Gambling Act permits

Under the Gambling Act 2005 Permits are issued to premises that either offer very low-stakes and prizes gambling, or premises whose primary function is not the provision of gambling facilities. Therefore, the only premises eligible to apply to us for Permits are:

  • Unlicensed Family Entertainment Centres 
  • Alcohol Licensed Premises (under Licensing Act 2003) 
  • Clubs, both commercial and non-commercial 
  • Premises wishing to offer commercial prize-gaming

There are several key differences between a Permit and a Gambling Act premises licence:

  • Permit applicants/holders are not required to have an Operating Licence issued by the Gambling Commission 
  • There are no responsible authorities or interested parties in relation to Permit applications 
  • We can only grant or reject Permits, we can not attach conditions. 
  • The Gambling Commission has less power and involvement in relation to Permits than they do with a Gambling Premises Licence. 
  • With the exception of Permits relating to alcohol licensed premises, Permits are of limited duration.

There are fees applicable to these processes.


Under the Gambling Act 2005 a Licensed Premises Gaming Machine Permit applies to premises with a Licensing Act 2003 on-premises alcohol licence that also serve alcohol without the requirement that it accompanies food. A pub, restaurant or hotel with a bar will be eligible to apply for this type of permit, but hotels and restaurants that serve alcohol only with food will not.

Section 282 of the Act provides an automatic entitlement to make available two gaming machines (of categories C or D) for use in alcohol licensed premises . To take advantage of this entitlement the Premise Licence Holder, under the Licensing Act 2003, must give notice to us of their intention to make gaming machines available for use, and must pay the prescribed fee.

We may issue Licensed Premises Gaming Machine Permits for any number of Category C or D machines in licensed premises. Where a Permit authorises the making available of a specified number of gaming machines in particular premises, this will effectively replace, and not be in addition to, any automatic entitlement to two machines as described above.

Permit holders are required to comply with the Gambling Commission gaming machine permits codes of practice. Compliance with these provisions is a condition of the Permit, and failure to do so could result in revocation of the Permit.

Under Section 271 of the Act, we may grant members’ clubs and miners’ welfare institutes (but not commercial clubs) Club Gaming Permits which authorise those establishments to provide gaming machines, equal chance gaming and games of chance as prescribed in regulations. This is in addition to the exempt gaming authorisation under Section 269 of the Act.

Club Gaming Permits allow the provision of no more than three gaming machines. These may be from categories B3A, B4, C or D The Club is permitted to choose the combination of machines on its premises.

If a Club does not wish to have the full range of facilities permitted by a Club Gaming Permit or if they are a commercial club not permitted to provide non-machine gaming (other than exempt gaming under Section 269 of the Act), they may apply to the Authority for a Club Machine Permit under Section 273 of the Act. This authorises the holder to have up to three gaming machines of categories B3A (this category is not available for commercial clubs) B4, C and D.

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.

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.
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