The law on gaming machines in northern ireland




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THE LAW ON GAMING MACHINES IN NORTHERN IRELAND




Information leaflet – SL3





Alternative formats


Versions of this leaflet in other languages and formats may be made available on request from:
Department for Social Development

Social Policy Unit

4th Floor, Lighthouse Building

1 Cromac Place

Gasworks Business Park

Ormeau Road

Belfast BT7 2JB
Tel: 028 9082 9521

Fax: 028 9082 9539



Email: social.policy@dsdni.gov.uk

CONTENTS
Paragraph
Purpose of this leaflet 1
The Northern Ireland law on gaming machines 2
Definition of a gaming machine 3
Supply and maintenance of gaming machines 4-7
Terminology 8
Jackpot gaming machines 9-11
Amusements with prizes machines 12-18
Cancellation of registration of clubs etc 19
Children and gaming machines 20
Restrictions on simulated card game machines 21
Prohibition of profit-sharing agreements 22
Restrictions on advertising of gaming machines 23
Removal of money from machines - bingo clubs and registered clubs 24
Bingo clubs - restrictions on use of gaming machines on certain days 25
General advice 26-27


Annex
Northern Ireland law on gaming machines A

THE LAW ON GAMING MACHINES IN NORTHERN IRELAND
Purpose of this leaflet
1. This leaflet provides information on some aspects of the law on the operation of gaming machines in Northern Ireland. It is not an authoritative nor a complete statement of the law and is only intended to provide a brief overview and highlight some of the major legal requirements and conditions.

The Northern Ireland law on gaming machines
2. The Northern Ireland law on gaming machines is contained in the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 (the 1985 Order) and associated subordinate legislation. It regulates the conditions under which gaming machines may be supplied, maintained and used. A list of current relevant legislation on gaming machines is attached at Annex A.

Definition of a gaming machine
3. A gaming machine is defined in Article 2 of the 1985 Order as a machine constructed or adapted for playing a game of chance by means of it and having a slot or other aperture for the insertion of cash or tokens.

Supply and maintenance of gaming machines1
4. Anyone who wishes to supply or maintain gaming machines must obtain a gaming machine certificate or permit from a court authorising him to do so. A permit is intended to cover a single transaction ie the supply or maintenance of an individual machine; a certificate is required for a person acting in a regular way of business.
5. These procedures apply to manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and converters of gaming machines as well as retailers.
6. The following are disqualified from obtaining or holding a gaming machine certificate or permit:


  • a person under the age of 21;




  • a person not ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland;




  • a person who has not resided in Northern Ireland for 12 months before making an application; and




  • a body corporate not registered under the Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 or which is not an existing company within the meaning of that Order.

7. No gaming machines may be supplied to any premises unless the supplier’s full name and address, together with the manufacturer’s serial number (if any), are prominently displayed on the front of the machine (SR 1989 No 142).



Terminology
8. In this leaflet:


  • a “jackpot” machine means a gaming machine played for large prizes of up to the statutory limit of £250;




  • an “amusement with prizes” machine means a gaming machine played for small prizes with statutory limits applying (paragraphs 14 and 16).



Jackpot gaming machines
9. Jackpot machines may be used:


  • in registered clubs ie private members’ clubs which have been registered with the courts under the 1985 Order or the Registration of Clubs (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (Articles 95(1)(a) and 106 of the 1985 Order); and



10. In a registered club:




  • the maximum stake per game is 50p (Article 106(3));




  • the maximum value of a prize is £250 (Article 106(5)) which must be in coins delivered by the machine itself (Article 106(4));




  • no more than 3 machines may be made available for gaming (Article 106(2)).

11. For gaming machines used as an incidental attraction at entertainments such as fetes etc under Article 122, there are no statutory limits on the number of machines, stakes or prizes.



Amusement with prizes machines
12. Articles 95(1)(b) and 108 of the 1985 Order allow amusement with prizes (AWP) machines to be used in:


  • amusement arcades and similar premises which have been granted an amusement permit for the purposes of Article 108(1)(c) or (1)(ca) of the 1985 Order by the local district council;




  • commercial bingo clubs licensed by the courts and for which the court has given a direction under Article 63(9) or 68(6)(a);




  • licensed bookmaking offices (subject to a maximum of two machines);




  • the bar areas of public houses and licensed hotels; and




  • travelling showmen’s pleasure fairs.


