LICENSING HUB - LEGAL WITH POPPLESTON ALLEN

Q&A: notifying councils about refurbs and under 18s playing bingo

Advice provided: questions around refurbishments and bingo are answered (image: Getty/IvanWuPI)
Advice provided: questions around refurbishments and bingo are answered (image: Getty/IvanWuPI)

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Poppleston Allen answers questions about having to notify local authorities about changes to a property and looks at the rules around under 18s playing bingo.

Q. I have recently become a DPS at a local pub and restaurant and we are planning to undertake a refurbishment in the spring next year. I have taken a look at the licensing plans that are on the premises licence, and I can see that we are putting in new booth fixed seating, moving a stairwell and we are also moving some screens in the main trade area. Do I need to notify the local authority?

A. Your premises licence plan forms part of your licence and certain items are required to be shown on the plans as part of the regulations. This includes the locations of the stairs, and any fixed structures (including furniture) or similar objects temporarily in a fixed location (but not furniture) which may impact on the ability of individuals on the premises to use exits or escape routes.

Your plans must accurately reflect the layout of the premises, so you will need to submit an application to the local authority. Dependent upon how significant the changes are, the council may accept a minor variation or require a full variation application. You will need your licensing application to be approved prior to trading the venue under its revised layout, preferably before you start works so any potential concerns raised by any responsible authorities in respect of the changes can be dealt with before you spend money on your refit.

I would suggest liaising with the licensing authority as soon as possible to see if they will accept a minor variation application for your proposed changes. In order for the licensing authority to accept a minor variation for the changes, they must satisfy themselves that the changes will not adversely impact upon the licensing objectives. A minor variation application has a 10-working day consultation period and the application fee is £89. A notice must also be displayed on site. Note, however, that should representations be made by any of the relevant responsible authorities during the consultation period, the application may be rejected, and you would then need to issue a full variation application.

If a full variation application is required, then the process follows that of a new premises licence including a 28 day consultation period, a fee payable based on the rateable value of the premises , a notice at the venue and advertisement in the local newspaper. Liaising with your local licensing officer well in advance of your scheduled works to determine the nature of the application at the outset, timescales for obtaining licensing approval and whether there would be any possible concerns relating to the change of layout, will assist you in a smoother application process.

Q. We currently run a bingo night every Friday at our pub and its £2 for a bingo card.  We don’t have any separate gambling permissions and just have our premises licence for alcohol. We have been asked by parents if we can let under 18’s join in and play bingo too – can we do this?

A. The answer here I am afraid is a simple, no. It is an offence under the Gambling Act if a person invites, causes or permits a person under 18 to gamble. The maximum penalty on conviction for an offence is 51 weeks imprisonment and/ or an unlimited fine. There is a Code of Practice for equal chance gaming in pubs issued by the Gambling Commission that gives further guidance, and you absolutely must ensure you have an age verification system in place for your bingo games. In addition, you must ensure you comply with the rules for exempt gaming in licensed premises which include:

 • 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

• No participation fees can be charged, and you cannot deduct any type of levy.

• You cannot make any type of profit from the game even if you intended to donate to charity.

• Stake limit of £5 per person per game and all stakes must be returned as prizes.

• You cannot run linked games with other premises.

• You cannot have the bingo played virtually or online in any way.

• Remember also that you must ensure that you do not exceed £2000 per week in stakes or prizes,

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