Gaming or machine permits

Permits are issued where premises either offer very low stakes and prizes, or where their primary function isn’t the provision of gambling.

Permits are different from premises licences:

  • the applicant doesn’t have to have an operator’s licence
  • there are no responsible authorities or interested parties in respect to applications
  • the council can only grant or reject an permit, they can’t add conditions
  • permits are of limited duration (except those relating to alcohol)

Unlicensed Family Entertainment Centre (FEC) gaming machine permits

Family entertainment centres (FECs) are most commonly found at seaside resorts, in airports, and at motorway service centres. FECs cater for families, including unaccompanied children and young people.

Unlicensed FECs are able to offer category D machines if they obtain a gaming machine permit from us.  Any number of category D machines can be made available with such a permit (subject to non-gambling considerations, such as fire regulations and health and safety).

View the Gambling Commission’s gaming machine categories

Permit fees

The permit will have effect for 10 years, unless it is surrendered or renewed, or if it lapses. There is no annual fee for FEC gaming machine permits.

Family entertainment gaming machine permit

Under the Gambling Act 2005 Section 238 specifies that only those premises which are wholly or mainly used for making gaming machines available for use – such as small arcades in holiday parks, theme parks and seaside resorts - may hold a Family Entertainment Centre (“FEC”) Gaming Machine Permit; Permits cannot be issued to vessels or vehicles. Those FECs who do not hold a Gambling Premises Licence will therefore be able to offer Category D machines only under this Permit.

Any number of Category D machines can be made available with the Permit (subject to other considerations, such as fire regulations and health and safety, which will not be issues for the licensing authority under the Act) as these type of machines are the lowest category of gaming machines available, and the only type that children and young people are allowed to play.

If the operator of an FEC wants to make Category C machines available, in addition to Category D machines, then they will need to apply for an Operating Licence from the Gambling Commission and then a Gambling Premises Licence from us. Consequently, holders of a Gambling Premises Licence issued under the Act may not apply for FEC Gaming Machine Permits.

Prize Gaming Permits

Under the Gambling Act 2005 a Prize Gaming Permit is a Permit issued by us to authorise the provision of facilities for gaming with prizes on specified premises.

An application for a Permit can only be made by a person who occupies or plans to occupy the relevant premises and if the applicant is an individual, s/he must be aged 18 or over. Holders of Premises Licences under the Act and holders of Club Gaming Permits may not apply for Prize Gaming Permits.

Prize gaming is defined in Section 288 of the Act, and is gaming in which neither the nature nor the size of a prize is determined by the number of persons playing or the amount paid for or raised by the gaming. It is, therefore, gaming where the organiser puts up the prizes in advance, as distinct from gaming where the stakes of the participants make up the winnings. Prize gaming is intended to permit low level gaming for small participation fees and modest prizes. Bingo played at seaside amusement arcades is typical of this type of gaming.

The following premises are authorised by the Act to offer prize gaming, subject to certain conditions, and do not require a separate Prize Gaming Permit:

  • Holders of Adult Gaming Centre Premises Licences;
  • Holders of Family Entertainment Centre Premises Licences;
  • Holders of Family Entertainment Centre Gaming Machine Permits
  • Travelling fairs
  • Bingo halls

Applicants will be required to provide evidence of the following:

  • The types of gaming that they are intending to offer;
  • The ability to demonstrate that they understand the limits to stakes and prizes that are set out in Regulations; and,

That the gaming offered is within the Law.

For more information please complete our online contact form.


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