£8 prize machines

13. AWP machines with a maximum prize value of £8 may be used in:




  • amusement arcades and similar premises which have been granted an amusement permit for the purposes of Article 108(1)(c) or (1)(ca) of the 1985 Order by the local district council;




  • commercial bingo clubs licensed by the courts and for which the court has given a direction under Article 63(9) or 68(6)(a); and




  • travelling showmen’s pleasure fairs.

14. The following conditions apply:







  • the maximum value of a prize is £8 (Article 108(7)); there are three options for payment – up to £8 in cash; or a non-monetary prize or tokens exchangeable for a non-monetary prize of up to £8 in value; or a combination of a cash prize and a non-monetary prize or tokens exchangeable for such a combination up to a total value of £8.


£25 prize machines

15. AWP machines with all-cash prizes of up to £25 may be operated in:




  • amusement arcades and similar premises which have been granted an amusement permit for the purposes of Article 108(1)(ca) of the 1985 Order by the local district council;




  • commercial bingo clubs licensed by the courts and for which the court has given a direction under Article 63(9) or 68(6)(a);




  • licensed bookmaking offices (subject to a maximum of two machines); and




  • the bar areas of public houses and licensed hotels.




  1. The following conditions apply:




    • the maximum stake per game is 30p; this must be in cash, tokens may not be used (Article 108(6)(b));







    • re premises holding an amusement permit granted for the purposes of Article 108(1)(ca) of the 1985 Order, age-related conditions apply which are intended to ensure that under 18 year olds do not have access to the premises or parts of the premises in which £25 prize machines are operated (Articles 111(6A) and 115(7A)).

17. Except for licensed bookmaking offices, there is no statutory limit in the 1985 Order on the number of gaming machines which may be used in the premises listed in paragraph 12 above. A licensing court does, however, have power to specify a maximum limit on the number of gaming machines made available for gaming in particular premises when considering:




  • an application for the grant or renewal of a bingo club licence (Articles 63(9) and 68(6)); and




  • at the request of the police, an application for the grant or renewal of a licence for a public house or a hotel under the Licensing (NI) Order 1996 (Articles 7(13) and 15(6) of the Licensing Order and Article 108(4) of the 1985 Order).

18. In addition, when considering the grant or renewal of amusement permits, a district council has power to limit the number of gaming machines available for gaming in certain premises. The power applies only to premises where gaming machines are not the main activity eg pleasure fairs. (Articles 110(2)(c), 110(3), 111(5)(b), 111(6)(a), 115(6)(b) and 115(7)(a))



Cancellation of registration of clubs etc

19. A court may also, on the application of the police:




  • cancel the registration of a specific club registered under the 1985 Order (Article 103);




  • make a declaration withdrawing the authority to operate gaming machines in a specific club registered under the Registration of Clubs (NI) Order 1996 (Article 105); and




  • make a declaration withdrawing the authority to operate gaming machines in a specific bingo club, bookmaking office, public house or licensed hotel (Article 107).



Children and gaming machines


  1. There are no restrictions in the 1985 Order specifically on the use of gaming machines by children. There are, however, restrictions on the access of under 18 year olds to certain premises in which gaming machines may be available for use:




  • under 18s must not be admitted to licensed bookmaking offices; this prohibition does not apply to a young person who has reached the upper limit of compulsory school age and is apprenticed to the licensed bookmaker (Article 50);




  • in amusement arcades and similar premises holding an Article 108(1)(ca) amusement permit, under 18s must not be admitted to premises or parts of premises in which £25 prize machines are operated (Articles 111(6A) and 115(7A)).



Restrictions on simulated card game machines
21. The supply, maintenance and use of gaming machines constructed or adapted for playing simulated card games such as poker are prohibited unless the machines are to be used in accordance with the 1985 Order on premises where gaming machines are permitted by the Order (SR 1989 No 141). The prohibition on the supply of such machines applies only to their supply for use in Northern Ireland.


Prohibition of profit-sharing agreements
22. Except in the case of travelling showmen’s pleasure fairs, amusement arcade-type premises and pleasure piers, no supplier may supply to, or maintain gaming machines in, any premises on any form of profit-sharing agreement (Article 82).

