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Exempt gaming in pubs

Where it can take place

Generally, in any alcohol-licensed premises, such as pubs and bars.

You do not need a licence for this kind of gaming.

What you must do

You must make sure:

  • the game is played as an equal chance game (essentially all players must have the same chance of winning)
  • children and under 18s do not take part
  • total stakes and prizes for the game do not exceed £2,000 in a 7 day period. Otherwise, this will be classed as ‘high turnover’ bingo. If this happens, you’ll need to tell us. If it happens more than once, then you’ll need a licence
  • the stake limit is £5 per person, per game
  • all stakes are returned as prizes.

What you can’t do

You can’t:

  • Make a profit from the game - even if you intend to donate the profits to charity or good causes
  • charge any participation fees – or any kind of admission fee
  • run ‘linked’ games with players on other premises. For example, you cannot run a linked game between two chain pubs, based in two different locations
  • deduct from or ‘levy’ on money staked or won by players in the game. It doesn’t matter if the charge is voluntary or compulsory
  • play the bingo virtually, or online in any way.

Example

The owner of a nightclub wants to run a bingo night. The club’s premises already has an alcohol licence and only adults are allowed in the club. The total stakes and prizes for the bingo will be less than £2,000. All stakes will be returned as prizes. The owner of the club will give free entry to the club for the bingo night and there won’t be any other charges for people to take part.

The maximum stake is charged at £5 per person per game. All the money raised from the bingo night will be given back as prizes. Guests will still be able to buy drinks and pay for them as usual.

If you're holding bingo as part of a wider event

You can charge admission costs for the overall entertainment. However, you can't charge participation fees, or any kind of entry fees for the bingo.

Scenario

A pub landlady wants to hold an entertainment evening. She plans to offer entertainment a live band, quiz and a game of bingo. The landlady can charge an entry fee – for instance £10 – for the event as a whole and make a profit from the fee. However, people who will be playing bingo must be able to enter the pub without paying the entry fee. Some venues have a separate area where people can join in with bingo for free, but they can’t access the other entertainment, in order to do this.

For example, the landlady can use a function room for the bingo which people will access for free (or, to pay a maximum of £5 stake per person, per game). However, guests won’t be able to access the main pub to watch the band or take part in the quiz without paying the £10 entry fee.

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Exempt gaming in clubs and miners' welfare institutes
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Bingo at a premises: prize gaming
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