Q. I recently received a visit from my local authority enforcement officer who took a look at the gaming machines I have on site. I have since had a letter saying I need to move one of my category C machines so it can be suitably supervised. Can local authorities inspect my gaming machines and do I have to move my machine?
A. The Gambling Act 2005 provides rights of entry and inspection to authorised persons, which includes local authority licensing staff, in respect of premises licensed for alcohol. Section 317 of the Gambling Act 2005 permits an authorised person to:
- Inspect any part of the premises
- Question any person on the premises
- Require access to any written or electronic record that relates to the reason for entry, such as requesting to see a copy of the Licensed Premises Gaming Machine Permit (LPGMP)
- Remove or retain anything if they reasonably believe that it is evidence of an offence being committed under the Gambling Act 2005, or a breach of a term or condition of a licence issued under the act.
The officer will have been in to check that your provision of gaming machines is in compliance with the permissions you have in place (either a notification of making no more than two category C or D machines available for use or, if you have more than two such machines, an LPGMP).
They will have also checked that you are complying with the code of practice for gaming machines in clubs and premises with an alcohol licence’. This document sets out conditions that must be complied with when providing gaming machines as well as good practice areas. The code can be found on the Gambling Commission website. I would advise downloading this document and having it on site.
One of the conditions set out in the code requires that all gaming machines situated on the premises must be located in an area whereby their use can be supervised. This is important as correct supervision will help to prevent under-18s attempting to play on the category C machines. You will need to ensure the machine is located where it can be supervised and that you have arrangements in place for such supervision. If you have an ATM on site, you must also make sure it is not located next to a gaming machine. Position your machine so that a customer must have to stop gambling at the machine in order to use the ATM.
Q. I want to hold bingo nights at my pub leading up to Christmas. Is this something I can do?
A. Provided the premises can meet the requirements set out below, alcohol licensed premises can hold unlicensed bingo as exempt gaming so long as the maximum permitted stake or prize limits is not exceeded.
a) The game of bingo must be played at times when alcohol is being
supplied under the permission of the premises licence issued under the Licensing Act 2003 and the licence must not contain a condition that specifies alcohol can only be served with food
b) You must not charge a participation fee
c) You must not deduct/levy any money from the amount staked or amount won (I.e. all money staked must be returned as prizes)
d) The game cannot be linked to another game at other premises
e) All games are restricted to players of the age of 18 or over
f) A person may not stake more than £5 on any one game
g) The premises must ensure that the aggregate stakes or prizes do not exceed £2,000 in any seven-day period
h) All gaming must be supervised by appropriately trained staff members.
If you host regular bingo, you need to keep careful track of the money being spent in stakes and prizes to ensure the limit is not breached.