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Pub Bingo

Top tips - what you need to consider when running Bingo in your pub

You will have seen articles regarding the litigation between Greene King and the Gambling Commission regarding bingo. The Gambling Commission succeeded in its appeal and as it stands traditional commercial bingo in pubs will not be allowed by the Gambling Commission.

The Greene King litigation relates to commercial bingo but pubs can still provide bingo to their customers for cash or prizes. It is permitted under the Gambling Act 2005 as equal chance exempt gaming. You do not need to obtain permissions. You can just do it.

The exemption applies to all premises which hold an alcohol on-licence, and there are limits and conditions on the provision of the bingo which must be adhered to.

For instance:

  1. You cannot charge the bingo players for participating in the game; you cannot take a rake, levy, charge or deduction from the amounts that the players stake to purchase the cards. All the money paid by the players to buy the bingo cards must go back to the players as prizes;
  2. You cannot have linked games across premises, so you could not have a game linked to other pubs in the area;
  3. Under 18’s are not allowed to play bingo in pubs. Even if Granny is playing with her Grandson, he is not permitted to dab her card as this would be participation in the game.

There are also financial limits:

A player cannot spend more than £5 per game on bingo cards. So if each card costs £1 for each game, the player cannot buy more than 5 cards;

You must ensure that the stakes and prizes do not exceed £2,000 in any seven day period. If you do exceed £2,000 then you must inform the Gambling Commission, and if you exceed £2,000 again in any seven day period, you are committing an offence and you could be putting your Premises Licence at risk.

There is also a Code of Practice published by the Gambling Commission which applies to pubs providing bingo. Responsibility for compliance with the Code of Practice sits with the Designated Premises Supervisor.

The Code of Practice includes the following provisions:

  1. An expectation that all gaming should be “low level” and that the DPS is expected to ensure that this remains the case. The bingo should be ancillary to the main purpose of the premises, which of course it is, you run a pub and bingo is one of the entertainment activities you will be providing to your customers;
  2. The bingo must be supervised by staff;
  3. Age verification procedures must be in place;
  4. The Commission advise that all payments for the bingo cards are paid in cash before the game begins;
  5. All the equipment should be supplied by the premises and should be secured when not in use. Any equipment should be replaced when damaged or marked;
  6. This is my favourite: the DPS should ensure a “pleasant atmosphere” and deny participation to customers who cheat or collude with other players or employees, threaten other players or employees, or damage equipment. The joys of running a pub!

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