Published: 11 June 2015
Q: A new group of customers have regularly started coming to my pub and playing dominoes. It’s great, as they tend to come on quieter weekday afternoons but I’ve noticed they play for money and I’m not sure it’s legal. What’s the legal position?
A: Your customers can play dominoes for money or indeed any equal chance gaming, for cash in your pub. It is important to know the limits and the conditions for playing.
Dominoes is permitted in pubs under the Gambling Act 2005 as exempt gaming. This means you do not have to notify anyone of the game. They can just play.
The regulations place certain limits on stakes and prizes for equal chance gaming. All exempt gaming is expected to be ‘low level’ and the designated person, who is defined as the DPS, is expected to take all reasonable steps to ensure that this remains the case. Gaming in pubs should be ancillary to the main purpose of the premises – the gaming should not be the main reason to go to the premises.
The general rules are that there can be no charge for participating, nor a charge or levy or deduction from the stakes or prizes. Neither can there be linked games across premises. Under 18’s cannot participate. The first limit on the exempt gaming is that the maximum amount that can be staked by a player on any game is £5 but interestingly this limit does not apply to dominoes or cribbage.
There are no limits on the amounts that can be won (although there are limits for poker and bingo but I won’t go into these here) but the games must be for ‘low level’ prizes. Low level is not defined. There is a code of practice, published by the Gambling Commission, which you should familiarise yourself with
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