Top tips: innovation on the social bingo scene

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Eyes down: obey the rules and fun will follow
Eyes down: obey the rules and fun will follow

Related tags Licensing Public house

Social bingo is enjoying a revival with many operators providing innovative approaches.

Numbers are being replaced with music clips and games are provided at event nights, including comedy and other entertainment.

Whatever your particular take on bingo, the important fact is that it in most circumstances it will be classed as gaming under the Gambling Act 2005. It is vital operators consider the legalities before commencing events because failure to comply with the regulatory requirements could be considered the provision of illegal gambling. While a licence review may be unlikely, operators could find themselves in breach of the crime and disorder Licensing Objective under the Licensing Act 2003.

Bingo is permitted in pubs as exempt gaming and we have provided a checklist to assist:

  • Premises must contain a bar from which alcohol is served for consumption on the premises and the sale of alcohol must not be restricted to only those customers consuming food
  • Games can only be played at times when alcohol can be supplied in reliance on the premises licence or sold for consumption on the premises in reliance on a Scottish premises licence
  • There can be no separate participation fee, which would include a ticketed event whereby customers are provided food, beverages and bingo cards for a single price
  • No amount can be deducted from stakes with all money taken being returned to the players as prizes
  • The maximum stake for any game of bingo is £5 per person. So if each bingo card in a game costs £1, a player cannot buy more than ­five cards in that game
  • There is no limit to the value of prizes for all games (you can donate additional prizes in excess of the total stakes received)
  • Games cannot be linked with a game played on another set of premises
  • Under-18s are not permitted to play
  • Premises managers should ensure that the limits are not breached
  • Gaming must not be classi­fied as high turnover, which means that neither the stake nor the prize total can be greater than £2,000 in any seven-day period

The Gambling Commission has a code of practice available on its website and the DPS is responsible for ensuring the code’s requirements are met, which include:

  • Games must be supervised by staff
  • Age veri­fication procedures must be implemented Stakes need to be paid prior to the commencement of the bingo game and no credit can be offered
  • The DPS has to ensure a ‘pleasant atmosphere’ and deny participation to customers who cheat or collude with other players or employees, threaten other players or employees or damage equipment.

Dabbers at the ready.

For any legal enquiries please visit Poppleston Allen's website​.

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