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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


2 - Non-commercial gaming

28.3. The Act permits non-commercial gaming if it takes place at a non-commercial event, either as an incidental or principal activity at the event. Events are non-commercial if no part of the proceeds is for private profit or gain. The proceeds of such events may benefit one or more individuals if the activity is organised:

  • by, or on behalf of, a charity or for charitable purposes
  • to enable participation in, or support of, sporting, athletic or cultural activities.

28.4. So, it would be possible to raise funds providing the proceeds were, for example, to support a local hospital appeal or a charitable sporting endeavour. Additionally, events such as race nights or casino nights may be permitted if they comply with the regulations and profits go to a good cause.

28.5. S.297(3) of the Act defines proceeds of an event as:

  1. the sums raised by the organisers, whether by way of fees for entrance or for participation, sponsorship, commission from traders, or otherwise minus
  2. amounts deducted by the organisers in respect of costs reasonably incurred in organising the event.

However, sums raised by other persons will not form part of the proceeds of the event and may be appropriated for private gain. An example would be refreshments provided at the event by an independent third party.

28.6. If someone uses any profits from non-commercial gaming for something other than the specified purpose, then they commit an offence under s.301 of the Act, which can result in a fine or imprisonment.

28.7. The Act identifies two types of permissible non-commercial gaming:

  • prize gaming which must comply with the conditions set out in s.299 of the Act
  • equal chance gaming which must comply with the conditions set out in s.300 of the Act and the conditions prescribed in regulations.

Non-commercial prize gaming

28.8. An organiser does not need to have an operating or premises licence nor a prize gaming permit, provided that the conditions in s.299 are met, namely:

  • players are told that the purpose of the gaming is to raise money for a specified charitable, sporting, athletic or cultural purpose
  • profits are not for private gain
  • the event cannot take place in a venue (other than a track) which has a premises licence. If at a track, the premises licence cannot be in use (in effect no betting can be taking place) and no temporary use notice can have effect
  • the gaming must be on the premises and not be remote gaming17.

28.9. In these circumstances, prize gaming occurs if the nature and size of the prize is not determined by the number of people playing or the amount paid for or raised by the gaming. Normally the prizes will be determined by the operator before play commences.

Non-commercial equal chance gaming

28.10. The conditions set out under s.300 are as follows:

  • All players must be told what purpose the money raised from the gaming is going to be used for – which must be something other than private gain – and the profits must be applied for that purpose.
  • The gaming must also comply with regulations (SI No 2041/2007: The Gambling Act 2005 (Non-Commercial Equal Chance Gaming) Regulations 2007) (opens in new tab):
  • limiting the maximum payment each player can be required to make to participate in all games at an event to £8
  • limiting the aggregate amount or value of prizes in all games played at an event to £600, although where an event is the final one of a series in which all of the players have previously taken part, a higher prize fund of up to £900 is permitted
  • The non-commercial event cannot take place on premises (other than a track) which hold a premises licence, nor on a track at a time when activities are being carried on in reliance on a premises licence, nor on premises at a time when activities are being carried on in reliance on a temporary use notice. There is nothing to stop such premises running charitable or other gambling events to raise money for good causes, but they should do so using the gambling permissions granted to them by their premises licence or use notice. The one exception to this is that a non-commercial event can take place at a track, provided no licensed gambling activities are taking place at the same time. This enables a track to be used for non-commercial gambling when races are not taking place
  • The gaming must be non-remote gaming18. In other words, the authorisation can only apply to gaming which takes place at events, on premises, and for gaming in person.
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