Members of UKH and BBPA are being encouraged to use the new age verification test protocol in order to address underage gambling in pubs.

At the beginning of 2019 a Gambling Commission Test concluded that 90% of pubs were failing in their obligations to prevent children accessing Category C gaming machines which should only be used by over 18s.  The industry accepts that measures must be taken to address underage gaming in pubs and that operators need to be more rigorous in staff training and requesting ID from customers.

The UKH/BBPA age verification protocol aims to ascertain whether pubs are complying with their legal obligations in respect of gaming machines and voluntary industry codes such as Challenge 21.  Testers who are over 18 but look under 21 will be sent into participating pubs without warning and will attempt to use gaming machines and record whether they are challenged by staff. Pubs will be given a green, amber or red test result.  Test results will be reported to pubs and those with an amber or red result will be retested, but only once time has been given for necessary action to be taken – for example through staff training.  Overall results will be shared with the Gambling Commission and Licensing Authorities but results for individual pub companies will only be shared with that company.

Operators will be aware that a breach of the law on underage gaming may result in prosecution or premises licence review and are encouraged to take part in the age verification test protocol.  This is a good way of ensuring that staff are complying with their obligations and having a chance to rectify procedures where there are issues before enforcement action is taken.

Our article – Gaming Machines in Pubs – Don’t put your licence at risk gives some background on what operators should be doing.


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.