Pubs and clubs toolkit
Working closely with local police, our compliance managers and local groups like PubWatch to get that message out is key to preventing the need for enforcement action.
But when it is required those who are facilitating betting or those exceeding exempt gaming limits in alcohol licensed premises can have the exemption which permits gaming in pubs removed, have their alcohol licence reviewed, be cautioned, ordered to carry out unpaid work, ordered to pay costs or fined.
Working with HMRC to ensure any tax issues are also addressed can be an extra deterrent.
Pubs and clubs - case studies
Working with HMRC on illegal betting in pubs
A pub in St. Helens was subject to a multi-agency operation and subsequent investigation involving officers from St. Helens Council, the Gambling Commission, Merseyside Police and HM Revenue & Customs (opens in new tab).
The pub manager pleaded guilty to providing illegal gambling under s37 of the Gambling Act 2005 (opens in new tab) at St. Helens Magistrates Court. He was sentenced to 100 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £930.
HMRC also imposed back-dated tax of £2,952 and penalties totalling £9,750 for general betting duty, failure to declare betting income and submit betting duty returns.
Bookmaker and pub landlord fined for illegal betting
DSL Betting (Cumbria) Ltd 
Cumbria police entered pub premises and found the landlord at a table with racing papers, betting slips, a mobile phone, drinks and pens. He had been recording horse racing bets for customers.
The case was prosecuted by Allerdale Borough Council who were supported in their enforcement action by both the Gambling Commission and Cumbria police. The landlord and bookmaker pleaded guilty to two counts:
- aiding and abetting the use of premises to provide facilities for betting when no appropriate licence was in force
- providing facilities for gaming not holding a licence or being exempt.
The betting company, which no longer operates any betting premises, was fined a total of £4,500 and ordered to pay court costs of £625 and a £15 victim’s surcharge.
Member of the public or member of a club?
Panama (Piccadilly) Ltd v Newberry 
This case relates to whether a person ceases to be a member of the public merely because they have agreed to become a member of a club.
In a case (which related to a strip show), it was held that a person would not cease to be a member of the public as there was no evidence of any selective process or rule which enabled the selection of members, there was no sufficient segregation that would prevent members of the club from continuing to be members of the public.
Illegal lotteries in pubs
A scheme in which customers purchase a £1 raffle ticket and a draw takes place each week with the winning customer invited to choose one of the envelopes pinned to the wall behind the bar, was identified as an illegal lottery.
Each of the envelopes contain a playing card with any card other than the joker resulting in the customer winning £30. Should the card picked be the joker, the customer wins the jackpot. The jackpot is an amount over £30 which is paid out weekly (in effect a rollover).
Based on the fact that the company was deriving no financial profit from the scheme it was decided that the promotion may be operated as a customer lottery subject to a meeting the requirements for that type of exempt lottery:
- A customer lottery or raffle can only be run by a business for its customers at the time they are on the business premises
- Tickets must not be sold to children under 16 years of age
- No prize can be more than £50 in value
- No rollover of prizes from one lottery to another is permitted
- Only one lottery draw is permitted in each period of seven days
- Tickets must display the required information (they cannot be a cloakroom ticket)
The lottery may only be advertised on the premises where tickets are sold No profit can be made (customers lotteries are not suitable for fundraising). Further information may be found our guidance note Organising small lotteries.
Torbay council advised licensees to ensure that the changes required to the scheme were implemented with immediate effect. Any monies in the jackpot above the prescribed limit of £50 maximum prize per draw being returned to customers.
Bingo in pubs and clubs
Bingo can be offered on alcohol licensed premises, members' clubs, miners’ welfare institutes and commercial clubs without an operating licence. However, the games must:
- be for adults only
- not be linked with games played on other premises.
There are limits on the amount which can be charged for participation:
|With a club gaming permit||With a club machine permit||WITHOUT either a club gaming permit or club machine permit|
|Members' clubs||£3 maximum, per person, per day||£1 maximum, per person, per day||£1 maximum, per person, per day|
|Miners welfare institutes||£3 maximum, per person, per day||£1 maximum, per person, per day||£1 maximum, per person, per day|
|Commercial clubs||Not available||£3 maximum, per person, per day||£1 maximum, per person, per day|
Pubs must ensure that:
- no participation fee is charged
- they remain within the stake limit of charging a maximum of £5 per person, per game.
Both alcohol licensed premises and clubs must ensure they do not exceed the maximum of £2,000 per week in stakes/prizes. Those wishing to exceed this limit need to apply for a bingo operating licence.
Bingo as prize gaming
When we say ‘prize gaming’ we mean neither the nature nor the size of the prize is determined by:
- the number of people playing
- the amount paid for or raised by the game.
You can run bingo as a prize game without the need for a bingo operating licence in adult gaming centres, family entertainment centres, unlicensed family entertainment centres and travelling fairs.
To comply with the rules for prize gaming, the bingo games offered in these venues must:
- have a maximum stake of £1 and a prize worth no more than £70 per game
- offer no more than £500 of prizes per game
- have no more than £500 in stakes per game.
Club gaming and machine permits
Information about the renewal process for club gaming and club machine permits.
Club gaming permit (CGP)
A club gaming permit is available to members’ clubs or miners’ welfare institutes, but not commercial clubs. It allows the club to offer:
- equal chance gaming such as poker and bingo
- games of chance (pontoon and chemin de fer only)
- up to three gaming machines in total of categories B3A, B4, C or D, but by agreement, only one machine can be of category B3A.
