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British Law and Vintage Coin-Operated Machines

Postby pennymachines » Mon Sep 13, 2004 11:52 pm

British Law and Vintage Coin-Operated Machines

A Strict Reading of the Rules

The sale, supply, maintenance and operation of Gaming Machines in Britain is regulated by the Gambling Commission in accordance with the 1968 Gaming Act (as of September 2007, the Gambling Act 2005).

Although you may purchase any number of Gaming Machines, without restriction, in order to sell them, you are legally required to obtain a Section 27 Certificate from the Commission.
The certificate costs £6,605 and, unless revoked, is valid for five years, with a £4,512 renewal fee (2006 prices).

According to the Commission, a gaming machine should be taken to mean any machine which has a slot or other aperture for the insertion of money or money's worth in the form of cash or tokens and is constructed or adapted for the playing of a game of chance by means of its own mechanism, whether or not it is constructed or adapted to pay or award prizes. A game of chance and skill combined is regarded as a game of chance.

The Exceptions

You may apply for a free permit from the Commission to sell one or more machines on a one-off basis.

You do not require a certificate or permit to sell a machine as scrap or to a dealer whose business includes selling that kind of machine or for use exclusively in an amusement arcade, in a pleasure fair, or on a pleasure pier, or a travelling showman's fair.

Why is it relevant us?

Over a hundred years of cat-and-mouse between the regulatory authorities and the amusement machine industry has resulted in the Commission settling upon the above all-encompassing definition of a gaming machine.

Clearly the majority of machines we collect, including many which were not defined as gaming machines when they were originally operated, fall within this broad definition. No exception or concession is made for the age of a device, obsolescence of coinage, domestic ownership, etc.

The one-off permit is of little use to collectors who by definition will not be content with a one-off trade.

Consequently, collectors, antique dealers, the major auction houses and others have been breaking the law since the late 1970s (when people first took an interest in conserving old amusement machines).

Absurd though it may seem, until the law is changed, most of us in this hobby are, strictly speaking, criminals.

The rules, of course, apply to auctions as well as private sales. If the auctioneer owns a Section 27 Certificate, this will only permit the sale of gaming machines owned by the auctioneer. Because the auctioneer does not buy the vendors' lots, but only acts as an agent selling on their behalf, the vendors are still required to have a permit or certificate themselves.

Online Auctions and Markets

Ebay are unwilling to jeopardize their enterprise for the sake of any legally gray areas. Lacking the resources to actively monitor the content of their site, they depend upon users to report illegal postings. The result, oddly, has been that although vintage amusement machines are frequently thrown off, modern gaming machines are routinely sold.

The Commission has classified an online auction or market as a "forum", not a "salesroom". This means that vendors assume legal responsibility for their postings in the "forum" by accepting the User Agreement, thereby absolving the online auction or market's liability.

Meanwhile... back in the Real World

Fortunately, although the Commission states, it has no authority to interpret the law, this being a matter for the courts, the way they have targeted their resources over the years makes it evident that they do not have the vintage slot machine enthusiast in their sights. They have only shown an interest when obliged to because they have been approached on the subject. Over twenty years of collecting, we are not aware of anyone in the hobby who has been prosecuted under the Act for selling vintage slot machines.


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