Legal Q&A: Rugby World Cup screening

By Felix Faulkner, solicitor, Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Sports focus: legal experts Poppleston Allen delves into queries around the Rugby World Cup (image: Getty/Thomas Northcut)
Sports focus: legal experts Poppleston Allen delves into queries around the Rugby World Cup (image: Getty/Thomas Northcut)

Related tags Licensing Sport Poppleston allen

This week's Q&A with Poppleston Allen looks at the rules around screening the Rugby World Cup and betting.

Q: I am the owner of a local pub and have seen the Rugby World Cup which is taking place in September being advertised. I do not normally show sport, but am thinking this may be an opportunity to increase trade – am I able to show this?

A:​ Showing live TV is not a regulated activity and so you do not need any permission on your licence in respect of regulated entertainment to show the rugby. However, you must have a valid TV licence for the premises to cover any matches shown on terrestrial TV.

If you are also residing at the premises (e.g., in a flat above the bar) and have your own TV in this accommodation then you would need a separate TV licence to cover this.

The Rugby World Cup is on terrestrial TV, but if this is a success and you decide that you want to show other sport that is not, then you would need a separate subscription from a company that provides sports TV packages to be able to show this, such as when the Premier League football starts.

If you are showing any sport that is not on live TV then this is licensable and you would need to ensure that your licence permitted the showing of films for the times that the non-live sport will be shown or apply for a temporary event notice. This would include videos of previous sporting events, like England’s 2003 World Cup win.

Another consideration here is that the World Cup is taking place in France so there is a slight time difference and the implications that this will have on the timings of matches. This is not drastic, with there being one hour difference but something to be aware of.

You should ensure that you are clear what time the matches will be played and check your premises licence to ensure that you are permitted to open and trade (particularly if you want to sell alcohol) during the hours they will be shown.

If your premises licence does not permit the hours required then you would need to apply for temporary event notices to cover any matches you wanted to show outside of your permitted hours, but you would need to consider the limits to these and ensure you submit them in plenty of time.

Place your bets

Q: I am planning on showing the Rugby World Cup, which is taking place in France later this year and am beginning to promote the matches to customers to encourage them to book tables etc. However, some have asked if they can be placing bets while in the pub and I am not sure, can you advise?

A:​ The key here is to ensure you do not act as a betting intermediary, which is an offence under the Gambling Act 2005.

However, despite saying this, there is nothing to stop your customers from placing bets while they are in your pub, for example on their smartphones or other electronic devices using their own betting accounts – they can even access your Wi-Fi to do this.

You should ensure you do not allow customers to use your betting accounts to place wagers and you should not have someone going from your premises to the betting shop to place bets for customers.

If you wanted customers to have access to betting slips to place bets then you are able to allow these to be placed in your pub and allow your customers to fill them in on the premises. However, you must ensure that they take them to the betting shop themselves.

It is illegal for commercial betting to take place in your pub and you should not allow the local bookmaker to operate on your premises taking bets from your customers – you must ensure that customers go to the bookmakers and place their bets themselves.

If you do this, the implications are serious and it could place your premises licence at risk of a review if it is found that commercial betting is taking place in your pub.

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