The gambling industry is always seeking to develop innovative products, which change the way in which customers can gamble. Who would have thought, when Paddy and I started representing betting clients in 1990, that betting terminal machines allowing customers to bet at fixed odds would be become an integral part of all betting shops in the UK and would represent half, if not more, of a betting shop’s turnover? Who would have thought, at that stage, that there would be so many websites available enabling customers to gamble and that online gambling would have such a significant turnover?
Hand-held devices are common now in many gambling establishments, as are self-service terminals, and questions have arisen lately as to whether, in certain circumstances, the use of a hand-held terminal (such as a smartphone) in a betting office is covered by an ancillary remote operating licence, that licence being ancillary to the non-remote operating licence that allows the operator to apply for a premises licence and to trade at that site. The answer to the question can be found in the Gambling (Operating Licence and Single Machine Permit Fees) Regulations 2017 and in particular, in Regulation 16.
Regulation 16 confirms that an ancillary remote operating licence for a betting shop can be obtained by the holder of a non-remote operating licence as long as the remote operating licence authorises the licensee to provide facilities for betting by means of a machine, other than a gaming machine, used for the purpose of making or accepting bets on premises in which there is a betting premises licence, or in circumstances in which each bet made or accepted under the licence occurs by means of a telephone or by email and the arrangements for each bet are provided, operated or administered by an individual. There are also limits on the annual gross gambling yield which the operator may derive from remote gambling.
The practical effect of Regulation 16 is to ensure that any bet placed via remote means is placed with the actual shop and that the arrangements for those bets are provided, operated or administered by an individual (presumably within the shop in question) which, in practice, means that the bets need to be processed manually by the licensed bookmaker on site.
The Regulations also cover bet receipt terminals (self-service betting terminals).
If, therefore, a customer in a betting shop is provided with software which can be downloaded on to their own portable devices to participate in remote gambling, it is covered by an ancillary remote operating licence in the above circumstances, but not if the customer can use the software to gamble on other sites or on a general website where the remote bets are not processed at the betting office.