Top tips for bingo in pubs: a time-honoured tradition gets a modern twist

Licensing law: Poppleston Allen outlines the rules operators need to adhere to when hosting bingo events (image: Getty/	SolStock)
Licensing law: Poppleston Allen outlines the rules operators need to adhere to when hosting bingo events (image: Getty/ SolStock)

Related tags Licensing Poppleston allen Legislation

Bingo, a classic game that has entertained people for generations has found a new and vibrant home in pubs around the UK.

Once associated with community halls and retirement homes, bingo has undergone a renaissance, attracting a diverse crowd to the lively and social atmosphere of pubs. In this article, we'll explore the resurgence of bingo in pubs and the strict limits on stakes and prizes which must be adhered to.

Pubs have long been a hub for social gatherings, where friends and strangers come together to enjoy good company, great drinks, and now, a thrilling game of bingo. The revival of bingo in pubs can be attributed to its adaptability and ability to cater to a wide audience. With its simple rules and elements of luck, bingo provides a perfect platform for socializing and creating a sense of community.

Bingo is permitted in pubs under ‘exempt gaming’ provisions within the Gambling Act 2005. Provided it is provided to adults and the premises are licensed for on-sales, with a bar and there are no restaurant-style restrictions.

Here are four top tips to ensure compliance in your pub:

  1. Ensure you stick to the permitted limits for stakes and prizes. The maximum stake per customer on any game of bingo is £5 and no more than £2,000 per week can be taken in stakes or paid out in prizes. Under the exempt gaming provisions, no deductions are permitted from stakes and no participation fees may be charged. Additionally, games of bingo in pub premises cannot be linked to games taking place in other premises. Importantly, bingo in pubs must be non-commercial and no profit can be made from the bingo.
  2. The Gambling Commission has issued a code of practice for equal chance gaming in pubs which applies to bingo. The designated premises supervisor of the premises has a responsibility that the code of practice is adhered to. This includes supervision of games, ensuring age-verification measures are in place and most importantly ensuring a ‘pleasant atmosphere’ for players.
  3. Be vigilant if customers organise and play their own games of bingo while on your premises. Even though their bingo games are not organised by you, customers must stick to the stake and prize limits. If the limits are exceeded, you would be facilitating illegal gambling and could face prosecution or a review of your premises licence on the grounds of crime and disorder.
  4. Mobile bingo - customers may want to use the premises’ free Wi-Fi to play bingo using their mobile phone, tablet or laptop on their own personal account held with another bingo operator. Provided there is no call to action to use the premises’ Wi-Fi to specifically access gambling content on customers' own devices and the Wi-Fi is free for all customers there would be no prohibition here. 

It is important to ensure compliance with the rules and regulations, as both the Gambling Commission and local authorities are proactive in stopping illegal gambling. If you are convicted of facilitating illegal gambling, you could face up to 51 weeks of jail time and/or an unlimited fine for each incident of illegal gambling. While prosecution remains rare, local authorities can seek the removal of any gambling permissions and/or a review of your premises licence.

To conclude, bingo's transformation from community halls to pubs has breathed new life into this age-old game. The fusion of tradition and modernity has made bingo a beloved pastime for a diverse audience. Whether you're a seasoned bingo player or a newcomer looking for a fun night out, bingo in pubs offers a unique and entertaining experience that continues to stand the test of time.

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