U.K. Gambling Commission at odds with poker companies

In the United Kingdom, the Gambling Commission is butting heads with poker companies about the legality of running poker nights in pubs. Companies are insisting the leagues are legal, while the commission continues to warn them they are not.

According the 1968 Gaming Act, pubs are not allowed to host games that are played for money or prizes, and they can't take a cut from the games.

The Gambling Commission has pointed out that even if pubs are fully within the rules of the law, they are still legally responsible if their customers break the law. For example, the organizers may have set rules for the poker tournament that follow the law, but the players may choose to have side bets and settle up for cash after the game, and the pub would be liable for that.

Many poker league operators have complained that the commission isn't giving them clear answers on the issue. The commission is pointing out what constitutes an illegal game, but when the leagues respond by showing they are within the law, the Gaming Commission has shown resistance to initiatives from the companies and hesitance about dealing with them.

Under the current law, it is virtually impossible to organize a legal poker competition outside of a licensed casino. However, in September 2007 the new Gaming Act will come into full effect and change the way establishments become licensed to host gambling events.

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