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HMRC internal manual

Machine Games Duty

Operational: Compliance checks: visiting premises: machines games on unregistered premises

Where you enter premises for which no-one appears to be registered or you find a machine which is not being included on MGD returns you must first establish whether a dutiable machine game is available for play. See MGD1190

Where the machine game is dutiable you must establish whether a person is registered for MGD. See MGD1040 for how to check for an existing registration. You may also have to ascertain information from relevant people at the business involved. If it is registered proceed to check the details in line with MGD1070.

Where there is no registration for the machine you should ask the trader/owner/leaser:

  • how long the machine has been there
  • when it was delivered
  • when it was first available for play
  • for any paper record to confirm delivery
  • if any permits or licences are held in respect of the premises. See MGD1210 for relevant permits and licences.

Where no relevant permits or licences are held the person who must register for MGD is one of the people:

  • who should hold the relevant licence or permit but does not
  • who owns, occupies or leases the premises (or someone who is responsible to that person for the management of the premises)
  • responsible for controlling the use of the machine(s) on the premises
  • responsible for controlling admission to the premises
  • responsible for providing customers within the premises with goods and services

HMRC has powers to make MGD assessments to anyone and everyone on the list above, and all are jointly and severally liable for MGD.

HMRC must act reasonably and proportionately so how you proceed will depend on the facts of the individual case. You should be wary of raising assessments on certain people and particularly those with only a remote connection with the machine game.

Example: A business with a large national property portfolio rents a particular premises to a business which operates a café. The café provides an SWP machine which is a machine game. Assessing the holder of the freehold for MGD may not be reasonable or proportionate.

In most cases we would expect the person who holds the relevant licence or permit, to register for MGD. We would therefore expect to focus our attention on that person providing it is reasonable to do so. If you are dealing with a registerable person who is not registered, as a first step you should invite them to register by drawing their attention to the process.

If you are dealing with a registerable person and it is appropriate to compulsorily register that person (e.g. if they have not responded to an invitation to register) explain that you will issue a Registration Notice listing all premises for which compulsory registration is being considered. If the registrable person does not appeal within the time limits or an appeal is not successful, HMRC will make a compulsory registration from the date the registration notice is issued, unless someone else has registered in the meantime. You should also supply the person with the Human Rights factsheet CC/FS9 and the Penalties for failure to notify Fact Sheet CCFS/11 and explain that you will consider penalties for the failure to notify.

If the person objects to this course of action you should explain that you may seize the machine if they remain unregistered. See MGD1220.

For a list of details that must be included on the Registration Notice see MGD1140. When you issue the Registration Notice you should refer the registrable person to the relevant link on the HMRC website to the MGD Public Notice 452.

You will also need to consider

  • penalties, see MGD1230
  • duty which arose before registration. See MGD1130
  • whether the person’s behaviour indicates that duty may not be paid and a security should be required. See MGD1150