Q: I have noticed a trend for pubs to have the sort of gaming machines more commonly seen in people’s homes available for customers. I have recently seen both the Wii Console and a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (or SNES as we called them back in the ’90s when they first came out). Are there any legal issues on providing these games in my pub? I did notice the customers playing on the SNES were betting on the outcome of the Super Mario Kart games.
A: In principle, you can provide these games in your pub. Games of this nature do include some physical skill, hand-eye co-ordination and competition. However, it would only be an indoor sporting event and, therefore, require a premises licence if the sport was provided for the benefit of an audience, if the audience consists of more than 1,000 people, and if the games are available either before 8am or after 11pm. Outside these hours we can, therefore, conclude that it is not a licensable activity.
Betting does require consideration. A person commits an offence if he uses premises, or causes or permits a premises to be used to provide facilities for betting. No commercial betting is permitted in licensed premises.
If the landlord causes or permits the premises to be used for betting, then an offence is taking place. If customers do bet on the outcome of the games, you should stop them immediately.
Finally, you might want to consider a risk assessment for health and safety purposes, particularly some of the Wii games that involve physical activity, dancing or playing tennis and may need some space around the device to be sure that the games are safely made available to customers