Restrictions on the gaming are:
- no limits on stakes and prizes, except bingo where there is a stakes and prizes limit of £2,000 in any seven day period
- limit on participation fees per person per day - £20 for bridge and or whist (if played on a day on which no facilities of any kinds of gaming (other than bridge or whist) are provided by the relevant club on that day), £3 for other gaming (including poker) in any other circumstances
Club machine permit (CMP)
A club machine permit is available to members’ clubs, miners’ welfare institutes, and commercial clubs. It allows the club to offer:
- equal chance gaming such as poker and bingo
- up to three gaming machines in total of categories B3A, B4, C or D, but by agreement, only one machine can be of category B3A (B3A not permitted for commercial clubs).
Restrictions on the gaming are:
- limit on stakes and prizes for bingo is £2,000 in any seven day period
- limit on stakes for poker - £10 per person per game, within a premises limit of £250 in stakes per day and £1,000 per week
- limit on prizes for poker - £250 per game
- limit on participation fees per person per day - £18 for bridge/whist (if played on a day on which no facilities of any kind of gaming (other than bridge or whist) are provided by the relevant club on that day), £1 for other gaming (including poker), £3 where it’s a commercial club.
Duration of club gaming and machine permits
A club gaming permit or club machine permit lasts for ten years unless it ceases to have effect because it is surrendered or lapses. Permits that were first granted under the Act in 2007 will expire in 2017 unless renewed.
However, in England and Wales a club gaming or machine permit that was granted under a fast track procedure (by those clubs with Club Premises Certificates under the Licensing Act 2003 (opens in new tab) ) does NOT expire and only ceases to have effect if it is surrendered, cancelled or forfeited or it lapses because the club premises certificate is not in place.
Whilst fast-track permits do not expire, you may wish to use the opportunity to undertake an audit of those clubs that hold fast-track permits and ensure they are meeting the criteria of a bona fide club and are therefore eligible to hold a CGP or CMP.
There is no fast-track procedure in Scotland, and so all CGPs and CMPs will need to be renewed after ten years.
A club or machine permit will not cease to have effect whilst a renewal application is pending, or an appeal against a decision not to renew is pending.
Renewal of club machine and gaming permits
An application for the renewal of a CGP or CMP must be made during the period beginning three months before the permit expires and ending six weeks before it expires. So for example, if the club gaming or machine permit was issued on 1 October 2007, the applicant would need to apply for renewal between 1 July 2017 and 20 August 2017.
Renewal process and costs
Although set out in different regulations, the process for renewal is the same in Scotland as in England and Wales unless specified.
The process for CGP and CMP renewal is exactly the same as for a new application. The renewal fee for clubs is also the same as for a new application (£200).
However a club in England or Wales that originally applied for a CGP or CMP under the normal application process (not fast-tracked) because it did not hold a club premises certificate at that time, but has since secured a club premises certificate, will then renew at the fast-track (reduced) fee of £100.
Renewal application form
There is a statutory application (or renewal) form for CGPs or CMPs in England and Wales.
The application form for club permits in Scotland is slightly different and is available on the Legislation website (opens in new tab). The application must be sent to the LA and the police for the area where the premises is located.
We provided guidance on the sort information you should expect to receive with your renewal applications.
And similar permit renewal guidance for Scotland.
We’ve also produced a template renewal reminder letter, which you may wish to adapt to suit your local circumstances.
There are also statutory forms to be used when the renewal permit is issued in England and Wales Form of club gaming permit and Form of club machine permit. Again these forms are slightly different in Scotland (Form of club gaming permit (opens in new tab) and Form of club machine permit (Scotland) (opens in new tab)). These permits must be kept on the club premises.
Information that should accompany the permit application form
Whilst the application form itself does not ask for evidence of how ‘club’ status is being achieved, you must be satisfied that the information provided by the applicant demonstrates that the premises meets the necessary requirements to be either a members’ club/miners welfare institute or a commercial club. See Members club or commercial club?
The distinction between the two types of club is important as it reflects the type of gaming that is permitted. Genuine members’ clubs can apply for a club gaming permit or a club machine permit, while commercial clubs can only apply for a club machine permit.
Clubs must also demonstrate that they are complying with the statutory codes of practice, namely, the Code of practice for equal chance gaming in clubs and premises with an alcohol licence and the Code of practice for gaming machines in clubs and premises with an alcohol licence.
Making a visit to the club
The process for renewal is the same as a new application. You are, therefore, afforded a unique opportunity to visit the premises in question (as once granted, your powers of entry are limited).
Some CGPs were applied for and granted in error when the first set of permits were issued, and in many cases the applicant only ever wanted to obtain the machine entitlement (in other words a CMP) and not necessarily the unlimited stakes and prizes games that are permitted under CGP.
We would encourage you to take the opportunity to visit the club premises before granting the renewal, to better understand how the club has been, and intends to continue operating and whether indeed they are applying for the appropriate permit.
Refusing the renewal of a permit
You may grant or refuse a permit but you may not attach conditions to a permit.
A renewal application can be refused on the same grounds a new application:
- the applicant does not fulfil the requirements for a members’ or commercial club or miners’ welfare institute and therefore is not entitled to receive the type of permit for which it has applied
- the applicant’s premises are used wholly or mainly by children and/or young persons
- an offence under the Gambling Act 2005 (opens in new tab) or a breach of a permit has been committed by the applicant while providing gaming facilities
- a permit held by the applicant has been cancelled in the previous ten years
- an objection has been lodged by the Gambling Commission or the police.
If you are in any doubt on receipt of a renewal application for a club gaming or machine permit please consult your local compliance manager.
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Last updated: 2 July 2021
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