Restrictions on advertising of gaming machines
23. Article 130 of the 1985 Order prohibits the advertising of gaming machines except those:


  • in amusement arcades and similar premises which have been granted an amusement permit by the local district council;




  • used as an incidental attraction at entertainments such as fetes, sales of work, dinners or dances, provided the entertainments are not run for private gain; and




  • in travelling showmen’s pleasure fairs.



Removal of money from machines - bingo clubs and registered clubs
24. Only authorised persons may remove money, other than prize money delivered by the machine, from a gaming machine in a licensed bingo club or a registered club (Article 123):


  • in the case of a licensed bingo club, the licensee and employees authorised in writing by him; and






Bingo clubs - restrictions on use of gaming machines on certain days
25. Gaming machines in licensed bingo clubs may not be made available for gaming on Sundays, Christmas Day or Good Friday (Article 108(3)).

General advice
26. Further information on the law on gaming machines may be obtained from Social Policy Unit (address below). Legal advice on the law should be obtained from a professional legal adviser.
27. Additional copies of this leaflet are available from:
Department for Social Development

Social Policy Unit

4th Floor, Lighthouse Building

1 Cromac Place

Gasworks Business Park

Ormeau Road

Belfast BT7 2JB
Tel: 028 9082 9521

Fax: 028 9082 9539

Email: social.policy@dsdni.gov.uk

ANNEX A
NORTHERN IRELAND LAW ON GAMING MACHINES
Primary legislation
The Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 as amended

SI 1985 No 1204 (N.I. 11)



Relevant associated subordinate legislation

The Gaming Machine (Forms of Certificates and Permit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1986

SR 1986 No 125

The Amusement Permit (Prescribed Premises) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1986

SR 1986 No 126

(which prescribe the premises in respect of which a person may be granted an amusement permit by a district council)

The Gaming Machine (Prohibition of Melding Games) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1989 SR 1989 No 141



(which prohibit the supply, maintenance and use of gaming machines which simulate card games like poker unless the machines are to be used in accordance with the 1985 Order on premises where gaming machines are permitted by the Order)

The Gaming Machine (Identification of Supplier) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1989

SR 1989 No 142

(which require the supplier’s full name and address, together with the manufacturer’s serial number (if any), are prominently displayed on the front of the machine)

The Gaming and Gaming Machine (Variation of Monetary Limits and Charges) Order (Northern Ireland) 1992

SR 1992 No 43

(which specifies the current charges for gaming machine certificates)

The Amusement Permit (Additional Grounds for Refusal) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1993

SR 1993 No 431

The Gaming (Variation of Monetary Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 1995

SR 1995 No 442

(which increased the maximum AWP prize to £8 for a non-monetary prize, £4 for a money prize (later increased to £5 by SR 1998 No 56 and to £8 by SI 2004 No 310 (NI 1))

The Gaming (Variation of Monetary Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 1998

SR 1998 No 56

(which increased the maximum money prize for AWP machines to £5 (later increased to £8 by SI 2004 No 310 (NI 1)) and the maximum stake for AWP machines to 30p)

The Gaming Machine (Prescribed Licensed Premises) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1998

SR 1998 No 57

(which prescribe the licensed premises in which gaming machines may be used - the bar areas of public houses and licensed hotels)

The Gaming (Variation of Monetary Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 1999

SR 1999 No 4

(which increased the maximum prize for gaming machines in public houses and licensed hotels to £15 (later increased to £25 by SR 2003 No 15) and the maximum stake for gaming machines in registered clubs to 50p)

The Gaming (Bingo (Amendment) and Gaming Machine (Registered Clubs)) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999

SR 1999 No 5

(which prescribe £250 as the maximum prize for gaming machines in registered clubs)

The Gaming (Variation of Monetary Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 2003

SR 2003 No 15

(which increased the maximum prize for gaming machines in public houses and licensed hotels to £25 - subsequently applied to bingo clubs, licensed bookmaking offices and premises holding an Article 108(1)(ca) amusement permit by SI 2004 No 310 (NI 1) )

The Gaming Machine (Form of Amusement Permit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2004

SR 2004 No 353

The above legislation may be accessed at www.statutelaw.gov.uk



1 Articles 81-94 of, and Schedules 7, 11 & 12 to the 1985 Order.

2 See also additional requirements under paragraph 3 of Schedule 2 to the Registration of Clubs (Accounts) Regulations (NI) 1997 - SR 1997 No 333.




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