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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


5 - Bingo in clubs and alcohol-licensed premises

18.13. Bingo is a class of equal chance gaming permitted on alcohol-licensed premises, and in clubs and miners’ welfare institutes, under the allowances for exempt gaming in Part 12 of the Act. There are regulations setting controls on this form of gaming, to ensure that it remains a low stakes and prizes activity (SI 2007/1940: The Gambling Act 2005 (Exempt Gaming in Alcohol-Licensed Premises) Regulations 2007 (opens in new tab) and SI No. 1944; The Gambling Act 2005 (Exempt Gaming in Clubs) Regulations 2007 (opens in new tab)).

18.14. In addition, rules are laid down in the Act about the playing of bingo specifically in alcohol-licensed premises, clubs and miners’ welfare institutes12. Where the level of bingo played in these premises reaches a certain threshold, it will no longer be authorised by these rules and a bingo operating licence will have to be obtained from the Commission for future bingo games. Even in this circumstance, bingo can still only be offered under the rules for exempt gaming. The aim of these provisions is to prevent bingo becoming a predominant commercial activity on such non-gambling premises.

18.15. The threshold is reached if the bingo played during any seven-day period exceeds £2,000 (either in money taken or prizes awarded) once in a year, referred to as ‘high turnover bingo’. There is a legal duty on the licensee or club to inform the Commission if they offer high turnover bingo in any seven day period. This allows the Commission to monitor the bingo activity on the premises and discuss with the relevant licensee or club the point at which a bingo operating licence may be needed. A ‘high turnover period’ begins with the first day of the seven day period in which the threshold was exceeded and lasts for a year. If a second period of high turnover bingo occurs within that year, a bingo operating licence will be required. Where bingo is played in a members club under a bingo operating licence no premises licence will be required.

18.16. If it comes to the attention of licensing authorities that alcohol-licensed premises or clubs or institutes are playing bingo during the course of a week which involves significant stakes and prizes, that makes it possible that the £2,000 in seven days is being exceeded, authorities should inform the Commission. To help clubs and institutes to comply with the full range of statutory requirements for gaming, the Commission has developed a statutory code of practice The Code of Practice for gaming in clubs and premises with an alcohol licence.

18.17. The eight large casinos will be able to offer bingo. Bingo will be permitted as part of their casino premises licence and they will not require a separate bingo premises licence, though they will need to obtain a bingo operating licence (which may be combined with their casino licence) in order to offer facilities for bingo at a casino. The standards in this respect will be no lower than for operators seeking only to provide facilities for bingo alone.

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