CLUB LAW & MANAGEMENT
Following last month's Club Law and Management article on Membership Recruitment, in which I discussed ways in which to encourage existing members to become actively involved in membership recruitment and how to retain new members once recruited, I am now addressing the subject of Club/Membership Advertising.
I confirm that care must be taken not to advertise directly for new members. The Rules of all A.C.C. Clubs, like all Private Members' Clubs, contain a reference to candidates for membership being properly proposed and seconded by existing members who are able to vouch for their suitability.
This is one of the fundamental principles which defines a bona fide Members' Club, as opposed to a Club which allows people to come in and drink following some mere administrative 'tick the box'.
Licensing Authorities grant a Club a Club Premises Certificate on the grounds that they are managed in accordance with their Rules, and that the Rules comply with the Licensing Act. Committees will appreciate therefore, that by advertising directly for new members a Club would effectively be announcing the fact that it is not complying with its own Rules.
However, it is possible to place an advertisement in the local press, or on a flyer posted to local residential or business addresses, which for example, lists forthcoming events and facilities which are on offer, provided the following words are included:-
"Members, Members' Guests and LA. Ticket Holders welcome. For further details please contact the Secretary."
It is likely that non-members will read this advertisement and may be attracted to what is happening at the Club and the facilities which are on offer, and may indeed, contact the Club with a view to becoming members. Importantly, however, the Club could not be accused of advertising for members.
Some Clubs have successfully used this method to highlight the Club and its activities with the result of increased patronage by existing members who are able to see what activities are planned, and interest from non- members who may wish to become members of the Club.
NEW LAW ON TOBACCO SALES
Clubs are reminded that from October 1 st this year it was illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 in England and Wales.
The ban includes cigarettes, cigars, tobacco and rolling papers.
It applies to over the counter sales and vending machines.
Any existing signs relating to the ban on sales to under-16s must be replaced with the new age, including those on vending machines.
There are severe penalties for selling to under-18s and also failure to display the proper notices.
More information from: www.tobaccoagechange.co.uk
THE GAMBLING ACT 2005
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
This month I have used the popular Question and Answer format to address some of the more frequently asked questions regarding this new legislation which came into effect on lst September this year.
Are Category B3A Gaming Machines subject to Amusement Machine Licence Duty (AMLD) and VAT?
Following discussions between the Gambling Commission, H.M. Revenue& Customs, Gaming Machine Suppliers and Operators, I regret that Category B3A Machines are now classified as Gaming Machines and, as such, are subject to VAT (on the net profit) and AMLD (currently at a rate of £1,965 per annum).
Whilst the reclassification of these machines means that the rules governing lotteries no longer apply, I think the cost of operating such machines may make a number of Clubs reconsider their value as a worthwhile fund-generating facility. However, Clubs will have to wait and see whether the reduction of the maximum prize of £2,000 to £500, together with the introduction of VAT and AMLD will have an effect that is sufficiently negative to make these machines redundant.
I would like to express my thanks to Dransfields, the A.C.C.'s recommended supplier of Gaming Machines, for their assistance and support in dealing with this particular matter.
Has the legal minimum age limit for playing Bingo been altered by the Gaming Act?
Clubs still enjoy the ability o play bingo for small stakes as either an `Activity' or as an `Entertainment'. My interpretation of the Act is that persons do not have to be 18 years of age or over in order to play. This view is shared by the Gambling Commission, although there are some who believe this is not the case. My advice to Clubs is for Committees to determine and apply the age restrictions which are appropriate for their own individual Clubs.
Clubs playing bingo for combined stakes and prizes of £2,000 or more each week are obliged to apply for an Operator's Licence from their Local Licensing Authority. I am not aware of any A.C.C. Club which would fall into this category, but if your Club plays bingo for the above amount, then please contact me for further advice and guidance.
How many of the new classification Category B3A Gaming Machines is a Club permitted to operate?
A Clubs are entitled to 1"l operate one of the new Category B3A Gaming Machines, previously known to most Clubs as `Fortune 2000' machines, as part of the maximum entitlement of three Gaming Machines permitted under the Act.
Our Club has a Pull- Tab Lottery Ticket Machine. Are these tickets now subject to VAT and other licences?
I am happy to inform you that Lottery Ticket dispensing machines which have been available in Clubs for many years are not affected by the Gambling Act.
These machines, which remain popular, are free of VAT and AMLD. No specific licence is required, since they operate, in effect, as Private Lotteries.
I have read that a transition fee is payable to the Local Authority following the introduction of the Gambling Act on lst September. We have not paid such a fee. Should we be operating our Gaming Machines?
Despite some Local Authorities saying that transition fees are payable, I can confirm that a Club holding a Part III Registration Certificate under the old Gaming Act expiring after lst September 2007 is not required to pay a transitional fee.
Clubs benefited from automatic transition under the new Act, to hold Club Gaming Machine Permits.
For further information on the Gambling Act, please see the July 2007 edition of The Conservative Clubs Magazine.