission has worked with local authorities and local police to test compliance with laws in place to protect children from the risks gambling can pose.
Children are not permitted to play Category C gaming machines in pubs. Staff are expected to stop children playing on the machines and there should be clear signage indicating the age restriction.
This follows a test sample taken in 2018 which found that 88% of pubs in England failed to prevent children accessing 18+ gaming machines.
The findings suggest that the rules in place around these machines are still not being appropriately enforced and many employees are still unaware of the restrictions.
Programme Director, Helen Rhodes said: “The pub industry must accelerate action to enforce these rules. Pubs must take age verification on machines as seriously as they do for alcohol sales, and they risk losing their entitlement to offer machines if they do not.
Adding: ‘’The results last year were extremely disappointing and we have supported local authorities in their action to raise standards. This includes working with the providers of training to the pub industry to emphasise the legal requirements in training materials, as well as with the Home Office to work towards including materials on gambling in pubs in the curriculum for the personal licence holder course. The British Beer and Pub Association and UK Hospitality have responded to our call by issuing guidance (opens in new tab) to their members on the importance of enforcing the legal requirements. We urge the pub sector to respond to this opportunity to protect children and young people and to prevent the need for local authorities to take enforcement action.’’
The current pass rate for alcohol sales in pubs is between 70 – 85%.
Note to editors
- The review took place in 170 pubs across England and Wales and found an 84% failure rate.
- The source of the pass rate for alcohol is Serve Legal.
- Category C gaming machines have a maximum stake of £1 and a maximum prize pay-out of £100. Information on gaming machine categories can be found on our website.
- The Gambling Commission does not regulate gaming machines in pubs. Pubs are permitted to site gaming machines as part of its alcohol licence that is granted by local Licensing Authorities (LA). It is the responsibility of LAs to ensure compliance by pubs with the law.
For all media enquiries, please contact the Gambling Commission press office.
Last updated: 22 February 2021
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