Lottery machines could be worth a punt for operators

With no licence required, some types of lottery could be just the ticket for licensees

THE humble pub quiz machine was the subject of a recent column I wrote for SLTN. Staying with that theme, of a sort, I took a call recently about a ‘new’ type of kit being advertised to the trade – lottery ticket machines. A number of companies selling these machines are now specifically targeting pubs, offering free installation. A client of mine was concerned at the legal position surrounding them and got in touch to see if the “no licence required” pitch was too good to be true.
But first a word about the product itself. What we are talking about here are machines which dispense pre-printed lottery tickets or scratch cards; sometimes they’re called ‘pull-tab’ machines. The player puts a £1 (or other stake) in and a ticket is dispensed. If the ticket proves to be a winner, the player collects the winnings from behind the bar.


The good news is that the advertising is in fact correct – there is no licence requirement for these lottery ticket machines. This is because they are treated as a form of lottery available to certain types of charitable society. As long as 20% of the proceeds from ticket sales goes to a good cause, and the promoter of the lottery is properly registered with the local authority, then the machines do not need to be individually licensed.
It’s also positive for publicans that many companies will install the machines for free; in some cases they are being seen as a direct replacement for cigarette vending machines, which will be illegal come October 1, 2011.
Even more good news for operators is the fact there is no VAT payable. There is something to watch out for, however. These machines are easily confused with specialist lottery B3A ticket machines, which are specially categorised under the Gambling Act 2005. Category B machines cannot be used in pubs at all and are normally only found in members’ clubs.
The difference between the licence-free lottery ticket machines, and the illegal lottery ticket machine (so far as pubs go), is a very subtle and tricky little quirk: the legal machines contain tickets which are pre-printed and therefore the outcome of the lottery is pre-ordained before the machine is stocked, while in the other case the machine itself determines the outcome. All very esoteric, you might say, but if you do wish to take up one of these machines for your pub make sure it is the right type. It might just give your business a welcome boost.