Gambling Act

Forms and Fact Sheets

You can now read our statement of licensing policy, download forms and get advice from our forms and fact sheets page.


Competitions and Lotteries

The Gambling Commission has recently updated their advice on lotteries so it is worth a reminder about the basic differences between lotteries and competitions to avoid any illegality.

A Lottery involves a payment to enter where the opportunity to win a prize is determined by chance. A lottery where entry is free is therefore permitted. Unless the lottery falls within one of the exemptions in the Gambling Act 2005 (the National Lottery aside) it is illegal.

Competitions are also popular (pub quizzes are a very good source of extra business) but must be run in such a way that the chance to win depends on the exercise of skill or the display of

knowledge. Because there can be a payment to enter, the questions must not be so easy that they effectively become a lottery, e.g. winning a prize by stating what day it is., Advice should be sought in the event of doubt.


So, raffles in a pub (e.g. selling raffle tickets and drawing the winner's name from a hat in a pub) would be illegal unless they are incidental to another event such as a dinner dance where monies may be raised for charity. There are also limits on what may be spent on prizes ( this doesn't stop gifts) and what can be deducted by way of expenses.

There are circumstances where lotteries can be exempt, such as at places of work or a private society; or licensed, but these are limited - such as small societies.

Unlicensed Family Entertainment Centre Permits

Application can be made by occupiers / proposed occupiers of premises intended to be used by the applicant as an unlicensed family entertainment centre.

1. The application form is to be used for an application for a grant (or to request a change of name) of an unlicensed family entertainment centre gaming machine permit under the Gambling Act 2005 Section 247 and Schedule 10. This form can be used for both new applications and for applications to convert an existing Section 34 permit under the Gaming Act 1968 in accordance with the Gambling Act 2005 Statutory Instrument 2006 / 3272.

2. An unlicensed family entertainment centre is entitled to provide an unlimited number of category D gaming machines available for use on the premises. Category C (adult) gaming machines CANNOT be made available for use and thus there will be no ‘designated adult areas' required at the premises.

3. The permit's duration is 10 years. A renewal application must be made 2-6 months before the expiry date of the permit (Schedule 10 paragraph 18 Gambling Act 2005).

4. The fee for a new application for grant is £300. The fee for the conversion of an existing Section 34 Gaming Act 1968 permit is £100. The fee for a change of name is £25.

5. This licensing authority must notify the applicant of its grant / refusal of the application for a permit as soon as is reasonably practicable after that decision to grant / refuse has been made.

6. These permits cannot be transferred. Change of name is only permitted where the permit holder changes his / her name or wishes to be known by another name (Schedule 10 paragraph 11(2)).

Betting in Pubs and Clubs

Regardless of the size of stake or prize, commercial betting in pubs and clubs is illegal, and people involved are breaking the law. Those involved in offering illegal facilities – including publicans and Club officials - face up to 51 weeks in prison, or a £5000 fine.

The Gambling Commission has published a leaflet  which sets out the position on betting in pubs and clubs under the Gambling Act 2005.

Don't gamble on poker in your pub

Equal chance gaming is permitted in pubs and licensed premises as an exemption in the Gambling Act 2005. This means you do not have to notify anyone of the gambling. You can just play. But you must keep it within the limits. The exemption applies to equal chance gaming only, i.e. poker, bingo, or games without a banker.

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 is that the maximum amount that can be staked by a player on any game is £5.

There are no limits on the amounts that can be won (although see later, as there are limits for poker and bingo) but the games must be for 'low level' prizes. Low level is not defined. The DPS becomes the 'Gaming Supervisor' for the purposes of the legislation and is expected to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the limits are adhered to, including that the prizes are low level.

A Code of Practice applies which is extremely onerous. It defines the details on the gaming, including age checking, rules on equipment to be used, etc. The code actually recommends that cash poker is not permitted. According to the Codes the gaming supervisor must keep a record of the games played, number of players, and amount staked, to ensure that the individual and daily limits are not exceed. The supervisor must also ensure that the games are played in a 'pleasant atmosphere'. This could be interesting and is not necessarily an easy task in the heat of the moment.

There are additional limits for poker. The total aggregate amount that can be staked on poker for a single premises must not exceed £100 per day and the maximum amount that can be won on any game of poker is £100.

For bingo the maximum aggregate stakes or prizes for a single premises cannot exceed £2,000 in any week. Although you will not get your hand slapped if you do allow the stakes or prizes to go over £2,000 in a week on one occasion. Then you must inform the Gambling Commission. If you do it again you are committing an offence and you could be in for a serious fine.

Remember for both poker and bingo the £5 per game per player limit on stakes still applies.

Code of Practice for Gaming Machines in alcohol licensed premises and Clubs

The Code of Practice  has now been published by the Gambling Commission.  Section A is a condition of the clubs permits and alcohol licensed premises gaming machine permits, as well as those with 2 or less gaming machines (Section 282 (3)).  It applies to all clubs and alcohol licensed premise with gaming machines (including those which have not yet converted" their existing permits) from 1st September 2007.

Gambling Anonymous Guidance

The charity Gamblers' Anonymous has issued advice to licensing authorities currently consulting on their draft statement of principles required under the Gambling Act 2005.

In its statement, the charity says that Gamblers Anonymous is a unique self-help multi-ethnic fellowship of men and women who have a desire to stop gambling.

This desire will have followed from a period of gambling as a result of which the gambler realises that he or she is gambling out of control.

Gamblers Anonymous does not offer counselling or employ any professionals. Gamblers seeking help are invited to attend regular meetings where they meet and can identify with other compulsive gamblers. The Recovery Programme used is similar to 12-step programmes used successfully by other self-help fellowships.

Fundamental to the fellowship are a number of key principles:

  • All expenses are met entirely from the contributions of its members, declining all outside help
  • GA has no views on the existence of gambling facilities and never comments
  • All members are anonymous. No names or faces on TV or in the media
  • GA policy is to attract members but not to promote themselves
  • There are no affiliations with any enterprises including agencies devoted to helping recovery from compulsive gambling no matter how good their intentions
  • GA never endorses any agencies or products and actively discourages such agencies from suggesting any approval by GA.

By adhering to these principles GA never gets diverted from its primary purpose – to help compulsive gamblers who wish to help themselves.

The rule of strict anonymity means that records of attendance contain only first names or pseudonyms. Meetings are usually weekly and the list is available to the public on GA's public website. However, the publication of local meeting places is not encouraged so that the anonymity of those in the group or considering joining is protected.

Most direct contact is via the telephone support lines (GA Birmingham - Telephone: 0121 233 1335) or from information obtained from the Gamblers Anonymous website.

Further Information

All Licensing and Environmental Health Matters are now dealt with by Worcestershire Regulatory Services.

For direct public enquiries and referrals:

General Customer Enquiries

Worcestershire Hub on: 01905 822799


Fax: 01905-617132

Worcestershire Regulatory Services