Guidance to licensing authorities
- Changes to the Guidance for Licensing Authorities
- Part 1: General guidance on the role and responsibilities of licensing authorities in gambling regulation
- Part 2: The licensing framework
- Part 3: The Gambling Commission
- Part 4: Licensing authorities
- Part 5: Principles to be applied by licensing authorities
- Part 6: Licensing authority policy statement
- Part 7: Premises licences
- Part 8: Responsible authorities and interested parties definitions
- Part 9: Premises licence conditions
- Part 10: Review of premises licence by licensing authority
- Part 11: Provisional statements
- Part 12: Rights of appeal and judicial review
- Part 13: Information exchange
- Part 14: Temporary use notices
- Part 15: Occasional use notices
- Part 16: Gaming machines
- Part 17: Casinos
- Part 18: Bingo
- Part 19: Betting premises
- Part 20: Tracks
- Part 21: Adult gaming centres
- Part 22: Licensed family entertainment centres
- Part 23: Introduction to permits
- Part 24: Unlicensed family entertainment centres
- Part 25: Clubs
- Part 26: Premises licensed to sell alcohol
- Part 27: Prize gaming and prize gaming permits
- Part 28: Non-commercial and private gaming, betting and lotteries
- Part 29: Poker
- Part 30: Travelling fairs
- Part 31: Crown immunity and excluded premises
- Part 32: Territorial application of the Gambling Act 2005
- Part 33: Door supervision
- Part 34: Small society lotteries
- Part 35: Chain gift schemes
- Part 36: Compliance and enforcement matters
- Appendix A: Summary of machine provisions by premises
- Appendix B: Summary of gaming machine categories and entitlements
- Appendix C: Summary of gaming entitlements for clubs and alcohol-licensed premises
- Appendix D: Summary of offences under the Gambling Act 2005
- Appendix E: Summary of statutory application forms and notices
- Appendix F: Inspection powers
- Appendix G: Licensing authority delegations
- Appendix H: Poker games and prizes
- Appendix I: Glossary of terms
4 - Exempt gaming
25.10. Exempt gaming is generally permissible in any club. Such gaming must be equal chance gaming and be ancillary to the purposes of the club. This provision is automatically available to all such premises but is subject to statutory stakes and prize limits determined by the Secretary of State.
25.11. Equal chance gaming is gaming that does not involve staking against a bank and the chances of winning are equally favourable to all participants. It includes games such as backgammon, mah-jong, rummy, kalooki, dominoes, cribbage, bingo and poker.
25.12. The Secretary of State has set both daily and weekly prize limits for exempt gaming. Different higher stakes and prizes are allowed for exempt gaming in clubs than are allowed in alcohol-licensed premises (SI No 1944/2007: The Gambling Act 2005 (Exempt Gaming in Clubs) Regulations 2007 (opens in new tab)). These limits are set out in Appendix C to this guidance.
25.13. Exempt gaming should comply with any code of practice issued by the Commission under s.24 of the Act.
25.14. Clubs may levy a charge for participation in equal chance gaming under the exempt gaming rules. The amount they may charge is as prescribed in regulations (SI No1944/2007: The Gambling Act 2005 (Exempt Gaming in Clubs) Regulations 2007) (opens in new tab). See Appendix C for further details.
25.15. In order to qualify as exempt gaming, clubs may not charge a rake on games (a commission or fee deducted from the prize fund), or levy or deduct an amount from stakes or winnings.
25.16. Members’ clubs may only be established wholly or mainly for the purposes of the provision of facilities for gaming, if the gaming is of a prescribed kind. Currently, bridge and whist are the only prescribed kinds of gaming (SI No 1942/2007: The Gambling Act 2005 (Gaming in Clubs) Regulations 2007 (opens in new tab)). So long as it does not provide facilities for other types of gaming, a club established wholly or mainly for the purposes of the provision of facilities for gaming (currently bridge and whist) may apply for a club gaming permit. In any other case, if gaming is the main purpose of the club, that gaming cannot be treated as exempt gaming under s.269 of the Act. For example, if poker was the main purpose of the club, it could not be provided as exempt gaming.
25.17. The gaming offered must not be linked to gaming in other premises and no person under 18 may participate in the gaming.
25.18. Gaming which meets these conditions needs no permission from the licensing authority. However, if an authority believes that these conditions are being breached, it has a power to remove the exemption and ban gaming in a specific pub or club. Examples of potential breaches include:
- poker prize limits being exceeded on a regular basis
- a rake being applied to a poker game
- the siting of illegal gaming machines
- failure to adhere to other exemptions and codes.
25.19. The Commission has issued a code of practice under s.24 of the Act in respect of exempt equal chance gaming.
25.20. The code of practice requires owners and/or licensees to adopt good practice measures for the provision of gaming in general and poker in particular. The code also sets out the stakes and prizes limits and the limits on participation fees laid out in regulations.
25.21. The emphasis of the regulations and the code of practice is on self-regulation by the management of the premises and licensing authorities should take a strong line in cases where breaches are detected. There are a number of powers available to licensing authorities in circumstances where breaches have been committed including:
- attaching additional conditions to the premises licence
- withdrawal of the permit
- removal of automatic machine entitlement, attached to alcohol licence
- review of the alcohol licence.
Betting in clubs Next section
Protection of children and young persons
Last updated: 14 September 2023
Show updates to this content