Select Committee on Regulatory Reform Thirteenth Report


The purpose of the proposed order is to amend the Gaming Act 1968 in respect of two categories of gaming machine:

  • jackpot machines (found in licensed casinos, bingo clubs and registered clubs) and
  • higher-value amusement-with-prizes (AWP) machines (found in a small number of casinos, and also in clubs, pubs, betting shops and over-18 sections of arcades).

At present these machines can accept coins only in payment for games (though higher-value AWP machines may also accept tokens), and can pay out only by means of coins.

The purpose of the proposal is to:

  • allow jackpot machines to accept banknotes and payments by means other than cash (such as smartcards), as well as in coins, and to give out prizes in banknotes and in non-cash forms, as well as in coins
  • allow higher-value AWP machines to accept payments and to give out prizes in banknotes, as well as in coins
  • enable a player's winnings on jackpot machines to be retained for future play, if the player wishes, without the player having to reinsert money into the machine, and
  • dispense with the implication, in respect of both types of machine, that they should be able to accept payment for a single play.

The Committee's conclusions

The Committee believes that the proposal represents an appropriate use of the regulatory reform procedure to remove restrictions preventing the application of modern money-handling technologies to gaming machines. It considers that the protections to be provided by the draft order and its accompanying Gaming Board guidelines are in general sufficient. It has identified a number of concerns, as follows:

The Committee considers that the provision of free-standing smartcard readers, to obviate the necessity of a player having to insert a smartcard into a gaming machine to discover how much credit remained on the card, would provide a form of protection for the player. It believes the Gaming Board guidelines should be amended so as to provide that a player inserting a card into a machine to receive a readout of a smartcard balance should not receive any inducement to play the machine until money has been committed to play. (Paragraphs 114 to 118.)

The Committee is concerned that Gaming Board guidelines will allow the retention of small cash residues on a jackpot machine's bank meter, even when a smartcard has been used to play a machine. It considers that technological developments in the gaming industry should in this instance operate in favour of the user of the machine and expects Gaming Board guidelines to reflect this. (Paragraphs 119 to 123.)

The Committee has identified an apparent incompatibility between the draft order and the Gaming Board guidelines in respect of the redemption of smartcards, which it draws to the Department's attention. (Paragraphs 125 to 126.)

The Committee considers that research on the effects of the new types of gaming machine payment methods on gambling behaviour and problem gambling should be undertaken. (Paragraphs 134 to 143.)

The Committee believes that the draft order as presently drafted is not sufficiently clear in its application to higher-value AWP machines, and has recommended that it be redrafted to stipulate that higher-value AWP machines may accept only coins and banknotes as payment for play. (Paragraphs 156 to 160.)

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