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Guidance to licensing authorities

Our guidance for licensing authorities.


1 - Defining clubs

25.1 The Act creates a separate regime for gaming in clubs from that in other relevant alcohol licensed premises. It defines two types of club for the purposes of gaming:

  • members’ clubs (including miners’ welfare institutes)
  • commercial clubs.

This is an important distinction in respect of the gaming that may take place.

Members’ club

25.2 A members’ club is a club that is not established as a commercial enterprise and is conducted for the benefit of its members. Examples include working mens' clubs, miners' welfare institutes, branches of the Royal British Legion and clubs with political affiliations. Members’ clubs may apply to their local licensing authority for club gaming permits and club machine permits. Particular care should be taken when assessing applications for gaming permits which have been used for illegal poker clubs under the guise of members’ clubs. Experience very strongly indicates that taking care at the application stage in robustly checking the credentials of the applicant will save a great deal of time and effort afterwards. If a licensing authority is in any doubt as to the suitability of an applicant they should contact the Commission who will offer the appropriate support, advice and any intelligence that may be available.

25.3 In short, the statutory definition of a members’ club requires that:

  • it must be established and conducted wholly or mainly for purposes other than the provision of facilities for gaming
  • the club satisfies the conditions attached to a club gaming permit
  • they are not commercial clubs that would then be offering gambling illegally.

25.4 The Act states that members’ clubs must have at least 25 members and be established and conducted ‘wholly or mainly’ for purposes other than gaming, unless the gaming is restricted to that of a prescribed kind (currently bridge and whist). Members’ clubs must be permanent in nature but there is no need for a club to have an alcohol licence.

Miners’ welfare institute

25.5 Miners’ welfare institutes are associations established for recreational or social purposes. They are managed by representatives of miners or use premises regulated by a charitable trust which has received funds from one of a number of mining organisations. Miners’ welfare institutes may also apply for club gaming permits and club machine permits.

Commercial club

25.6 A commercial club is a club established for commercial gain, whether or not they are actually making a commercial gain. Examples include commercial snooker clubs, clubs established as private companies and clubs established for personal profit. Commercial clubs may only apply for club machine permits. There are established tests to determine a club’s status (see paragraphs 25.46 to 25.48) but if in doubt, legal advice should be sought.

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Bingo in clubs
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