Operating & Premises Licences

Under the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963, operators of betting shops needed to have in place both a bookmaker’s permit and a betting office licence.

The position under the Gambling Act 2005 is much the same. The Act requires high street bookmakers to have both an operator’s licence (issued by the Gambling Commission) and a betting premises licence (issued by the relevant licensing authority for the locality).

Applications for new betting premises near to schools should have stringent procedures in place to prevent children from being admitted.

This is a sign saying: "Back to School". Betting shops situated near schools are carefully scrutinised
This is a horse race. The traditional gambling activity of betting shops is gambling on horses


Issues on operating licence applications mostly relate to an applicant’s suitability. This includes his/her integrity and competence to carry out his business consistently with the licensing objectives. An applicant's financial circumstances are also relevant.

In practice, issues on premises licence applications relate almost exclusively to the promotion of the licensing objectives. These are the prevention of crime and disorder, ensuring fair and open gambling, and the protection of children and other vulnerable people (such as gambling addicts).


Broadly speaking, it is an offence to provide ‘facilities for gambling’ unless the provision is authorised by an operating licence; and it is an offence to use premises to provide facilities for betting unless the premises are the subject of a betting premises licence.

Bookmakers need an operating licence, and betting shops need a premises licence.


Before the Gambling Act 2005 came into force (2007), objections to new applications for betting shops almost invariably came from rival bookmakers trading nearby. Since the 2005 Act, however, trade objections are virtually non-existent. This is because the Act says that licensing authorities must "aim to permit" premises to be used for gambling. But there has been a corresponding increase in objections to new betting shops from local residents. A number of Gambling Commission publications encourage these. The usual grounds are 'prevention of crime' and 'protection of children and the vulnerable'.

See also: Maximum FOBT stake


Betting Shop Clients

Paddy Power

William Hill



Bet Fred

Ascot Race Course

The Tote



Trafalgar Leisure