Legal Q&A: Licensing advice on gaming machines in pubs

Licensing hub: PopAl advice on gaming machines in pubs (Credit:Getty/SolStock)
Licensing hub: PopAl advice on gaming machines in pubs (Credit:Getty/SolStock)

Related tags Entertainment Licensing Legislation

Licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen has answered operators' questions around gaming machines in pubs.

Firstly, what is a gaming machine?

Gaming machines are often referred to as ‘fruit machines’ or ‘amusement with prize machines’, popularly referred to ‘AWP’ machines. Gaming machines also include family friendly style machines such as crane grabbers and coin pushers often seen in arcade premises.

Machines such as quiz games which rely on the knowledge and skill of the player would not usually be categorised as a gaming machine.

Can I have gaming machines in my pub?

All premises with a premises licence granted under the Licensing Act 2003 which permits the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises and contain a bar at which alcohol is served, without the requirement that alcohol is served only with food, can make gaming machines available for use. This is known as the ‘automatic entitlement’.

Any premises which satisfies the above is automatically entitled to provide up to two category C and/ or D gaming machines for use on the premises.

What are category C and D gaming machines?

Category C machines have a maximum stake of £1 and a maximum prize of £100. Category D machines have various stake and prize limits depending on the machine type, these range from a stake of 10p to maximum prize value of £50.

Age restrictions of category C gaming machines are 18+ only, such machines must be supervised to prevent underage use. Local Authorities may conduct test purchases on your premises to ensure you are compliant.

The most common types of category D gaming machines such as crane grabbers, coin pushers and other non-complex machines are not age restricted. The previous Government proposed that category D ‘slot style’ machines will become 18+ only, however this proposal is subject to legal change which could be delayed by the next Government.

More detailed information on the breakdown of categories of gaming machines can be found here.

How do I benefit from the automatic entitlement?

The Premises Licence Holder must write to the Licensing Authority notifying them that the machines will be provided for use on the premises, there is a fee of £50. The automatic entitlement remains in force for the duration of the alcohol premises licence and there is no annual fee payable.

Note that if you transfer your premises licence, or a premises licence is transferred to you, the notification will not transfer over. The notification process and fee must be repeated for the new licensee.

What if I want more than two category C and/or D gaming machines?

If you want more than two category C and/ or D gaming machines, you must make an application to the Licensing Authority for a Licensed Premises Gaming Machine permit, commonly referred to as a ‘LPGMP’.

A LPGMP allows a specified number of category C and/or D gaming machines within the licensed area of your alcohol premises licence. In theory, any number of machines can be applied for under this type of permit. 

In your application, you must stipulate the number of category C and/or D gaming machines you wish to make available on the premises. Applications for higher numbers of machines may result in a hearing before the Licensing Committee. At a hearing the Licensing Committee are likely to want to discuss concerns such as the supervision of machines and how you will protect children from harm from gambling. 

I have a Licensed Premises Gaming Machine Permit, can I vary or transfer it?

Yes and yes.

A LPGMP can be varied, for example if you wish to increase or decrease the number of category C and/or D gaming machines. Unlike the automatic entitlement, a LPGMP can also be transferred if the alcohol premises licence is transferred.

Can someone inspect my gaming machines?

Yes. The Gambling Act provides a right of entry and inspection to an authorised persons in respect of premises licensed for the sale of alcohol. An authorised person may inspect any part of the premises or machine, question any person on the premises, require access to written or electronic records or remove or retain anything if they reasonably believe that it is evidence of an offence being committed under the Gambling Act, or a breach of a term or condition of a licence issued under the Gambling Act.

The authorised person may check that your provision of gaming machines is in compliance with the permissions you have in place. They may also check that you are complying with the Code of Practice for gaming machines in clubs and premises with an alcohol licence.

What is the Code of Practice for gaming machines in clubs and premises with an alcohol licence?

The Code of Practice on gaming machines in licensed premises is issued by the Gambling Commission.

The Code places conditions on the provision of gaming machines in licensed premises. Requirements of the Code include that gaming machines must be located in such a position that their use can be supervised and that they are not near to any cash machine. More detail can be found here.

If you would assistance utilising the automatic entitled or applying for a LPGMP please contact one of our gambling solicitors, we would be more than happy to help.

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