Certain SWP Machines to become Cat D’s


The Gambling Commission has confirmed, after consultation with industry and machine suppliers, that certain types of amusement machines which are currently treated as Skills with Prizes machines (SWPs) do in fact contain an element of chance as well as skill and therefore should be treated as a gambling machine.

The machines which will be caught by this re-classification provide the player with an apparatus to manipulate which may win them a prize such as by cutting a cord from which a soft toy is dangling, or inserting a key into a lock to “unlock” the prize. Common examples of these machines are branded “Butcher’s Cut” or “Keymaster” machines. I have also played a similar “Barber’s Cut” machine myself recently and despite a couple of decent attempts was unable to win the Minion I was after. It has been decided that these machines will be classified as Category D under the same definition as Crane grabbers.

The legal definition for “Crane Grab” style machines is found in the Categories of Gaming Machine (Amendment) Regulations 2009 and the Commission has decreed that these alternative SWP machines fall under that definition.

The effect of this is that operators who provide these machines may now require an appropriate licence and/or permit. Suppliers of these machines will need to have an appropriate operating licence from the Gambling Commission, and traders or operators who have these machines in use may require a licence or permit from the licensing board. Some operators may already have a licence or permit which would cover this change but I advise anyone who uses the machines to seek advice.

The Gambling commission has given affected businesses until 31 August 2015 to lodge any licence or permit application.

This change may also affect pubs and alcohol licensed premises. Pubs can currently use these machines without any licence or permit on the basis they are SWPs. If pubs wish to keep these machines they would now fall under the automatic entitlement or Licensed Premises Gaming Machine Permit regime because of their re-classification as gaming machines. This may affect machine numbers. For example, automatic entitlement allows up to 2 Category C or D machines. If a pub or alcohol licensed premises has 2 Category D machines (typical pub fruit machines) and in addition a “Butcher’s Cut” machine, then as of 31 August 2015 that machine could not be used, unless an application for a Licensed Premises Gaming Machine Permit to allow 3 machines had been lodged with the licensing board.

A pub which has one or two of these machines without either automatic entitlement or a permit, and no other machines, would require to adopt the automatic entitlement which would allow up to 2 machines of either C or D as noted above.

Businesses using the Butcher’s Cut/Barber’s Cut/Keymaster machines should therefore seek advice now to ensure if they do need to have an application lodged, it is in by 31 August 2015.




About Stephen McGowan

Leading Scottish licensing solicitor at TLT LLP.
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