Published: 27 March 2014
Q: I recently moved in and took over the management of a pub. I have been in the business for a few years now and this is the third pub I have run. I transferred the premises licence into my name when I moved in. The Licensing Officer recently visited. He questioned my permission to have the two fruit machines in my bar. I told him that I thought this was an automatic right. He said that if I hadn’t notified the Council then I could not have the machines on. He then said if I didn’t turn the machines off they could remove the automatic authorisation and prevent me from benefiting in the future. I have turned the machines off but what is the legal position?
A: It is only the holder of a premises licence who can notify the Licensing Authority of their intention to benefit from the automatic entitlement to make two gaming machines available for use. Unfortunately the mechanism of the Act does not transfer the right to have the two machines when you transfer the alcohol licence. When you become a new premises licence holder you must notify the Council that you intend to make the two machines available for use. This is often missed when alcohol licences are transferred. I am sure there are many other pubs out there which have forgotten to notify the Council about the machines following the transfer. Local Authorities can remove the automatic authorisation if: (1)The provision of the machines is not reasonably consistent with the licensing objectives; (2) The gaming machines have been available in a way that has not complied with the requirements and the location and operation of the machines. For instance, if they are located next to a cash machine or in a position from which they cannot be supervised; (3) The premises are mainly used for gaming; (4) An offence under the Act has been committed on the premises. The threat by the Licensing Authority is a little harsh under the circumstances however as soon as you notify and pay the £50 fee you can immediately turn the machines on once more.
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