Do your homework ahead of race nights

By Peter Coulson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Gambling

Peter Coulson
Peter Coulson
As the Gambling Act begins to take effect during this year, it is important for readers to examine the types of betting and gaming that they are...

As the Gambling Act begins to take effect during this year, it is important for readers to examine the types of betting and gaming that they are allowed to conduct on their premises - particularly as they are bom-barded with promotional literature from time to time.

One of the issues that has still not been properly addressed, as far as I can see, is that of running race nights. They are very popular, not only in pubs but also in clubs and community centres. But they do involve gambling of some kind and, as such, have to be approached with caution.

In fact, it has been alleged that police have objected to Temporary Event Notices being granted in respect of race nights, on the grounds that you cannot have an extension for what they see as an illegal event. Technically they are within their rights, but the issues are complex.

I am bound to say that there are difficulties, not only with the actual law but also with the way in which the event is advertised and run.

It is claimed by those who promote race-night "pack-

ages" that they may be run as

a lottery or as "incidental

gaming" to other exempt entertainment. The lottery route is usually not applicable to pubs, because it requires a private club or organisation, and tickets or chances may not be sold to the public. Neither can the lottery be advertised.

So the only route for licensees appears to be as an exempt entertainment under the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976. Fine in theory, but extremely difficult in practice.

Why? Well the race night that you are so keen to promote cannot be advertised as the main attraction!

It must not be "the only or the only substantial inducement" for persons to attend the event. That seems a bit stupid when you are laying out all that money specifically to have a crowd-puller.

But that's how the law currently sees it. The simple fact is that this section of this Act was never intended to cover a mainstream activity of this kind. It was drafted to exempt certain limited forms of gambling at local events like village fêtes and dances, so that they did not fall foul of the gaming laws.

There is another problem with running a race night under this section. The whole of the proceeds of the entertainment, after deducting expenses must be devoted to purposes other than private gain.

This means that you cannot make any money out of any aspect of the evening and it must all go to charity or back to the participants.

Some promoters hold that this only means the money from the horse racing. This is not true. The Act clearly states that it is the proceeds of the "entertainment" which must mean the whole event, of which the racing films have to be only a part. A strict reading of that wording could include bar profits

as well!

So you can now see why there are difficulties in running so-called race nights. To abide by the law you cannot use the gambling as an "inducement", so your advertising has to feature some other attraction. You may mention it in advertising, but only as a subsidiary item. And the whole event must be non-profit making.

There is no law that specifically covers race nights using filmed races, so they have to find a legal loophole to make them work. But it is hardly surprising that the police are suspicious when there have been examples of full tote and bookmaking services on display and a good deal of money riding on the outcome. So you have to approach this form of entertainment very carefully indeed./

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