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Guidance to licensing authorities

The Gambling Commission's guidance for licensing authorities.


6 - Non-commercial ‘casino night’

28.19. A non-commercial casino night is an event where participants stake money on casino-style games, such as poker or roulette, at a non-commercial event, where none of the money the organisers raise from the event is used for private gain.

28.20. Apart from reasonable costs, proceeds (including any entrance fees, sponsorship, the difference between stakes placed and pay-out made):

  • must not be used for private gain
  • must all be given to a good cause.

Reasonable costs would include costs incurred by providing the prizes. If third parties are selling goods or services at the event, this does not count as money raised for the charity or good cause and can be retained by that third party.

28.21. A non-commercial casino night can be run without a licence, or any other form of permission, providing the operation of the gaming falls into one of the three categories discussed below.

28.22. Organisers should note that, under the Act, it is illegal to organise a commercial casino night outside of a licensed casino. However an application can be made for a temporary use notice (TUN) in respect of other premises to offer gaming on a commercial basis, so far as the appropriate operating licence covers the proposed activities in the application, but then only in respect of equal chance gaming organised on a tournament basis with a single overall winner (SI No 3157/2007: The Gambling Act 2005 (Temporary Use Notices) Regulations 2007) (opens in new tab). There can, however, be more than one competition with a single winner held at the individual event covered by a specific TUN.

Casino night as non-commercial prize gaming

28.23. Casino nights can be held as non-commercial prize gaming19. The players must be told what good cause will benefit from the profits of the gaming before placing a bet. The prizes must be advertised in advance and must not depend on the number of people playing or the stakes raised. In non-commercial prize gaming, the casino gaming determines the individual winner or winners, for example by counting who has the most casino chips at a set time. The winners are then awarded the prizes that have been advertised in advance.

Casino night as non-commercial equal chance gaming

28.24. Casino nights can also be run as non-commercial equal chance gaming20, where the chances are equally favourable to all participants and players are not competing against a bank. In non-commercial equal chance gaming, the charitable funds are usually raised through an entrance fee, participation fee, or through other payments related to the gaming. The maximum amount that a player may be charged is £8 per day which includes entrance or participation fees, stakes and any other payments in relation to the gaming. Organisers must ensure that the total amount paid out in prizes remains below £600 in total across all players. However, 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 allowed.

Casino night as private gaming

28.25. A casino night may also be run under the private gaming provisions in the Act. Private gaming may only occur in a place to which the public does not have access, normally a private dwelling, hostel, hall of residence or similar establishment. No charge may be made for participation in private gaming including an entrance fee or other charge for admission, nor may any amounts be deducted from stakes or prizes. No profits can be made from private gaming, irrespective of how the organiser intended to use those profits and, thus, even if intended for charitable purposes.

28.26. Private gaming is restricted to equal chance gaming except where it is domestic or residential gaming.

28.27. Private gaming can potentially take place on commercial premises in circumstances where a members’ club hires a room in, for example, a pub or hotel for a private function where equal chance gaming only is played. However, organisers would need to scrutinise very carefully the arrangements put in place, as detailed at paragraph 28.11 above.

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