Gambling terms and frequently asked questions (FAQs)
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.
You cannot site gaming machines in takeaways, cafes, food shops, minicab and taxi offices, non-arcade and other unlicensed premises
No person under the age of 18 years shall have access to any gaming machine other than those in category D.
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 Guide to running a sweepstake
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.
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.
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.
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 Holdem, 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.
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 view:
- Gambling Commission guide to poker in pubs
- Gambling Commission guide to poker in clubs
- Gambling Commission code of practice on gaming in pubs and alcohol licensed premises
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).
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.
'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.
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.
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.
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.
Remote gambling means gambling in which people participate by the use of remote communication.
Remote communication means communicating using:
- the Internet
- 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.
Only category D machines can be made available at travelling fairs.
Blackjack, also known as Twenty-one, Vingt-et-un (French for twenty-one), or Pontoon, is the most widely played casino banking game in the world. The standard game is played with one or more packs of cards containing 52 cards. The basic rules of the game involve adding the value of an initial two card hand in the hope of being dealt a value of twenty-one. If a value of less than twenty-one is dealt, the player may choose to be dealt single cards until they either reach a value of twenty-one, reach a value they feel comfortable to play, or reach a value that exceeds twenty-one. The winner holds a hand with a value of, or nearest to, twenty-one without exceeding it. The game is played in many variations at casinos with different table rules. Much of Blackjack’s popularity is due the mix of chance, skill, and the publicity that surrounds card counting (varying one’s wager and playing strategy to take advantage of knowledge of the cards yet to be dealt). The casino game should not be confused with the British card game Blackjack.
Contract Bridge, usually known simply as Bridge, is a card game played with 52 cards. It is played by four players who form two partnerships: partners sit opposite each other at the table, so that North and South form one partnership and East and West are the other. In each hand after the cards are dealt (13 to each player) there is an auction (bidding) and then the cards are played. The bidding usually ends with a contract, which is a declaration by one partnership that their side will win at least a stated number of tricks, with a specified suit as trump or without trumps. The declarer will try to make the announced tricks, and the opponents will try to stop them. Declarer’s partner places his hands on the table and these cards are played by declarer. The play consists of 13 tricks. Each player contributes one card to each trick, and the highest card (or the highest trump) wins. Players must follow suit if possible. The winner plays first to the next trick. Then the hand is scored. Each hand takes about eight minutes.
A bridge session at a club typically lasts for about 3 hours, during which about 24 hands are played. This usually consists of duplicate bridge in which the same hands are played several times by different players. The scores are obtained by comparing the results. This partly eliminates the element of luck.
Chemin De Fer
Chemin De Fer (French for ‘railroad’ – probably depicting the shoe as a train travelling around the table) is the version of Baccarat that is mainly played in France.
In this game you cannot bet on Player or Bank, you must BE one or the other. The House (or Casino) has no direct involvement in the betting. The players wager among themselves.
The House provides a ‘Croupier’ or dealer to make sure the rules are adhered to and that everything runs smoothly. Also the House provides all the necessary gaming equipment: table, chairs, the shoe called ‘sabot’ and the cards. For that the House takes a percentage commission, or rake, (usually 5%) on all winning Bank hands.
Each player can be Banker in turn. The player who is acting as the banker is responsible for all losing bets with his/her own money, as well as collecting all winning Bank bets.
Unlike Baccarat, Chemin De Fer has flexible third-card-rules; that is, there is some optional play whereby the Player and Banker can decide whether to call a third card or not. Also, the game is played entirely in French.
Cribbage, or crib is a card game traditionally for two players, but commonly played with three, four or more, that involves playing and grouping cards in combinations which gain points. Cribbage has several distinctive features: the cribbage board used for scorekeeping, the eponymous crib or box (a separate hand counting for the dealer), two distinct scoring stages (the play and the show) and a unique scoring system including points for groups of cards that total fifteen.
Whist is a classic English trick-taking card game which was played widely in the 18th and 19 Centuries. It derives from the 16th century game of Trump or Ruff. Although the rules are extremely simple, there is enormous scope for scientific play.
Dominoes (or dominos) generally refers to the collective gaming pieces making up a domino set. The traditional domino set consists of 28 dominoes, each domino is a rectangular tile with a line dividing its face into two square ends. Each end is marked with a number of spots or is blank. The backs of the dominoes in a set are indistinguishable, either blank or having some common design. A domino set is a generic gaming device, similar to playing cards, in that a variety of games can be played with a set.
Roulette is a casino game named after a French diminutive for ‘little wheel’. In the game, players may choose to place bets on either a single number or a range of numbers, the colours red or black, or whether the number is odd or even. To determine the winning number and colour, a croupier spins a wheel in one direction, then spins a ball in the opposite direction around a tilted circular track running around the circumference of the wheel. The ball eventually loses momentum and falls on to the wheel and into one of 37 coloured and numbered pockets on the wheel.