Sports betting: It’s not worth gambling with your licence

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Sports betting: It is an offence under the Gambling Act 2005 to allow, cause or permit your pub to be used to provide facilities for betting.
Sports betting: It is an offence under the Gambling Act 2005 to allow, cause or permit your pub to be used to provide facilities for betting.
We are a nation of punters. No doubt some of you reading this will have put a bet on a horse running in the Grand National or at Cheltenham or, more recently at Ascot, or on a team to win the World Cup in Russia (although hopefully not Saudi Arabia!).

Some of your customers will enjoy a bet, so you do need to take some time to consider how they are betting in your pub because it is an offence under the Gambling Act 2005 to allow, cause or permit your pub to be used to provide facilities for betting. But what does this mean?

You should never allow a bookmaker to make your pub into their office. We have all heard stories of bookmakers setting up in the corner of a pub where money ex-changed hands with customers. Although they may hold an operating licence issued by the Gambling Commission, they are not permitted  to operate within licensed premises and  allowing a bookmaker to take bets in your pub puts your premises licence at risk and should not be allowed. You will also be open to prosecution.

You should not provide a runner who takes bets to the nearby betting shop on behalf of your customers. They would be acting as a betting intermediary, which requires a licence from the Gambling Commission.

Customers can bet from your pub on their telephones, tablets and laptops, but you shouldn’t allow customers to place bets on your account, for instance as a favour to your regulars. You would then be acting
as a betting intermediary.

You can allow local bookmakers to place betting slips in your pub. The customers can fill out the slips, but they must take them to the betting shop themselves. If you take them, or one of your staff takes them on behalf of the customer, then again they would be acting as a betting intermediary.

There is the risk of prosecution under the Gambling Act 2005 and I have sat with clients at interviews under caution with both Gambling Commission officers and the police. However, the greater risk is that the licensing authority or the police become aware of the activities and take enforcement action in relation to your premises licence, thus threatening your livelihood. For instance, they could review your premises licence under the crime and disorder objective, as allowing betting to take place is a criminal offence, which could result in restrictions being placed on the premises licence or the licence being revoked.

We benefit from a varied gambling market in this country, however, the Gambling Commission and local authorities take a hard line with regard to illegal betting activities. So you and your customers should be able to enjoy a punt, but keep an eye out for any betting activities taking place on your premises and do not gamble with your licence.

Related topics: Licensing law

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