Conservative Weekly Draw Banner Image

CLUB LAW & MANAGEMENT

Discrimination Law Review

For many years, this Association has actively promoted and encouraged Clubs to adopt membership policies which provide equal rights for both men and women.

I am pleased to say that this long-standing campaign has proved to be very successful. The vast majority of A.C.C. Member Clubs elect women and men to equal membership.

As the law currently stands, Private Members' Clubs are permitted to elect, under certain circumstances, women or men to non-voting membership.

The Government have recently published proposals for a Discrimination Law Review which will, for the first time, consolidate under one Act the various existing pieces of legislation concerning discrimination and will also widen its scope.

Consequently, sex, age, race, disability, religion and belief and sexual orientation will be matters which all businesses, organisations, employers, Clubs and Associations will need to address.

It will remain possible for Clubs, established to bring together people who share a specific characteristic or belief, to continue. Therefore, Clubs established for a single political purpose, such as ours, will remain largely unaffected.

However, the following extract from the proposals deals with the issue which will affect those Clubs which continue to elect women to non-voting membership only.

"If Private Clubs do have both men and women as Members we propose to make it unlawful for them to discriminate on the grounds of say against their Members associates applicants for membership or their guests. We have for many years encouraged Clubs to address this issue voluntarily, but we continue to receive numerous representations from women Club Members who experience blatant sex discrimination because some Private Clubs still limit women Members' access to activities and benefits, and treat them as 'second class Member' : We cannot see any justification for this.

When this proposal becomes law, which it almost certainly will, then immediately all Clubs which operate such a system will be required to elect existing women Members to Full Membership of the Club.

The proposed legislation has no effect on Clubs which are already established with single sex membership only. Clubs which are therefore men only, or women only, and which do not elect women or men to non-voting membership will not be required to change.

We will keep Clubs informed of this proposed legislation's progress through Parliament in future editions of the Magazine.

 

NEW RULES ON LOTTERY MACHINES

Many Clubs are currently operating lottery machines which play in a similar way to gaming machines.

Such Machines currently offer prizes of up to £2,000 and, since they are run as lotteries, they are exempt from V.A.T. and Gaming Machine Licence Duty.

Under the Gambling (Lottery Machine Interval) Order 2007, from lst September machines will have to be altered in order to incorporate a one hour interval between entry to the lottery (pressing the start button) and the announcement of the result.

Clearly, this will effectively end the use of such machines on the grounds that it would be completely and totally ludicrous to produce a machine which operated in such a fashion.

Lottery, ticket (pull-tab) vending machines are not affected by this Order.

The A.C.C., together with other members of C.O.R.C.A., have spent considerable time and effort in lobbying the Government requesting that this requirement is reconsidered, arguing that Private Clubs have a special place in our communities and need a helping hand at a time when revenue income will be hit by the smoking ban.

I am pleased to report that Richard Caborn, M.P., when Minister for Sport, took our arguments on board and we publish below a letter which was recently sent by him to a Gaming Industry Association, in which he proposes a new category of machine for Clubs.

Importantly, this new machine will only be available in Private Members' Clubs. Whilst it is not a complete reversal of the original proposal, it will, at least, provide Clubs with the ability to have one lottery gaming machine offering a maximum prize of £500, twice the amount which is permitted for other gaming machines in Clubs. The letter states:

"We are introducing a new category of gaming machine that non-commercial clubs will be able to offer. The machine, which will be classified as B3A, will have a maximum stake of £1 and a maximum prize of £500. The B3A will only be available to members' clubs and miners' welfare institutes, and must offer only lottery-based games.

"My purpose in writing is to inform you about the new category B3A gaming machine and to explain our thinking behind the introduction of the machine.
"The consultation revealed that many clubs are offering gambling through machines which claim to be Lottery ticket vending machines, but which share many of the characteristics of gaming machines. The machines currently operate under section 4 "Private Lotteries" of the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976, and are typically provided in working men's clubs and miners' welfare institutes.

"The machines currently offer prizes of up to £2000. I am concerned that Clubs are offering machines which have all the appearances of high prize gaming machines; such machines should only be available in casinos. The current law was certainly not intended to authorise the use of these machines, but was designed to allow the provision of low stakes and prizes lotteries. The Government fully intends that this policy should continue once the Gambling Act comes into force in September.

"I have met representatives from the clubs sector to express my concern that such high prize machines are being provided on premises which are not primarily intended for gambling.

"Through the Gambling (Lottery Machine Interval) order the Government intends to ensure that lottery ticket vending machines are not used to provide fast draw, rapid play lotteries.

"Section 23S(5)(d)(ii) of the 2005 Act requires the Secretary of State to make an Order specifying the duration of the interval between entry to the lottery and the announcement of the result.

"Subject to Parliamentary approval, I intend that the duration of the interval should be one hour. This was the interval proposed in the Gambling (Lottery Machine Interval) Order 2007 consultation. At present lottery ticket vending machines effectively operate as gaming machines with only a few seconds lapsing between each play. The Order will not ban lottery ticket vending machines, but is intended to ensure that they cannot be used to offer rapid play gaming.

"The Clubs sector has opposed the one hour interval, arguing it will make the lottery ticket machines commercially unviable. (I know that a number of you, and your members, responded to the consultation in similar terms.)

"The principal argument that has been made to me by the clubs is that the loss of revenue from the machines will hit them hard and could force some to close. They argue that they are well regulated members-only establishments, generally open to over-18s and that they serve their local communities, provide support for families and senior citizens, and raise funds for charities.

"I have listened carefully to their arguments. I have decided that, in order to help maintain the viability of Clubs, they should be able to offer a new category of gaming machine, B3A, offering lottery-based games. The new category of gaming machine will be subject to both the gaming machine provisions and lottery provisions set out in the Gambling Act and associated regulations. Clubs will not be getting an increase in their entitlement of three gaming machines; and through a voluntary agreement which is being developed, through CORCA with all the major clubs associations, every Club will be limited to offering just one of this new category of machine.

"We will keep the position closely under review, with the Gambling Commission and
Licensing Authorities continuing to perform their normal regulatory functions."

 

GAMBLING ACT 2005
Part III Renewals

As my article in the July edition outlined, under the new Gambling Act 2005, previous Part III's will cease to exist with effect from 1 September 2007 and, instead, they will be replaced by a Club Machine Permit.

Any renewals for Part III's expiring on or before 31 st August 2007 are to be dealt with in the normal way.

However, Part III's expiring after 31 st August 2007 fall into the new licensing regime and are dealt with by local licensing authorities rather than the courts system.

Unfortunately, the local authorities have yet to issue their renewal application forms because they have yet to finalise their fees. However, the good news is that the DCMS have revised the time limits for applications and they no longer have to be made two months before expiry of existing Part III's. Instead they must be merely submitted prior to expiry.