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Government response to measures relating to the land-based gambling sector Published Date: 16/05/2024

The response forms part of the government’s smarter regulation programme of regulatory reform measures that began in May 2023 with the publication of Smarter regulation to grow the economy. Smarter regulation is about improving regulation and guidance for businesses across the board, ensuring it is clear, proportionate and does not unnecessarily impose burdens on businesses which restrict innovation and growth.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published its gambling white paper in April 2023, which set out the government’s plans for modernising the regulation of the gambling sector. A series of key proposals specifically relating to the land-based gambling sector were outlined in the white paper, including measures to adjust outdated regulatory restrictions applying to the sector.

From 26 July to 4 October 2023, DCMS conducted a public consultation on these measures. Following analysis of the evidence submitted, the government intends to implement the following measures:

  • Relaxation on casino rules: allowing 1968 Act casinos to increase the number of their gaming machines to 80 if they meet the size requirements of a Small 2005 Act casino and allowing smaller 1968 Act casinos more than 20 machines, on a pro rata basis commensurate to their size, and permitting betting in all casinos.
  • Machines in arcades and bingo halls: allowing a 2:1 ratio of Category B to Category C and D gaming machines in arcades and bingo halls, implemented on a device type basis.
  • Cashless payments on gaming machines: removing the prohibition on the direct use of debit cards on gaming machines, subject to the introduction of appropriate player protection measures.
  • Introduction of a legal age limit of 18 for certain gaming machines: protecting children and young people by banning anyone under the age of 18 from playing low stake Category D slot-style machines that pay out cash.
  • Licensing authority fees: increasing the maximum chargeable premises licensing fees by 15%.

Next steps

Gambling policy is substantially reserved in Scotland and Wales but devolved in Northern Ireland. This consultation relates to land-based gambling provided to customers in Great Britain, by operators who are consequently required to hold the appropriate licence from the Gambling Commission.

This response provides non-remote gambling operators with clear notice of our intention to introduce the measures set out within this government response. Following publication of this response, 6 regulations will be laid before Parliament:

  • Measures relating to casinos - one draft affirmative and one made negative statutory instrument.
  • Amending the 80/20 rule for arcades and bingo halls - draft affirmative statutory instrument.
  • Allowing direct use of debit cards on gaming machines - made negative statutory instrument.
  • Introducing an age-limit on certain types of Category D gaming machines - draft affirmative statutory instrument.
  • Increasing the maximum cap that licensing authorities can charge - made negative statutory instrument.