In its response to the consultation on proposals for changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures, the Government has today confirmed that it will maintain the status quo on Category C gaming machine stakes and prizes and allocations for the time being but “will continue to monitor impacts, including current consumer demand as outlined by the pub sector alongside player protection measures, and will consider any future regulatory changes to this category of machine outside of the review process”.
The relevant part of the response states as follows:
3.73. For many people, fruit machines are used occasionally for pleasure, generally as part of a wider social occasion, and are available in a variety of establishments, including pubs, arcades and bingo venues. The Government has considered the case set out by the pub and arcade sector, as part of the rationale for an uplift to stake and prize.
3.74. The need for improved player protection measures has been drawn out as a common theme in responses received as part of the consultation about Category C machines. In most cases, this is in relation to their availability in venues where gambling is not the primary activity.
3.75. Advice from the Commission references the theoretical loss per hour for a Category C machine and access children have to these machines in Family Entertainment Centres (FECs) and pubs, which, when combined with the recent 2017 young people report, has raised questions about the potential for harm.
3.76. On gaming machine allocations, the Gambling Act 2005 currently provides pubs with an automatic allocation of two machines (Category C or D), which involves notification and a fee being paid to the local authority. We have noted in responses industry frustration relating to additional payments for machines and transfer of licences.
3.77. We have considered all responses as part of the consultation and decided to maintain our position on stakes and prizes at this time. However, we will continue to monitor impacts, including current consumer demand as outlined by the pub sector alongside player protection measures, and will consider any future regulatory changes to this category of machine outside of the review process. There will not be any changes to machine allocations, as we are content that the option for pubs to apply for a licence permit through the local authority is sufficient.