Legal Advice

Legal Q&A: Gaming machines and poker nights

By Jonathan Smith

- Last updated on GMT

Setting up poker nights: What are the issues for pubs?
Setting up poker nights: What are the issues for pubs?

Related tags: Gaming machines, Slot machine, Gambling in the united kingdom, Gambling commission

This week's legal Q&A considers the issues of gaming machine permits and poker nights.

Conditions attached to a gaming machine permit

Q. I currently provide three category C gaming machines at my premises under a licensed premises gaming machine permit and have been informed by the licensing authority that it is subject to conditions that are not displayed on the permit itself. Is this correct?

A. You should be aware that a number of conditions are automatically attached to such permits and the Gambling Commission has issued a code of practice for premises with an alcohol licence, which will assist you.

All gaming machines must be positioned so that they can be supervised during their use and this may be achieved by designating responsibility to particular staff members or by other means such as via CCTV. You should also be aware that if you have a cash machine at the premises, all gaming machines must be placed so that anyone playing the machine must stop if they wish to obtain cash.

Because you are providing category C machines, while the implementation of a specific age verification policy regarding the gaming machines is not a condition of the permit, you must ensure that under-age gambling is prevented.

Do I need a licence for poker nights at my pub?

Q. I have been thinking about ways to attract customers to my pub on quieter evenings and have thought about having a poker night. Am I able to provide poker at my premises without an additional licence or permit?

A. In principle, the answer is ‘yes’ because poker can be provided as low-stake and prize gaming under the provisions of the Gambling Act 2005. Provided your premises has an on-licence and contains a bar, poker may be played at any time when alcohol may be supplied in reliance on the licence, subject to strict limits and restrictions: the maximum stake per person per game is £5; the maximum aggregate stakes per premises per day are £100; and the maximum prize per game is £100. No deductions may be made from the pot and all money staked must be returned to players as prizes. Games cannot be linked to other premises and you must exclude under-18s from participation.

The designated premises supervisor effectively becomes the gaming supervisor and must ensure that all limits are strictly adhered to. The Gambling Commission has issued a code of practice for equal chance gaming, which outlines best practice and should be considered if you wish to provide poker facilities.

This can be a complicated area and you may wish to seek legal advice to ensure that any gaming provision is compliant with the regulations.

Related topics: Licensing law

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