Legal advice: Gaming machine permits

Related tags Local authority Gambling commission Gambling in the united kingdom Slot machine

THE DEPARTMENT for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has recently confirmed that pubs holding existing gaming machine permits with expiry dates after...

THE DEPARTMENT for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has recently confirmed that pubs holding existing gaming machine permits with expiry dates after September 1 will not be liable for the annual fees under the Gambling Act 2005 until those permits are to be renewed.

Meanwhile, press coverage has served to highlight that some confusion remains in the industry about what will happen to S34 permits when the new legislation comes into force.

If you have a permit that expires on or before August 31 this year, or if you need a new permit to cover you until the new legislation comes in, you should continue to apply to your local authority in the usual way - and the usual fee of £32 will apply.

For those with permits with an expiry date falling on or after Sept-ember 1, there is no need to take any action yet. However, it is extremely important to remember to act before that expiry date comes around.

What to do

If your permit authorises you to have one or two machines and you don't wish to offer any more than this, all you need do is write to your local authority before the expiry date on your existing permit notifying it of your intention to make one or two gaming machines (Category C or D) available in your pub, in accordance with your automatic entitlement. There is a fee of £50 payable and you need only carry out this notification once, unless and until circumstances change.

For those with a permit authorising three or more machines - unless you wish to reduce this to one or two - you will need to apply to your local authority for a licensed premises gaming machine permit. For existing operators the fee will be £100, for new operators, £150. The permit will be of unlimited duration and you will only have to apply again if circumstances change.

Applicants will be guaranteed grandfather rights (the right to carry on offering the number of machines authorised by their current permit) providing they apply before their current permit expires. They will also qualify for continuation rights in that they will be able to continue to offer those gaming machines even if their application is not determined before the expiry of their existing permit.

Holders of a licensed premises gaming machine permit will have to pay an annual fee of £50. Generally speaking, the first annual fee will fall due 30 days after the permit is issued, although if the permit does not come into force until some time after its issue, the first annual fee will not fall due until 30 days after the date the permit actually takes effect.

The DCMS has confirmed, as stated above, that application fees and annual fees under the new regime will not bite until the permit under the existing legislation expires. This is welcome news, as otherwise operators would find themselves in the slightly odd position of having to pay for the administration costs of a system of which they are not yet even a part.

Compiling the application

Further information about the details that must be submitted with an application for a permit may be found on the DCMS website or by speaking to your local authority.

If you do not attach all the required information to your application, the authority must give you at least 14 days to supply that information. If you fail to do so within the specified time, then any continuation rights will be lost. However, the authority will still be obliged to grant the 'grandfathered' permit for the existing number of machines once the information is supplied.

Operators wishing to increase their number of machines should bear in mind that grandfather rights only apply to the number of machines they have already - but that everyone can benefit from the automatic entitlement to two machines.

Applications for additional machines will be considered on their merits but, for example, an operator who currently has one machine and who applies for four will be entitled automatically to have two even if his application for additional machines is ref-used. Likewise, an operator of five machines who applies for seven and has his application refused will still be entitled under grandfather rights to the five machines he started with.

From September 1 anyone offering gaming machines on alcohol licensed premises will be obliged to adhere to the relevant Gambling Commission code of practice, issued in June and available on its website -

Edited by Joelson Wilson & Co. Joelson Wilson & Co specialise in all aspects of legal work covering liquor, entertainment, betting and gaming. The firm also offers advice on litigious matters, acquisitions and disposals and management agreements. The views expressed are given without any assumption of responsibility.

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