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Unlicensed Family Entertainment Centre

The Gambling Act 2005 - Unlicensed Family Entertainment Centre

One of the many functions of the Licensing Authority is to:

● License premises for gambling activities

● Grant permits for gaming and gaming machines in clubs

● Regulate gaming and gaming machines in alcohol licensed premises

Family entertainment centres (FECs) are commonly located at seaside resorts, airports and at motorway service stations, and cater for families. Unlicensed FECs are able to offer only category D machines, but must have a gaming machine permit. The application for a permit can only be made by a person who occupies or plans to occupy the premises. He or she must be aged 18 or over. Applications for a permit cannot be made if a premises licence is in effect for the same premises.

Granting or refusing a permit

The licensing authority can grant or refuse an application for a permit, but cannot add conditions. An application for a permit may be granted only if the licensing authority is satisfied that the premises will be used as an unlicensed FEC, and if the chief officer of police has been consulted on the application. The permit holder will be asked to demonstrate:

• a full understanding of the maximum stakes and prizes of the gambling that is

permissible in unlicensed FECs

• that the applicant has no relevant convictions that would bar them from a permit

• that employees are trained to have a full understanding of the maximum stakes and prizes.

The licensing authority may not refuse an application unless it has notified the applicant of the intention to refuse and the reasons for it, and given them an opportunity to make representations orally or in writing or both.

If a permit is granted, the licensing authority must issue it as soon as possible. The permit must specify the person to whom it is issued, the premises it relates to, the date on which it takes effect, the date on which it expires and the name and address of the licensing authority issuing it.

Lapse, surrender and forfeiture of permit

The permit may lapse for a number of reasons, namely:

• if the holder ceases to occupy the premises

• if the licensing authority notifies the holder that the premises are not being used as an unlicensed FEC

• if an individual permit holder dies, becomes incapable by reason of mental or

physical incapacity, becomes bankrupt, or sequestration of his estate is ordered

• if the company holding the permit ceases to exist, or goes into liquidation.

In the last two circumstances, the Act provides that the personal representative (in the case of death), trustee of the bankrupt estate or liquidator of the company may rely on the permit for a period of six months as though it had effect and was issued to them.

The permit may also cease to have effect if the holder surrenders it to the licensing authority. Notice of such surrender must be accompanied by the permit, or by an explanation of why the permit cannot be produced.

If the permit holder is convicted of a relevant offence the court may order the forfeiture of the permit. The court may order the holder to deliver the permit to the licensing authority; and it must in any case notify the licensing authority that it has made a forfeiture order as soon as is reasonably practicable after making the order. An order may be suspended by a higher court, pending appeal.

Last modified: 22 May 2014