Gaming machines: Q&A

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Gaming machines, Gambling, Bookmaker

Gaming machine
Gaming machine
'Can you have a Fixed Odds Betting Terminal (FOBT) in a pub?', and other questions, answered by the Publican Morning Advertiser's legal writers.

Betting shop machines

Q. There has been a great deal of media coverage of ‘FOBT’ gaming machines in betting shops. From what I’ve read they are popular with the punters. Can I have an FOBT gaming machine in my pub?

A. On-licensed premises are able to offer Category D and Category C machines but not FOBT (Fixed Odds Betting Terminal) gaming machines. Under the regulation of the Gambling Act 2005, FOBT gaming machines are Category B2 machines. Pubs can offer the lower stake and prize Category D, for instance the pushers and cranes, as well as the low stake and prize gaming machines, where the maximum cash prize is £5.

There are a number of different stake and prize limits for Category D games depending on whether they are crane machines, and whether prizes are cash or non-money, eg, cuddly toys, key rings, etc.

The Category C gaming machines have a maximum stake of £1 and a maximum prize of £100 and these types of C machines are the most common in pubs. One of the reasons the FOBT or Category B2 gaming machines are so popular is the maximum stake can amount to £100 although the maximum prize is always limited to £500.

A monopoly on games

Q. I’ve recently been approached by our local council licensing officer regarding our Monopoly quiz machine. In addition to this, we have a couple of gaming machines with £100 jackpots. As I understood it, I notified the council that I would have the two gaming machines that could then be made available to customers. The licensing officer has now told me that I may need to apply for a licensed premises gaming machine permit because the Monopoly quiz machine is also a gaming machine. Is he right?

A. No, he isn’t, at least not in the case of the Monopoly quiz game. These types of games such as Monopoly, Eliminator, Pints win Prizes, and indeed other more traditional arcade games such as Pac Man and Space Invaders (am I showing my age?) are not gaming machines for the purposes of the Gambling Act 2005 and do not require authorisation for them to be made available to customers.

The £100 jackpot machines are Category C gaming machines. They do require authorisation and you have correctly obtained that authorisation by notifying the council, and presumably paying a £50 fee, to be able to make them available to the public. Games such as Monopoly are generally called Skill with Prizes or SWP machines. There are a number of features of SWPs, which mean they are not gaming machines.

For instance, if you can win a prize by skill alone, and the outcome of the game does not depend on chance, it would likely be a SWP. Whether a machine is a gaming machine or SWP is an important distinction and would be one made by the manufacturer when the game was first built and made available for sale. If you do need to clarify whether a machine is for gaming or is skill-based, I suggest you speak to your supplier and obtain written confirmation.

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