Pubs will be affected by changes to the gaming law
by David Clifton of thePublican.com's legal team of experts from London solicitors Joelson Wilson.
According to recent government statistics, currently in Great Britain there are 192,700 gaming machines (discounting lower-value coin or token machines).
Of these, 26,400 are jackpot machines of the type found in casinos, registered clubs and in some bingo clubs. The remaining 166,300 are all-cash AWP machines. Nearly half of those (74,700) are found in pubs and other premises licensed for the sale of alcohol - with an average of 1.3 per pub.
I say this because a number of people have asked me recently if the law relating to gaming machines is about to change. They have had two things in mind.
Firstly the government has indicated that it will accept the Gambling Review Body's recommendation that a new licensing framework for gaming machines be established, with such machines redefined and split into four categories as follows:
- Category A - Casino slots: unlimited stakes and prizes in casinos only.
Category B - Jackpot machines: maximum stake £1 and maximum prize £500 in a bingo club, betting shop or adult gaming centre or £250 in a registered club.
Category C - Adult gaming machines: maximum stake 50p and maximum prize £25 in bingo clubs, betting shops, adult gaming centres, adult-only areas of family entertainment centres, pubs and other premises with an alcohol on-licence.
Category D - AWPs: maximum stake 10p (or 30p in the case of machines that do not pay out prizes in money or exchangeable tokens) and maximum (cash or non-cash) prize £5 in family entertainment centres and outlets such as cafés, fish and chip shops, food takeaways, taxicab offices etc.
However, we await a new Gambling Bill - probably to be mentioned in the Queen's Speech towards the end of this year - before any progress is made towards achieving this change.
Secondly, on March 13 the government announced intended changes to the law that will take place sooner than in the Gambling Bill, relating to the ways in which money can be paid into and out of adult-only AWPs and jackpot gaming machines, allowing more flexibility for customers and for operators. However, these changes would not affect lower-value AWP machines.
Use of smartcards and retention of winnings for further play is to be allowed for jackpot machines. However, the changes will achieve the following in relation to all-cash higher-value AWP machines of the type seen in pubs:
- allow players to use banknotes and allow machines to pay out in notes and coins
- dispense with the requirement that the machine be able to accept payment for a single game.