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Pubs unprepared for new machine games legislation

Recent reports from HM Revenue and Customs suggest the majority of pubs are currently not prepared for the new machine games legislation due to take effect in February 2013. Only 353 British pubs, representing around one per cent of those likely to be affected by the new duty, have signed up to the scheme to date.

A British Beer and Pub Association spokesman was keen to express concern over this extremely low uptake rate, stating:

“HM Revenue and Customs certainly needs to do all it can to raise awareness in the short period of time left before the deadline for registration expires. We have guidance to help licensees register on our website.”

As this statement suggests, it seems that many pub owners may lack proper knowledge on the details of the new tax. Specifically, the Machine Games Duty is applicable to any games machines offering a cash prize above the value of the price to play, at a rate of between five and twenty per cent, depending on the prize amount.

The deadline for registration is the 11th of January; however the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ strategic affairs director, Kate Nicholls, advises against postponing until then. “It can take about two weeks to register if there are any problems with registration,” explains Nicholls, adding, “You can’t do it at the last minute.”

Beyond confusion over the length of the registration process, the low application rate may also be partially attributable to a misunderstanding over who is accountable to pay the duty.

Unlike hired jukebox services, where the jukebox site license and the PPL dubbing license is paid within Soundnet’s music service charge, in the case of games machines, this responsibility lies with the pub operator themself. They are therefore also charged with the time consuming task of staying up to date on the latest changes to UK legal regulations. In light of these implications, the benefits of hiring jukeboxes should be appreciated when it comes to providing entertainment for their customers.

Read about Soundnet’s services for more information on the time and efficiency savings to be made from installing a fully managed background music system in your pub or bar.

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