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Amusement Permit

Amusement permits  


In Northern Ireland, gambling is regulated by the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order, Articles 109 – 121 of which deal with amusement permits  

An amusement permit authorises gaming by means of amusements with prizes (AWP) machines (normally known as “gaming machines”) at the premises detailed on the permit. A gaming machine is any machine which is used for playing a game of chance by inserting money into it with the aim of winning money. 

A premise which is being used wholly or mainly for amusement by gaming machines is known as an amusement arcade. Premises are deemed as being used wholly or mainly for amusement by gaming machines when there is at least one more gaming machine than all other types of machines in a venue. 

Amusement arcades need an amusement permit granted by the local council in whose area the premises are situated.  Guidance on “The law on gaming machines in Northern Ireland” has been published by the Department for Communities and available to download here


Who needs an amusement permit? 

Anyone who currently operates or wants to operate an amusement arcade within our district. 

You do not need an amusement permit to have gaming machines for: 

• registered clubs 

• bookmaking officers 

• commercial bingo clubs 

• public houses 

• licensed hotels 

However, other aspects of gambling legislation in NI may apply to gaming machines in these establishments. 

If you are not sure whether you may require a permit, you can contact the Licensing and Safety Advisory Group team for advice. 


Applying for a permit 

Things you should be aware of before applying: 

1. Eligibility 

Applicants must be 18 or older to apply for an amusement permit. 

An amusement permit may be granted to an individual, to a body corporate which is registered under the Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 1986, as amended, or which is an existing company within the meaning of that Order, or to two or more persons carrying on business in partnership. 

In considering the fitness of a person to hold an amusement permit, the law requires Council to consider the character, reputation and financial standing of the applicant and any other persons who have executive control and/or a financial interest or who would be involved in managing the business. 


2. The type of permit required 

The type of permit that you will require depends on the category of gaming machines you would like to have in your premises. 

Arcades can offer:  

  • gaming machines with a maximum stake of 30 pence and a maximum prize value of £8 (as defined by Article 108 (1) (c), for which there is no age limit; or  

  • gaming machines with a maximum stake of 30 pence and a maximum cash prize of £25, as defined by Article 108 (1) (ca), with access restricted to those aged 18 and over.  

There are two types of amusement permits available:  

  • a 108(1)(ca) permit allows an arcade to offer both types of machine; and  

  • a 108(1)(c) permit one only allows an arcade to offer machines with the lower payout value.  

There are different fees for each type of permit.  


3. Planning approval requirement 

Except in the case of renewals, applicants should first get planning permission for the proposed development before applying for a new amusement permit. 


Amusement Permit Policy 

Council has developed an Amusement Permit Policy. This explains how we process applications for amusement permits and outlines the matters that we will take into account when determining applications for the grant of a permit. The policy is available for download here.


How to apply 

1. Type of application 

Council may grant or renew an amusement permit for a premise which is being used wholly or mainly for amusement by gaming machines, i.e. an amusement arcade.  

In addition, where an amusement arcade is about to be, or is in the course of being, constructed, altered or extended, an application may be made by the person who proposes to be the occupier of the premises for the provisional grant of an amusement permit for those premises. 


2. Application form 

Applications must be made using Council’s current application form, available here.

The completed application form must be returned to Council’s Licensing section and the law requires that a copy of the application form is served on the district PSNI Commander: PSNI Area Commander Derry City & Strabane, Strand Road Police Station, 81A Strand Road, Derry, BT48 7AA 


3. Fee 

Applications for the Grant, Provisional Grant or Renewal of a permit must be accompanied by the appropriate fee, which depends on the categories of gaming machines on the premises: 

Permit type 


108 (1) (ca) permit (maximum cash prize of £25) 


108 (1) (c) permit (maximum prize value of £8) 


Please note that the application fee is non-returnable if the application is refused. 


4. Additional documentation 

As part of the application process, you must submit the following documentation, relating to both you and your premises, with your application: 

  • Two recent (less than 12 months old) references: one as to the applicant’s character and reputation; and one as to his/her financial standing.  

The latter should preferably come from a professional person with knowledge of the applicant’s financial situation e.g. Bank Manager or Accountant 

  • Evidence that public liability insurance cover is in place for the premises 

In addition, for new grant applications, the following documents are required: 

  • Copy of planning approval for use of the premises as an amusement arcade  

  • Evidence of Building Control approval for any change of use or any alterations to the premises  

  • Copy of plan for premises  

The plan of premises must be of suitable scale (1/100), clearly showing floor layout, placement of machines, signage etc. 


