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Suspected illegal poker clubs across the country continue to be targeted in a campaign on tackling unlawful gambling. In the latest round, three members’ clubs have been forced to stop providing poker as a result of investigations by local authorities with support from the Gambling Commission. 

The Fifth Street Card Club in Borehamwood had its Club Gaming Permit withdrawn as the club was unable to demonstrate it was being run in ‘good faith’ in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003, and the Royal Surrey Social Club in Morden, Surrey has stopped their poker activities after local council officials discovered poker was being played illegally in exceeding prescribed limits. A new application for the Palms of Enfield club was rejected by the local council on a number of grounds including concerns about illegal poker, but may be subject to an appeal.

It brings the number of clubs to ten that have been forced to either close down or stop playing poker since Hackney Council rejected an appeal in July 2012 by the International Private Members Club against the removal of a club gaming permit and club premises certificate from a premises offering poker in Hackney. See notes to editors for the list of the ten clubs.

In other areas licensing authorities are starting to refuse gaming permits due to concerns that applicants were suspected of intending to run illegal poker clubs.

“These ten cases show local authorities have the means and the determination to tackle concerns about illegal poker in whatever guise it is presented," said Nick Tofiluk, the Commission’s Director of Regulatory Operations.

“We are committed to working closely in support of local authorities in dealing with such matters.  LAs now have considerable experience in this field and we will continue to promote good practice while dealing effectively with illegal poker clubs. The message is simple - if you offer poker in a club which falls outside the rules for exempt gaming, or offer commercial poker  you are breaking the law.”

Under the Gambling Act 2005, commercial high-stakes poker is restricted to licensed casinos. Whilst poker can be played in members’ clubs, there are various restrictions depending on whether there is a club gaming permit in place,  as well as conditions on participation fees and stake and prize limits. Further, the main purpose of the club cannot be gambling.

Ends

Notes to editors

  1. The Gambling Commission (the Commission) regulates gambling in the public interest alongside its co-regulators local licensing authorities. It does so by keeping crime out of gambling, by ensuring that gambling is conducted fairly and openly, and by protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling. Subject to these overriding public protection objectives, as regulator of the National Lottery the Commission monitors and challenges Camelot to raise the maximum amount for good causes. The Commission also provides independent advice to government on gambling in Britain. 
  2. The Commission and local licensing authorities are responsible for licensing and regulating all gambling in Great Britain other than spread betting, which is the responsibility of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
  3. See the Terms & Conditions section of our website for information on legal advice.
  4. The ten clubs are:
    • Fifth Street Card Club
    • Borehamwood Royal Surrey Social Club
    • Morden Palms of Enfield
    • Big Slick, Portsmouth
    • The Full House, Reigate
    • Big Bluff, Enfield
    • Hove Mind Sports Club
    • Hastings Terrace Club
    • Duffs Full House, various locations
    • The International Private Members Club, Hackney.
  5. Under the Gambling Act 2005, commercial high-stakes poker is restricted to licensed casinos. The Commission provides support and expertise on gambling regulation to local authorities who concentrate on gambling issues of high impact locally. The Commission’s major focus is on issues of regional or national significance.
  6. The Commission’s Local Authority Liaison Unit has worked with many local authorities to help them tackle local issues with illicit poker. Last month a club in Portsmouth was closed down.
  7. The Commission has issued quick guides on Poker in clubs and advice to distinguish between Members clubs and commercial clubs.  

For further information please contact our press office on (0121) 230 6700 or email communications@gamblingcommission.gov.uk.

Posted on 05 March 2014