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HM Revenue and Customs Brief 63/09


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Issued 12 October 2009

This Revenue & Customs Brief outlines HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) policy in relation to an amusement machine playing a game called 'Stacker' and its liability to Amusement Machine Licence Duty (AMLD).


Recent advances in technology and machine design have produced new types of amusement machines and businesses need updated guidance to help them distinguish between what is a gaming machine and what is a skill with prizes machine.
Gaming machines are liable to Amusement Machine Licence Duty (AMLD) unless they fall within any of the exemptions for machines with small stakes and prizes.


The 'Stacker' amusement machine has been marketed in the UK as a skill with prizes (SWP) machine. HMRC believes that the 'Stacker' game satisfies the requirements for a gaming machine contained within s25 of the Betting and Gaming Duties Act 1981 and therefore depending on stake and prize limits considers that the 'Stacker' electronic game terminal is a licensable gaming machine.

A game of chance

HMRC believes that the 'Stacker' game is a game of chance because players are only allowed a very short period of time to react when playing the game and this means that they cannot win the game on the basis of skill alone. The very short time period introduces an element of chance into the game.


Depending on stake and prize limits, these machines are therefore liable to AMLD.

Finance Act 2009 introduced a new exemption for Gaming machines with a maximum stake of 1 and a non-cash prize with a value not exceeding 50.

This means that 'Stacker' machines will only require an AMLD licence if either the stake exceeds 1 or the value of any non-cash prize exceeds 50.

This policy may affect other games where players are only allowed a very short period of time to react.

What you need to do

If you provide a 'Stacker' machine on any premises you must hold a valid AMLD licence before you make the machine available for play unless the machine falls within any of the exemptions.

If you provide a machine playing a game where players are only allowed a very short period of time to react and are unsure whether your machine is liable to duty, you should consult the Helpline on 0845 010 9000 with full details of the game before making the machine available for play.

Further information

HMRC provides guidance in Notice 454 (October 2007) to help businesses decide whether their amusement machine is liable to AMLD. Exemptions are covered in section 10.

About the Author

Crown Copyright 2009.

A licence is need to reproduce this article and has been republished for educational / informational purposes only. Article reproduced by permission of HM Revenue & Customs under the terms of a Click-Use Licence. Tax briefs are updated regularly and may be out of date at time of reading.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-10-13 16:16:12 in Tax Articles

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