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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


1 - Introduction

18.1. Bingo is not given a statutory definition in the Act although two types of bingo are commonly understood:

  • cash bingo, where the stakes paid make up the cash prizes that are won
  • prize bingo, where various forms of prizes are won, not directly related to the stakes paid.

18.2. The game and rules of bingo have evolved to the point where, despite the absence of any formal industry standard, the way in which bingo is played is broadly similar throughout Great Britain. Bingo is equal chance gaming. The Commission has published its view of what bingo is and how it differs from other forms of gambling. This can be found in our guidance How bingo is defined (this advice does not form part of the Guidance to licensing authorities).This advice was developed with the support of key stakeholders from the bingo industry.

18.3. Cash bingo is the main type of bingo played in commercial bingo premises. They also offer prize bingo, largely as games played in the intervals between main stage games. This means that only premises with a bingo premises licence, or a large casino premises licence issued under the Act (where the operator holds a bingo as well as a casino operating licence), will be able to offer bingo in all its forms.

18.4. As well as commercial bingo premises, bingo can be found in other gambling premises. Prize bingo is traditionally a game played in arcades, especially seaside amusement arcades, or at travelling funfairs. For these operators, prize bingo is subject to the allowances for prize gaming in the Act. This means that, subject to limits on participation fees and prizes, adult gaming centres, licensed and unlicensed family entertainment centres, and travelling fairs, (or any premises with a prize gaming permit) are able to offer prize gaming, which includes prize bingo. In this form of gaming, the nature of the prize must not be determined by reference to the number of people playing the game, and the nature or the size of the prize must not be determined by reference to the amount paid for or raised by the gaming. See Part 27 of this guidance for a fuller discussion of prize gaming.

18.5. Licensing authorities need to satisfy themselves that bingo can be played in any bingo premises for which they issue a premises licence. An operator may choose to vary their licence to exclude a previously licensed area of that premises, and then apply for a new premises licence, or multiple new premises licences, with the aim of creating separate premises in that area. Essentially providing multiple licensed premises within a single building or site. Before issuing additional bingo premises licences, licensing authorities need to consider whether bingo can be played at each of those new premises.

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Protection of children and young persons
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