There is no legal definition of bingo under the Gambling Act 2005 (opens in new tab). However, we have worked with industry stakeholders to define three fundamental principles of bingo.
- "Bingo must be played as an equal chance game." Essentially, all players must have the same chance of winning.
- "Bingo must involve a degree of participation". For example, players marking their cards, or claiming to have won.
- "Bingo games must have a clearly defined end point." The end of the game should be clearly communicated to players.
Read more about how bingo is defined.
When you need a licence
Generally, you need a licence from us to provide bingo to players for commercial gain in Great Britain.
You must have a licence if you want to run any kind of online or 'remote' bingo, such as using gambling websites and apps.
Your licence must cover the appropriate activity. If you are providing bingo from a premises, you'll also need a licence from the local licensing authority where the premises will be located.
When you may not need a licence
There are some exceptions where you do not need a licence to run bingo, including bingo for fundraising.
Read our guide on how to run bingo legally to find out the rules for the type of gaming you plan to run and whether you'll need a licence or permit.
Licences and Fees
There are different types of licences that bingo businesses may need to apply for.
You may need more than one of the following:
- operating licence
- personal management licence
- premises licence
- Annex A declaration for small-scale operators.
We issue operating licences and personal licences. Premises licences are issued by local licensing authorities.
You'll need an operating licence to provide bingo to players in bingo halls and remote bingo services where people pay to play.
Types of operating licence
An operating licence allows you to provide gambling activities to customers in Great Britain.
You can apply to us for a licence to provide bingo games in a premises (non-remote) or online (remote).
If you are hosting bingo games for other licensed operators to provide to players, you will need a game host licence.
Non-remote licence activities
The fees you need to pay depend on what you are applying for, and what your anticipated gross gambling yield (GGY) is.
Calculating your fees
Our online fees calculator can help you with understanding the amounts of your application, first annual and annual fees.
Personal management licences
Personal management licences allow people to work in certain roles in a gambling business.
Some businesses do not require personal licences to be held. Instead, you need to submit Annex A Declarations. These are required for businesses with three employees or less.
Annex A Declaration
If your business qualifies as a small-scale operator, you can submit an Annex A declaration instead of applying for a personal management licence.
You'll need a premises licence to provide bingo to players in a non-remote setting. For example, at a bingo hall.
You must apply to the licensing authority the premises is located in to get a premises licence.
You'll need to apply for an operating licence before you apply for any premises licences.
Information from other websites
We are not responsible for content on external websites. These links will open in a new tab.
Legislation and Policies
Gambling in Great Britain and the Gambling Commission's duties and responsibilities are detailed in the Gambling Act 2005.
The following legislation and policies are also applicable to operating licence holders.
Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP)
The LCCP outlines the requirements that all operating and personal licence holders must follow.
Policies and guidance
The following guidance and policies are also relevant for all licensees.
Other guidance and information
Bingo-specific guidance and information.
Equipment technical requirements
These technical requirements will regulate bingo and casino equipment in two different situations:
- equipment that is used on premises in Great Britain to provide casino games, and
- bingo games to the public and equipment used to provide such games in gambling premises by means of a remote communication system, where the provider is regulated by the Act.
These Requirements cover a variety of equipment including a 'live' roulette wheel and bingo tickets. They do not cover gaming machines.
Getting a licence
You can apply online for a licence from us to provide bingo activities.
A bingo application can take up to 6 months to process depending on the complexity of your business.
You will need to apply for an operating licence, before you apply for a premises licence from the local licensing authority.
Information you'll need for your application
We will ask you to provide information about you and your business as part of your licence application.
For bingo licence applications, this includes:
- ownership and management structure diagrams
- copies of your policies and procedures in relation to your obligations under the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP)
- customer terms and conditions
- rules of play
- bank statements, audited accounts, annual returns and proof of source of funds
- technical diagrams, software supply methods and infrastructure diagrams for remote operating applications
- details of shareholders.
You will be able to upload electronic copies of documents as part of your application.
Unless we ask you to, do not send documents to us in the post.
You can use our online service to apply for an operating licence.
If you have not used the service before, you'll need an email address only you can access to be able to create an account.
Make sure you include all the information we ask for when you submit your application. If your application is rejected because something is missing, we will not refund your application fee.
Assessing your application
If your application is rejected
We will send you a letter explaining which documents are missing and you'll need to reapply online.
You must provide the missing documents, as well as the documents you included originally, and you will need to pay the application fee again.
If we grant you a licence to run a gambling business, you will be able to download a copy of your licence from eServices.
You must make your licence available for inspection by request from Gambling Commission staff, licensing authority staff or other official bodies such as the police or fire service.
When you hold a licence
An important part of the Gambling Commission’s work is to ensure that licence holders are compliant.
To be compliant as a licence holder, you must understand and act in accordance with:
- the Gambling Act 2005
- regulations (statutory instruments) made under the Gambling Act 2005
- the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP)
- any technical standards that apply to operating licences.
Compliance activity is based on risk and the risk that each licensed activity poses to the Gambling Commission’s licensing objectives.
The three licensing objectives are:
- keeping crime out of gambling
- ensuring gambling is conducted fairly and openly
- protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
Guidance and information for running a compliant gambling business. Including information on how we carry out assessments, your responsibilities under the LCCP and other gambling-related legislation.
All operating licence holders are required to submit regulatory returns to the Commission on a quarterly or annual basis, depending on the type of licence and activities held.
What you need to tell us
You are required to tell us about certain things that happen in your business, these are dependent on the licences and activities you hold.
We provide details of all businesses and individuals we licence on our Public Register service.
When you are issued a licence, we will display the details of your licence on the register.
- your head office address
- details of the activities you are licensed for and from when
- domain and trading names you've told us about, and
- details of any regulatory action that has been carried out.
Display of licensed status
If you hold a remote licence, the gambling websites and apps you provide must show details about your licence and link to your public register licence information.
This is a condition of your licence under LCCP Condition 8 - Display of licensed status.
Making changes to your licence
You can make most changes to your licence online, using eServices.
- add or remove licence activities
- change the activity fee category up or down
- add or remove management or key people in the business
- add or remove trading names
- add or remove domain names for websites where you provide gambling.
Some of these changes require you to pay a fee.
Surrendering your licence
If you no longer need your licence, you can surrender it.