Pubs are currently allowed to host bingo under ‘exempt gaming’ provisions within the Gambling Act 2005. However, there are strict limits on stakes and prizes and licensees can’t charge participation fees.
Greene King, which operates around 1,000 managed pubs, applied to the Gambling Commission for a bingo operating licence earlier this year that would allow it to offer unlimited stake and prize bingo, “linked bingo” where players can join a national game for big cash prizes via electronic tablets or terminals, as well as increased numbers of gaming machines with higher jackpots.
According to licensing specialists Poppleston Allen, the commission refused the application over concerns regarding the development of commercial bingo in pubs and said that giving it the green light could open the floodgates to hundreds of other applications.
Greene King has now taken its objections to an appeal tribunal, arguing that there is a lack of evidence to support the commission’s view. A decision is expected within the next month, with experts claiming Greene King has a good chance of overturning the ruling.
A Greene King spokesperson said: “We applied for a licence to explore how we might improve the game of bingo, which is already played in many of our pubs. This would enable us to trial new games with our customers, giving them more choice and putting our pubs even more firmly at the heart of their communities.
“We were disappointed with the Gambling Commission’s decision not to grant us a licence and we are therefore appealing that decision.”
The British Beer & Pub Association said that while this issue had not been raised as a concern by its members, operators were “entitled to clarity over
The Gambling Commission refused to comment. However, it is currently consulting on changes to the conditions attached to operating licences and is asking for views on the provision of commercial bingo and high stake and prize gaming machines in pubs and clubs.