Legal checklist: Betting activity in pubs

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bookmaker, Gambling, Gambling commission

Licensees could face a year in prison and/or a fine if convicted of facilitating illegal betting
Licensees could face a year in prison and/or a fine if convicted of facilitating illegal betting
The recent introduction of changes to planning laws aims to give businesses greater flexibility to adapt to changing business needs; however, the changes have led to some incorrect reports that licensees are now able to allow betting in their pubs and clubs. Follow our top tips to ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of facilitating illegal betting.

No commercial betting is allowed at all on licensed premises and the Gambling Commission has recently issued warnings regarding betting in pubs. The commission also imposed an £8,000 fine and issued a warning to a licensed bookmaker who had been operating from a licensed premise in south Wales.

If you are found to be providing facilities for betting in your premises you risk the local authority carrying out a review of your premises licence as the offence would be relevant to the crime and disorder objective under the Licensing Act 2003.

  • You can provide betting slips at your premises as long as your customers take the slips to the bookmaker themselves. If you collect the betting slips from your customers and take them to the bookmaker on their behalf, you would then be acting as a betting intermediary and could risk prosecution.
  • It may appear ridiculous, but you have to be vigilant and ensure that you don’t allow your customers to collect betting slips from other customers and take these to a local betting shop. Although you are not providing the betting yourself, your customer is acting as a betting intermediary and if this is taking place on your premises, you would be facilitating illegal betting.
  • If you provide computer facilities at your premises, you must ensure that links to gambling websites are not saved onto that computer. If you draw attention to the opportunity to visit betting websites via the computer, you would be providing facilities for betting.
  • Your customers can use your Wi-Fi to connect to the internet via their mobile phone, tablet or other mobile devices in order to use betting websites. As long as they are using their own account to place bets, you would not be committing an offence.
  • Your customers can use your telephone or their own mobile phones to place bets as long as they use their own telephone accounts.
  • Finally, you must not permit licensed bookmakers to sit in your premises and take bets. Although they hold an operating licence issued by the Gambling Commission, they are not permitted to operate within licensed premises.

Both the Gambling Commission and local authorities take a hard line with regard to illegal betting activities in pubs.

If you are convicted of facilitating illegal betting, you could face up to 51 weeks imprisonment (or six months if convicted in Scotland) and/or a fine of up to £5,000 for each incidence of illegal betting.

Related topics: Licensing law

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