Gaming machine licence

Gaming machines provide games of chance where the prizes awarded are in money or money's worth. Gaming machines, commonly known as fruit machines, are often reel-based, though increasingly use advanced based software and digital displays.

The Gambling Act 2005 regulates the provision of all gambling in Britain including the provision of gaming machines.

The majority of operators offering gaming machines will need an operating licence from the Gambling Commission and a premises licence from the Licensing Authority.

Categories of gaming machines

The Act defines four classes of gaming machine, categories A, B, C and D, with category B divided into a further five subcategories. The four classes have been defined according to the maximum amount that can be paid for playing the machine and the maximum prize it can deliver, as summarised in this table:

Gaming machine categories
Category of Machine Maximum Stake  Maximum Prize

A

Unlimited

 Unlimited

B1

£2

£4000

B2

£100 (9 in multiples of £10)

£500

B3A

£1

£500

B3

£2

£500

B4

£1

£250

C

50p

£35

D

10p/30p

£5/£8

Age restrictions

There is a minimum age of 18 for all players for all category A, B and C machines, including category B3A gaming machines offering lottery games. However there is no minimum age for players of category D machines. The holder of any permit or premises licence has to comply with the codes of practice issued by the Commission on the location of and access to gaming machines by children and young persons, and the separation from category C and B machines where those are also located on the same premises.

Maximum number of machines by premises type

The maximum number of machines permitted, and in the case of casinos the ratios between tables and machines, is set out by premises type below:

Regional casino

To qualify for category A machines the regional casino must have a minimum of 40 gaming tables. Subject to that, it will be permitted to have 25 gaming machines (of any category A to D) for each gaming table available for use (a machine/table ratio of 25:1). The regional casino will therefore need to have 50 tables available for use to qualify for the maximum of 1,250 machines.

Large casinos (and regional casino with fewer than 40 gaming tables)

Large casinos must have at least one gaming table to qualify for gaming machines, and are permitted five machines (of category B, C or D) for each gaming table available for use. Large casinos therefore need 30 gaming tables available for use to qualify for the maximum 150 machines.

Small casinos

Small casinos must have at least one gaming table to qualify for gaming machines, and are permitted two machines (of category B, C or D) for each gaming table available for use. Small casinos therefore need 40 gaming tables available for use to qualify for the maximum 80 machines.

Bingo premises

The holder of a bingo premises licence may make available for use any number of category C and D machines. The premises licence holder may also offer a number of category B gaming machines not exceeding 20% of the total number of gaming machines available for use on the premises. Regulations state that category B machines at bingo premises are restricted to sub-category B3 and B4 machines.

Betting premises (including track operators with pool betting licence)

The holder of a betting premises licence may make available for use up to four gaming machines of category B, C or D. By virtue of section 172(9) this permission extends to tracks, but only those where the licence holder also holds a pool betting operating licence. Regulations state that category B machines at betting premises are restricted to sub-category B2, B3 and B4 machines.

Adult gaming centres

The holder of an adult gaming centre premises licence may make available for use any number of category C and D machines. The premises licence holder may also offer a number of category B gaming machines not exceeding 20% of the total number of gaming machines available for use on the premises. Regulations state that category B machines at adult gaming centres are restricted to sub-category B3 and B4.

Family entertainment centres (with a Commission operating licence)

The holder of a family entertainment centre premises licence may make available for use any number of category C and D machines. However category C machines must be in a separate area to ensure the segregation and supervision of machines that may only be played by adults.

Family entertainment centres (with gaming machine permit)

The holder of a family entertainment centre gaming machine permit may make available for use any number of category D machines. As with the position on licences, there is no power for the licensing authority to set a limit on the number of machines under the permit. Family entertainment centre gaming machine permits are issued by the Licensing Authority. The fee for a permit is £300.00.

Club machines permit

The holder of a club gaming permit or club machine permit may make available for use on premises operated by a members' club, a commercial club or a miners' welfare institute, up to three machines of category B, C or D (i.e. three machines in total). As well as clubs with alcohol licences, premises that are not licensed to sell alcohol, for example works premises which operate membership-based social clubs, are able to apply for a club gaming permit. They need to have 25 members, be permanently established and be for the benefit of the members.

Regulations state that category B machines for club machines permits are restricted to sub-category B3A or B4 machines, depending on the class of club. Commercial clubs are restricted to B4 machines whereas members' clubs and miners' welfare institutes may site sub-category B3A machines. Club Gaming/Machine permits are issued by the Licensing Authority. The fee is £200 or £100 if the applicant is an existing permit holder.

Pubs and other premises with a qualifying on-premises alcohol licence

In such qualifying premises there is an automatic entitlement to two gaming machines of category C or D, subject to notifying the licensing authority, paying the prescribed fee (£50) and complying with any relevant code of practice issued by the Commission. In addition, in accordance with the Act, an application may be made for a licensed premises gaming machines permit, which allows for further category C or D machines to be made available in alcohol-licensed premises. There is no limit in the Act to the number of additional machines that may be authorised. This will be a matter for the licensing authority to determine in each case, and specify on the permit. An Alcohol Licensed Premises Gaming Machine Permit is issued by the Licensing Authority. The fee is £150 or £100 if the application is made by an existing operator.

Gaming machines were available in premises such as take away food shops and taxi offices, and other un-licensed premises where children could play them unsupervised. Under the Gambling Act 2005 gaming machines will no longer be available in these premises.

This authority is under a duty to protect the public funds it administers, and to this end may use the information you provide on any application form for the prevention and detection of fraud. It may also share this information with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds for these purposes.