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Indoor sporting events and licensable activities

Do pool tournaments quantify as indoor sporting events?

Q: I have been having pool tournaments at my pub for several years and we are part of a local league. Recently we were visited by the new Police Licensing Officer who is doing ‘routine’ licensing enforcement visits, where he completes a long checklist to see if we are complying with our requirements under Licensing Law. The only thing he pulled me up on was our pool tournaments. He said that we did not have Indoor Sporting Events on our licence and whilst this was fine if people were playing pool on their own, because there is an audience of spectators at our tournament events this makes it licensable as regulated entertainment. He has said that I should put in for a Minor Variation and there will not be a problem but I wonder if this is needed at all?

A: I think your local officer needs to do a little bit more homework. He is stating the law as it was before June 2013. Up until then, he would be right in that if there was an audience and they were being ‘entertained’ by the pool tournament then this technically would be licensable. However, in June 2013 the Government brought in a range of deregulatory measures, one of which related to indoor sporting events. Now, any indoor sporting events between 08:00am and 11:00pm up to a maximum of 1,000 people (I’m sure your tournaments aren’t quite that popular!) are simply not licensable activities, and therefore do not need any explicit authorisation stated on your licence. Clearly, if the tournaments go beyond 11:00pm then you will need authorisation. This would apply to other typical pub games such as darts or skittles but do remember that in all these cases if there are no spectators and only the people participating themselves are watching this is not licensable whether or not it is after 11:00pm.

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