The Gambling Commission has recently published the results of test purchases on cat C gaming machines in pubs in England. It claims that almost 90% of the sample pubs failed to prevent children playing on them and has called for the pub sector to take immediate action to enforce the laws that are in place to protect children and young people.
Pubs and clubs can automatically offer up to 2 cat C/D gaming machines provided the local authority has been notified It is also possible to have more than 2 gaming machines provided the correct Permit has been applied for. Further information on categories of gaming machines is available here
Children can play cat D machines but are not permitted to play cat C gaming machines. Whilst there is a legal requirement for FECs to have physical barriers restricting access to cat C machines, no such requirement applies to pubs and clubs. Instead, staff are expected to monitor and prevent children playing on the machines. One way of addressing this is to ensure gaming machines are sited close to the bar where staff can clearly see them. Landlords should also ensure that signage on and next to cat C gaming machines states they are only available for play by over 18s.
Unless landlords take action there is a real risk of further regulation, possibly with cat C gaming machines in pubs and clubs having to be sited behind a physical barrier. That is likely to reduce play and possibly result in gaming machines being removed from sites with a knock on effect for manufacturers and suppliers of gaming machines. There must therefore be an onus on single site suppliers to ensure that landlords are aware of the law and that they have measures in place to prevent under age gambling. Suppliers should also be checking that machines have age appropriate stickers when carrying out empties.
A copy of the Gambling Commission’s letter to the pub industry can be found by following this link