Call for pubs to take age verification as seriously for gaming machines as they do for alcohol sales

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Nudge, nudge: many pubs are failing to prevent children using fruit machines illegally
Nudge, nudge: many pubs are failing to prevent children using fruit machines illegally

Related tags: Licensing, Public house, Beer, Gambling

Over the recent weeks and months, we have noticed an increase in both industry and local/national media reports regarding gaming machines in pubs and test purchasing.

In late 2019, the Gambling Commission released details of test purchases conducted in 170 pubs in England and Wales. The results showed 84% of the premises were failing to prevent under 18-year-olds from playing Category C gaming machines (it is illegal to allow anyone under the age of 18 to play Category C machines even if they are accompanied by an adult).

This is in stark contrast to the pass rate for alcohol sales that, according to the Gambling Commission article at the time of the publication, was between 70% and 85%.

We should expect to see a heightened level of scrutiny in premises regarding gaming machines and age verification following the Gambling Commission’s call for action by pubs to take age verification as seriously for gaming machines as they do for alcohol sales.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), in conjunction with UK Hospitality (UKH), has published guidance to their members for tackling underage gambling in pubs.

The guidance takes the form of a Social Responsibility Charter for Gaming Machines in Pubs and its key principles are:

  • To collaborate across the pub sector and with other industry stakeholders
  • To ensure pub staff understand and meet their legal responsibilities
  • To co-operate with regulatory enforcement bodies
  • To engage and work with the Gambling Commission
  • Support the work undertaken by GambleAware

Within the charter, there is a code of practice that contains steps premises can take, including details on training, messaging, information requirements and supervision of the gaming machines.

We recommend having a copy of the Gambling Commission’s Code ofpractice for gaming machines in clubsand premises with an alcohol licence ​to hand at your premises. This sets out the conditions you must comply with regarding the location and operation of your machines as well as good practice points that the Gambling Commission considers should be implemented.

Now is good time to think about age verification and your machines, bearing in mind that failure to prevent underage gambling can result in local authorities taking action and, in the worst-case scenario, removing any gaming machine entitlements.

For any legal enquiries please visit Poppleston Allen's website​.

Related topics: Licensing law

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