Gambling terms and frequently asked questions

  • What types of Arcades are there?

    There are three types of amusement arcades...

    • Adult Gaming Centres (AGCs)
    • Licensed Family Entertainment Centres (FECs)
    • Unlicensed Family Entertainment Centres (UFECs).

    The licences and/or permits required by each type of amusement arcades vary. The three different types of amusement arcade can offer different categories of gaming machine. No one under the age of 18 years is allowed to enter an AGC or the 'adults only' area of a licensed FEC.

  • What categories and restrictions are placed on Gaming Machines?

    Find out about gaming machine categories and restrictions on our gaming machines page.

  • What gaming machines can I install at my premises?

    Find out what machines you can install at your premises on our gaming machines page.

  • Are there any premises where I cannot install gaming machines?

    They may not be installed in places such as taxi offices, chip shops and late night refreshment outlets where the primary business operation is not gambling.

  • Are there any age restrictions on gaming machines?

    No person under the age of 18 years shall have access to any gaming machine other than those in Category D.

  • I would like to organise a World Cup/Grand National themed sweepstake, are there any rules?

    A typical sweepstake lottery is a scheme where participants pay to randomly select, such as a football team in a World Cup sweepstake, or a horse in a Grand National sweepstake. The person who selects the winner wins all the money.

    Under the Gambling Act 2005 this qualifies as a lottery.

    Most sweepstakes are small scale and are run in work places, where they are classed as Work Lotteries or by people who live together where they are classed as Residents' Lotteries or in private members' clubs where they are classed as Private Society Lotteries.

    You do not need a licence to run this type of lottery but Gambling Act 2005 does set out some general rules about how these lotteries must operate. Anyone organising such a sweepstake lottery is advised to read the Gambling Commission's guidance notes on 'organising small lotteries' before proceeding.

  • I would like to raise funds for a charity or other good cause by running a sweepstake. What would be the best way to do this?

    You would need to operate this as a society lottery. Small society lotteries must be registered with us. Large society lotteries require a licence from the Gambling Commission.

  • The people I work with would like to raise funds for charity or another good cause by holding a sweepstake. Can we do this?

    No. If the lottery is being run as a work lottery the law specifies that it cannot be run to raise funds. All proceeds (money collected) must be paid out in prizes or used to cover any expenses.

    These lotteries are intended to be for fun only. There is nothing to prevent the winner of a prize donating all or part of their prize to a charity or good cause if they wish to.

  • The people I live with would like to raise funds for charity or another good cause by holding a sweepstake. Can we do this?

    No. This would be classed as a Residents' Lottery and the law specifies that it cannot be run to raise funds. All proceeds (money collected) must be paid out in prizes or used to cover any expenses.

    These lotteries are intended to be run for fun only. There is nothing to prevent the winner of a prize donating all or part of their prize to a charity or good cause if they wish to.

  • I am a member of a private members' club that would like to raise funds for the club by holding a World Cup sweepstake. The sweepstake would only be open to members of the club. Can we do this?

    Yes. A private society can run a Private Society Lottery to raise funds for the society (club). However those funds cannot be distributed to other beneficiaries.

  • I am a bookmaker and would like to operate a sweepstake lottery for my customers to raise funds for charity or good cause. Can I do this?

    The law prevents most types of lotteries (work, private society and customer lotteries) from being promoted on licensed gambling premises. However, society lottery tickets can be sold on gambling premises on behalf of a licensed or registered society.

  • What is poker?

    Poker is a card game which, like bridge, involves elements of both chance and skill. It is therefore classified as a game of chance under the Gambling Act 2005.

    There are many variations on the game of poker, but the information below relates to equal chance poker games, like 'Texas Hold 'Em', where players compete against each other, on equal terms. In most forms of the game players bet a stake progressively into a communal pot or kitty. The player holding the best hand at the end of the betting wins the accumulated stakes.

    Unequal chance poker, such as 'Casino stud poker' where the banker or dealer participates in the game and holds a mathematical edge over the other players, may only be played in licensed casinos or, if it is 'domestic' or 'residential', under the Act's private gaming provisions.

  • Where can poker be played?

    Poker can be played:

    • in licensed casinos - usually in dedicated card rooms or salons - there are no statutory limits on stakes, prizes or other charges for poker played in casinos
    • in clubs and miner's welfare institutes - but unless a club or institute holds a club gaming permit from us there are statutory limits on stakes, prizes, and participation fees for poker played in these types of premises
    • in pubs - there are limits on stakes and prizes , no participation fee or other charge may be made
    • at non-commercial events - where none of the proceeds of the event are used for private gain
    • on a private occasion - for example, in a private house or on residential premises, such as a hostel, to which the public do not have access.

    For more information read the Gambling Commission Guide to Poker in Pubs or the Gambling Commission Guide to Poker in Clubs.

    Poker in clubs and institutes

    Members' clubs, and commercial clubs and miners' welfare institutes may provide facilities for equal chance poker for their members under the exempt gaming provisions.

    There is a stakes limit of £10 for each player for each game. This limit applies to a game of poker, not a single hand. There are also aggregate stakes limits of £250 a day and £1000 a week for each individual club or institute. So, for example, a club could run a poker game for 25 players paying £10 each four times a week. The maximum prize in a game of poker is also £250. The maximum charge that a club or institute may make for participating in poker is £1 for each player each day, and no deductions or levies are permitted from either stakes or prizes.

