The Gambling Act and You: A General Overview
The Gambling Act 2005 became law on 7 April 2005, and will be fully implemented by September 2007. The new Act updates existing gambling laws that are several decades old, providing new powers and protections for both new and old forms of gambling. It has three objectives:
- Keep gambling crime free
- Ensure that gambling is fair and open
- Protection of children and vulnerable adults
These are underpinned by:
- Social responsibility and protection of the public, especially children and the vulnerable. This remains top priority.
- A new regime, which has at its heart firm but fair regulation allowing people to enjoy gambling responsibly, encourages an important industry to thrive by behaving responsibly, and protects the vulnerable. A robust regime is good for players, providers and investors.
- Close and consultative working with all relevant bodies, the industry, faith and community groups, researchers and those dealing day to day with problem gamblers.
How does it work?
The Act covers two main areas:
- Providing facilities for gambling
- Using premises for gambling
In either case, you should hold the appropriate permission. This may be in the form of a licence, permit or registration, or exemption under the Act. The Act introduces a new, unified regulator for gambling in Britain - The Gambling Commission - and a new regime for commercial gambling (operated and regulated either by the Commission, or the licensing authority, depending on what's being licensed.)
The Gambling Commission will regulate all commercial gambling in Britain except:
- Spread Betting (regulated by the Financial Services Authority)
- The National Lottery (regulated by the National Lottery Commission)
The Act enables the commission to void bets that are unfair, for example, due to cheating. A Gambling Appeals Tribunal is being established to hear appeals against decisions made by the Commission. Magistrates Courts will hear appeals against decisions made by the licensing authority.
There will be a three tier system of control:
- Government, (Department of Culture, Media and Sport)
- Gambling Commission
- Local Authority (usually your local council)
What does it cover?
The Act (Section 3) describes gambling as:
- Gaming - playing a game of chance for a prize
- Betting - a transaction based on the outcome of a race or likelihood of an event happening
- Lottery - pay to participate, with prizes allocated on a chance basis. The National Lottery is excluded.
The Act (Section 4) covers Remote Gambling such as internet, telephone, television, radio or other forms of technology. The Act no longer permits the use of gaming machines in small unlicensed premises (mini-cab offices, fish and chip shops etc.) These will be gradually removed when their existing permit runs out.
What sort of licence will I need?
The Gambling Act introduces a system of three types of licence, backed up by a system of registrations and permissions for smaller events:
1. Operating Licence
This is issued by the Gambling Commission for the following ten categories (or combinations)
- Casino operator
- Bingo operator
- General betting operator
- Pool betting operator
- Betting intermediary operator
- Gaming machine general operator (for adult gaming centres)
- Gaming machine general operator (for family entertainment centres)
- Gaming machine technical operator (for construction and installation)
- Gambling software operator
- Lottery operator
The Gambling Act enables the Gambling Commission to add conditions to an Operating Licence where appropriate.
An Operating Licence lasts indefinitely, subject to:
- Gambling Commission powers to limit
- Review (suspension or revocation)
2. Personal Licence
This is also issued by the Gambling Commission, and is required for anyone involved in the management or operation of:
- The provision of facilities for gambling
- A person who provides facilities for gambling
- Management (director/partner)
- Anyone who influences the outcome of gambling
- Anyone who receives or pays out money
- Anyone involved in the manufacture, supply or installation of gaming machines.
A personal licence lasts indefinitely subject to the surrender, lapse, forfeiture, review and disqualification.
3. Premises Licence
This is issued by the relevant local authority, subject to the following:
- Applicant must hold (or have applied for) the relevant operating licence.
- Applicant must have the right to occupy the premises.
- Receipt of complete application, and correct fee.
- Compliance with statutory notices.
The Act introduces the following categories of premises licence with only one category per licence, and one licence per premises:
- Casinos (regional, large or small)
- Adult gaming centre
- Family entertainment centre
- Tracks (there are different rules relating to track premises licenses, see our leaflet relating to premises licences)
The Act also allows a system of permits and notifications for:
- Unlicensed family entertainment centres
- Pubs (notification)
- Pubs (permit)
- Travelling fairs
All these are detailed in leaflets also available from the Licensing Administration Unit.
Northamptonshire Licensing Partnership Central Administration Unit, East Northamptonshire House, Cedar Drive, Thrapston, Northants, NN14 4LZ
For more information on casinos and gaming machines, see our leaflets on the subject.
- The Gambling Act and You: A General Overview (you are here)
- Premises Licence
- Club Permits and Club Machine Permits
- Premises Licences and Occasional Use Notices for Tracks
- Unlicensed Family Entertainment Centres: Small Society and Local Authorities: Travelling Fairs
- Temporary Use Notices