Gambling and betting are big business in the UK. According to figures published by the Gambling Commission in 2016, there are some 8,709 betting shops in Great Britain, employing around 104,896 people.

A licensed industry of this scale is no different to any other in terms of having recognisable regulatory and licensing elements- but the relevant rules and procedures can be unclear. We break down what the key aspects are and how businesses need to take account of them.

The Law

The key legislation is the Gambling Act 2005. This created an entire regulatory regime, dealing with all forms of gambling (apart from the National Lottery, which is separately governed)

The Act requires that a person providing gambling facilities must obtain the relevant type of licence, as follows:-


Broadly speaking, businesses and individuals will need one or more of the following:-

An Operating Licence (granted by the Gambling Commission)

A Personal Management Licence (granted by the Gambling Commission)

A Premises Licence (obtained from the local Licensing Authority).

Licences are subject to mandatory conditions decided by the 2005 Act, but the Commission and Licensing Authorities have discretion to add further conditions as they wish.

It is important to be aware that as well as abiding by the Gambling Act, businesses must also adhere to the Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice. These extensive rules run to some 81 pages and we are able to advise you as to the implications of the rules upon your business.

Regulatory Action

The Gambling Commission has wide ranging powers to deal with breaches of Operating or Personal licences. These can range from warnings to fines and suspensions. They can also involve other agencies such as the Police and HMRC.


The series of offences created by the Act are numerous and wide-ranging, and many of them are punishable by a prison sentence of 51 weeks and/or a £5,000 fine.

You can face action for such matters as providing gambling facilities without a licence, to failing to inform the Commission about a change in circumstances without a ‘reasonable excuse.’ If you are in doubt about any action you may be facing, you may wish to obtain legal advice.


Appeals against Gambling Commission decisions are made to the General Regulatory Chamber (a form of tribunal). You are able to appeal if an application is declined, or your licence is suspended or changed. It is also possible to appeal if you are given a fine or warning.

You only have 28 days to appeal from the date of the decision letter, although extensions are available in certain circumstances.

Appeals against decisions made by a Licensing Authority are heard by the Magistrates’ Court. These must be made within 21 days of the decision being given. One or more hearings will be held to decide the outcome.

We can prepare appeals and represent you at any hearings, as well as offering confidential advice at the earliest opportunity.


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