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Bingo licence and bingo

If you wish to apply for permission to operate a bingo club, you need to apply to:

  • the Gambling Commission for operating and Personal Licences and
  • to us for a Premises Licence.

Complete the gambling premises new application form and send this with the relevant payment.

The following forms can be used to help prepare your notice of application:

The time taken to process an application depends on each individual application. The time period can range from a minimum of one month up to two months, but this could be longer if appeals are made following a committee hearing.

When an application is submitted, a 28 day statutory consultation period will follow. This allows time for local residents, businesses and Responsible Authorities to give their responses to the application - known as 'representations'. This is done by considering the three licensing objectives.

If you are posting the application forms, you are required to also serve a copy of the application, including the accompanying documentation, to the Responsible Authorities on the same day as the application is given to us. If the application is submitted electronically, we will provide copies to the Responsible Authorities. We can only accept applications for premises within our local authority area.

Our licensing payments page explains what fees apply and how to pay them.

Cash bingo is mainly played in licensed commercial clubs, registered members clubs and miners welfare institutes and is licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission.

Prize Bingo is the kind normally played in funfairs and amusement arcades, with small fees and with modest prizes.

The prize is put up in advance by the organiser.

Under their existing permissions, Bingo Halls, Adult Gaming Centres, Travellers Fairs, Licensed Family Entertainment Centres and holders of Family Entertainment Centre Gaming Machine Permits are automatically entitled to offer prize bingo.

The maximum fee that may be charged for any one chance to win a prize in a game of bingo, wherever it is played, is 50 pence.

The total amount of fees, and the amount or value of prizes for which a game may be played, may not exceed £500.

Where prize bingo is played for money prizes, the following limits apply to the amount of a prize...

  • Adult Gaming Centres - £50
  • Licensed bingo premises (where under 18s are excluded) - £50
  • Licensed bingo premises (where under 18s are permitted) - £35
  • All other cases - £35

Club and Miners' Welfare Institutes that want to provide facilities for bingo can under the 'exempt gaming'.

The following rules apply to bingo played in clubs and institutes...

  • No amounts may be deducted from sums staked or won.
  • The maximum participation fee is £1 for each person, each day (or £3 where a club gaming permit is held).
  • There should be no linking of games between premises and
  • In the case of members' clubs and institutes, people may only participate in the gaming if they have been a member (or applied or were nominated for membership) at least 48 hours before playing or are genuine guests of a member.

The Gambling Commission have published:

There are no limits on stakes and prizes for individual games of club bingo.

Clubs or institutes that wish to offer high turnover bingo, such as where stakes or prizes exceed £2000 each week, will require a Bingo Operating Licence from the Gambling Commission.

Pubs that wish to provide facilities for bingo must follow these rules...

  • The maximum amount that may be staked by a player in a game of bingo is £5
  • No amounts may be deducted from sums staked or won
  • Players may not be charged a fee for taking part
  • There should be no linking of games between premises and
  • Nobody under 18 years old may participate.

Pubs that wish to offer high turnover bingo, such as where stakes or prizes exceed £2000 each week) will require a Bingo Operating Licence from the Gambling Commission.

The Gambling Commission have published a guide to bingo in pubs and clubs.

Organisations such as schools that wish to provide bingo or other types of gaming for charitable or other non-commercial purposes, such as to raise funds for a society, may do so under the Gambling Act. Non-commercial gaming may only take place at events where none of the proceeds from the event itself are used for private gain.

There are two types of non-commercial gaming...

  • Prize gaming: where the prizes are put up in advance and are not 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 gaming.
  • Equal chance gaming: where the amount or value of the prizes varies according to the number of players who participate and/or the amount of money they stake. A single payment of £8 each day may be charged to cover admission, stakes and any other charges for playing. The total value of prizes must not exceed £600 in one day. 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 no more than £900 is allowed.

In all cases, the players participating in non-commercial bingo must be told what 'good cause' is to benefit from the profits from the gaming.

There are no fees or permits required for non-commercial bingo.

Gambling Commission code of practice for equal chance gaming in clubs and premises with an alcohol licence.

Providing bingo or other forms of gaming does not require a licence or permit if it meets the requirements of private gaming.

Private gaming can only occur in a place to which the public does not have access (this means private dwellings, retirement homes or similar). Residential gaming is a form of private gaming, and is permitted without licence or permit provided that:

  • it takes place in a hall of residence, retirement or care home, hostel or similar venue
  • more than half of the participants are residents at that venue.

There cannot be any charge for participation in private gaming. This means that the organiser:

  • cannot make any profit from gaming, irrespective of how they intend to use the profits (profit cannot be made even for charitable purposes)
  • there can be no entrance fee or charge for admission
  • no amounts can be deducted from players’ stakes or from prizes awarded.

A player’s gaming stake is not the same as a charge for participation. While there must be no fees, charges or deductions, participants in private gaming are still able to play with cash stakes and prizes may be awarded in cash.

Organisers should remember that for games of bingo (and for any other form of ‘equal chance’ gaming such as poker, backgammon, rummy, dominoes, cribbage or mah-jong), all of the money that is staked must be returned in prizes to winning participants.

For example, if the bingo players have paid £30 in total, all of that £30 needs to be returned as prizes. It is up to the organiser to decide how that £30 will be divided as prizes.

A Bingo Premises Licence authorises a maximum of four Category B3 or B4 Gaming Machines and unlimited Category C and D machines to be available on the premises. Find out more about categories on our Gaming machines categories and restrictions page.

If you make linked bingo, handheld bingo terminals or automated bingo terminals available to customers, you will also need to obtain an Ancillary Remote Bingo Operating Licence from the Gambling Commission.