The UK Gambling Commission has issued a stark warning to Pubs across the country. Following a review this year of establishments in England and Wales, 84% had failed to prevent minors playing on their slot machines.
This follows from a review last year in 2018 that put the figures at an even higher 88%.
Over the past twelve months, the Gambling Commission say they have been working closely with business and local authorities to ensure compliance standards become more rigorous.
However, the spanner in the works remains that the UKGC in fact have no jurisdiction over regulating the pub Fruit Machine industry. This is under the purview of a local Licensing Authority (LA), which grants a business its alcohol licence. However, when it comes to regulating Fruit Machines, it seems to be a question of apples and oranges for them.
Pub slot machines, affectionately known as “Fruities,” are a category C gaming machine that has a minimum stake of £1 and a maximum payout of £100. In other words, these are fully fledged gambling devices and should be monitored and regulated as if they were FOBTs or online casino websites.
Though currently the GC has only been able to provide an advisory role, the programme director, Helen Rhodes, has made it clear that the industry must do better. Or else.
She said; “The pub industry must accelerate action to enforce these rules. Pubs must take age verification on machines as seriously as they do for alcohol sales, and they risk losing their entitlement to offer machines if they do not.”
Such remedies, according the GC, must include proper training for the industry. “The British Beer and Pub Association and UK Hospitality,” said Rhodes, “have responded to our call by issuing guidance to their members on the importance of enforcing the legal requirements.”
Finally the commission made it clear that any Pubs that did not improve standards faced potential enforcement action from Local Authorities. This, ultimately, could lead to pubs losing their alcohol licence.
And as long as such decisions were purely under the jurisdiction of LAs, the Gambling Commission says that they will continue to petition anyone who would listen, including the Home Office.