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Gambling on licensed premises: Licensees gamble with their livelihood

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It has come to light that, with gambling on licensed premises, certain games are being played in a way which may be unlawful, exposing licensees to the risk of large penalties.

In some cases, games have rolled over with prizes totalling several thousand pounds so it is not surprising that the authorities are now focusing their attention on establishments without the proper permits.

For many, games such as Open the Box, Spin the Wheel, Take your Pick and Chase the Joker seem quite harmless. But you could face enforcement action by the authorities if you play these sorts of games on your premises without observing certain rules.

To avoid this, it is imperative that you stick to the following guidance or seek further licensing advice if you have any doubts.

How to avoid penalties for gambling on licensed premises

If you sell “tickets” and then draw a winner from these tickets who can then open the box, spin the wheel, etc, this is a lottery. In this case, you will need a permit to run a lottery unless you are exempt. You will be exempt if you operate within certain limits, which includes a maximum prize of £50 with no rollover.

If, however, the holder of a winning ticket is asked a reasonably challenging quiz question, which on correctly answering permits them to go on and open the box, this should ensure that the game being played is ‘equal chance gaming’ rather than a ‘customer lottery’, so you will not need to worry about permits and penalties.

You should also remember that there are restrictions on poker and bingo in licensed premises.

Are you worried about licensing breaches?

The penalties for carrying out games of this type without the proper permits are considerable and you should seek advice to ensure enforcement action is avoided.

Should you require any further information, please contact our Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing team 01332 226 130.

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