Amusement permit advertisements 

When applying for the NEW GRANT of an amusement permit, public notice of the application must be advertised in two local newspapers within seven days of the date of application. Copies of each advertisement must be submitted to Council after publication. 

The public notices must be advertised in two of the following newspapers:

For premises located in County Derry/Londonderry:   “Derry Journal”, “Derry News”, “Londonderry Sentinel” or “Belfast Telegraph” (North West Edition) 
For premises located in County Tyrone:   “Tyrone Constitution” and “Ulster Herald” or “Strabane Weekly News” and “Strabane Chronicle” 

 A template notice may be downloaded here.

You must send us copies of the advertisements.  

When applying for the RENEWAL of an amusement permit, advertising in the local press is not required. 


What happens when we receive your application? 

1. Processing time

You should allow a minimum of 8 weeks from the date we receive your application to process it.  

Applications to renew permits will be determined by officers under delegated authority; however, all new grant applications will be referred to Council for determination, which may increase the processing time. 


2. Consultation  

Prior to granting a permit, we will consult with the PSNI and take any observations they make into account.


3. Inspection of the premises 

An officer will carry out an inspection to assess the suitability of the premises, the floor layout, signage, etc. 


4. Objections 

If, during the 28 day period permitted for receipt of representations, we receive objections to an application both the applicant and those who object to the application will be offered the opportunity to appear before and be heard by the Committee. 

Neither the applicant nor the persons making such representations are obliged to appear; however, all representations will be considered by the Committee when determining whether or not the licence should be granted or renewed. 

Applicants will be made aware of any representations received at the earliest practical opportunity. 


Will tacit consent apply? 

Tacit consent will only apply where an application to renew a permit is received before the expiry date of the existing permit. In such circumstances, the permit is deemed to remain in force beyond its expiry date until the renewal application is determined. 

However, both the police and the public have a legitimate interest in the outcome of applications for the new grant of an amusement permit and to minimise the risk of a permit being granted inadvertently tacit consent will not apply to such applications. It is in the public interest that these are fully processed before the amusement arcade is operated for the first time. 

Therefore, an amusement arcade may not be operated for the first time until the application has been determined and an amusement permit has been granted. 

If you have not heard from the Council within a reasonable period, please contact us. 


Amusement permit terms and conditions 

Amusement permits are granted for a 12-month period. 

Permits will be granted subject to the condition that: "the premises are not to be used for an unlawful purpose or as a resort of persons of known bad character".  

Article 108(1) (ca) amusement permits will include conditions to restrict anyone under 18 years of age from accessing gaming machines that have a maximum cash payout of £25. 

We may attach other conditions in relation to how the premises are illuminated, the form of advertising and window display used and how notices are displayed on the premises. 


What happens after an amusement permit is granted? 

The PSNI enforce amusement permit legislation. Their officers inspect amusement arcades to ensure that they are being run properly and they can prosecute any amusement permit holder who does not comply. 

If it is satisfied that the premises have been conducted in such a manner as to cause disturbance to persons residing in the vicinity of the premise, following consultation with PSNI, Council may impose a requirement that the premises close no later than 10:30pm. 

Where the holder of an amusement permit is convicted of an offence relating to breaching the conditions of a permit or any offence involving fraud or dishonesty, the court by which he is convicted may cancel the permit. 


Appeals against Council decisions 

Where an application is refused the applicant has a right of appeal to the County Court. This must be done within 21 days of the date the applicant has been notified of such a decision.  

Applicants may also appeal any condition or restriction imposed on them by an amusement permit. Again, appeals must be lodged with the County Court within 21 days of receiving notification of the condition or restriction. 

On appeal, the decision of the County Court will be final. 


Voluntary Code of Conduct for Amusement Arcades 

Applicants for amusement permits are requested to agree to abide by Council’s Voluntary Code of Conduct for Amusement Arcades. The Code is available for download here

Contact details 

Licensing and Safety Advisory Group 
Derry City and Strabane District Council 

  • 98 Strand Road, Derry, BT48 7NN 


  • 47 Derry Road, Strabane, BT82 8DY 

Telephone: (028) 71253253 

E-mail: [email protected] 

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