The popularity of poker has grown tremendously in the United Kingdom in recent years, leading to competitions being organized across the country. Pubs and clubs are being warned to be careful when booking these popular poker events because it may violate their licensing.
"Gambling for prizes requires a license to be held for that purpose and venues may face fines or prosecution if poker events are held where any money changes hands even if it's just to 'sit down' at a table," said Phil Burke, Manchester Pub and Club Network spokesman.
Pubs and clubs may end up in breech of their premise license if any charge is made for the event or any prizes with a cash value given.
"If venues are thinking about holding a poker evening, then we would recommend that they contact the local licensing unit or their own licensing solicitors for advice before entering any agreements with the above poker event promoters," Burke said.
Establishments need to be especially careful in light of the new regulations being set out by the Gambling Commission. They published the "Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement" guidance for licensing authorities last week which outlines how it will monitor and regulate the activities of British gambling.
"We have three clear regulatory objectives: to keep crime out, to make sure gambling is fair and open, and to protect children and vulnerable people from harm," said Peter Dean, Gambling Commission chairman.
"We will not hesitate to use our extensive legal powers to prosecute any illegal gambling activity or to take action against licensed operators who fail to comply with the new rules we have set out."
Starting in September 2007, all gambling operations will require a license from the Commission, and the key individuals running the operation will be subject to criminal records checks, financial checks, and integrity checks.
Once licensed, the Commission ensures that the establishment complies with a range of new rules designed to keep crime out and make sure gambling is socially responsible.
As well as regulating gambling operators and staff, the Commission will investigate and prosecute a range of criminal offences, including those who run unlicensed, illegal gambling facilities, and severe cases of cheating at gambling.
For more information on the U.K. Gambling Act 2006, please see U.K. Gambling Ads Could Carry Warnings.