    Where a club holds a Club Gaming Permit issued by us (or, in the case of a commercial club, a Club Machine Permit) the maximum participation fee is £3. Where a Club Gaming Permit is held there are no statutory limits on stakes or prizes.

    Poker in pubs

    A limited amount of low stakes, social poker may be played in pubs. There is a stakes limit of £5 for each player for each game (not each hand), and the aggregate stakes limit for pub poker is £100 a day for each premises. So, for example, a pub could run a daily poker game involving 20 players staking £5 each. The maximum prize for a game of poker played in a pub is also £100. No charge or entry fee may be made for participating in pub poker and, as with clubs, no deductions or levies may be made from either stakes or prizes.

    Poker at non-commercial events

    Poker may be played at non-commercial events. Poker, or equal chance gaming more generally, may be the main or sole purpose of the event, but none of the proceeds of a non-commercial event may be used for private gain. These provisions are intended to be used by charities and other non-commercial societies for fund-raising purposes.

    There are limits on the amounts that players may be charged to take part, and on the amount or value of the prizes. The maximum amount that a player may be charged is £8 a day. This includes entrance fees, stakes and any other charges in relation to the gaming. The total amount paid out in prizes may not exceed £600, although where an event is the final one of a series in which all of the players have previously taken part, a higher fund of up to £900 is permitted (please note that the earlier events must have taken place on a different day to the final).

    Private poker

    Equal chance poker may be played under the private gaming provisions. Private gaming may only occur in a place that the public does not have access, such as a private dwelling, hostel or hall of residence. No charge may be made for participation in private gaming (and that includes an entrance fee or other charge for admission), nor may any amounts be deducted from stakes or prizes.

    If private gaming is domestic or residential, the above conditions will apply, but unequal chance poker may also be played. Private gaming is 'domestic' if it takes place in a private dwelling and on a domestic occasion, such as a party. Private gaming is 'residential' if it takes place in a hostel, hall of residence or similar establishment which is not administered in the course of a trade or business, and more than half of the participants are residents of that hostel, hall of residence or establishment.

  • What are Race Nights?

    'Race nights' are events in which participants stake money on the outcome of recorded or virtual races, where the selection is totally dependent on chance, and where no 'odds' of 'form' are available to assist the selection.

    As a general principle 'race nights' may only take place at non-commercial events where none of the proceeds from the event itself are used for private gain. The proceeds from the event constitute the sums raised by its organisers (including sums raised by way of participation fees, sponsorship, commission from traders, or otherwise) minus the costs reasonably incurred in organising the event. However, sums raised by other persons will not form part of the proceeds of the event and so may be appropriated for private gain. An example would be refreshments provided at the event by an independent third party.

    All participants must be told what 'good cause' is to benefit from the profits from the gaming, but no licence, permit or other form of permission is required to operate a race night provided that the statutory conditions are complied with.

    Depending on how an event is structured, a 'race night' may be operated under either the non-commercial gaming provisions or as an incidental non-commercial lottery. In all cases prizes may be paid out in cash or in kind.

    For more information you can read the Gambling Commission Guide to holding race nights, casino night and poker night.

    Prize gaming

    To qualify as prize gaming, the prizes should be put up in advance, and must not be dependent on the number of players taking part or the amount of money staked. There are no statutory limits on stakes, prizes, participation fees or other charges for this type of non-commercial gaming, which may be an incidental activity or the only, or main, purpose of the event.

    Equal chance gaming

    Where the prizes awarded are dependent on the number of players taking part, or on the amount of money staked on a race, the non-commercial equal chance gaming provisions apply.

    The gaming may be either an incidental activity or the only or main purpose of the event, provided that none of the proceeds are used for private gain. For this type of gaming there are limits on the amounts that players may be charged to take part, and on the amount or value of prizes. The maximum amount that a player may be charged is £8 a day (and this includes entrance or participation fees, stakes and any other payments in relation to the gaming). The total amount paid out in prizes may not exceed £600 although, where an event is the final one of a series in which all of the players have previously taken part, a higher prize fund of up to £900 is permitted.

    Incidental lottery

    Where the 'race night' is not the only or main purpose of a non-commercial event, it may be possible to operate it as an incidental lottery. In this case there are no limits on the amount that players may be charged to participate, but no more than £500 may be deducted from the proceeds of the lottery for the cost of prizes (which may be in cash or in kind), and no more than £100 for other expenses.

    Private gaming

    A 'race night' may also be run as equal chance gaming under the private gaming provisions. Private gaming may only occur in a place to which the public does not have access, such as a private dwelling, hostel or hall of residence. No charge may be made for participation in private gaming (and that includes an entrance fee or other charge for admission), nor may any amounts be deducted from stakes or prizes. No profits can be made from private gaming, irrespective of how such profits may be used.

     

  • What is Remote Gambling?

    Remote gambling means gambling in which people participate by the use of remote communication.

    Remote communication means communicating using:

    • the internet
    • telephone
    • television
    • radio
    • any other kind of electronic or other technology for facilitating communication.

    To operate a remote gambling operation, there must be in force a remote operating licence issued by the Gambling Commission. The operating licence must contain a condition that equipment used in the operation shall be situated in Great Britain.

    The Gambling Commission have powers to set conditions, including the testing of equipment, and require the applicant to produce evidence of the result of the test.

  • What is Track Betting?

    Track betting licences have been replaced and are now called Pool Betting.

  • What type of machines can be made available at travelling fairs?

    Only Category D machines can be made available at travelling fairs.

    You can find more information in the Gambling Commission's guide to fairs and fairgrounds‌.