Poker and the Law
can I organise or play poker?
Outside a casino, you can
organise poker games and play poker in many different settings. However, the
rules are different depending on where you play.
Poker at home
Playing games of
poker in your own home, between friends and on a non-commercial basis, is
There is no limit on
the stakes and prizes when playing poker at home
- the rest of the
participants must be your legitimate guests or friends
- you cannot invite
members of the public to join in
- you cannot ask people
to pay a fee, separate from the stake, to take part.
Poker at work?
You can organise
poker games or play poker in the workplace as long as
There are no limits on
the stakes you can play or the prizes you can win, when playing poker at work
- that there is no
charge for participation (excluding stakes)
- the public do not have
access to the venue.
You do not need a licence, permit or any other form of
permission to run what is called non-commercial equal chance gaming, for
example, a poker night organised to raise money for charity. The players must
be told what good cause is to benefit from the profits of the gaming. Under 16s
are not allowed to participate.
In respect of all games played at an
event the aggregate amount or value of prizes and awards distributed in respect
of those games shall not exceed £600. Where a series of events is held
the amount or value of prizes and awards distributed in respect of those games
shall not exceed £900.
No matter how many games you run or a
participant expects to play in, they must not make more than one payment
(whether as an admission or participation fee, stake or other charge, or a
combination of those charges), and this payment must not exceed £8.
Poker in Casinos
Britain, you can play poker in casinos licensed by the Gambling Commission.
However, poker played as a casino game could mean that you have lower gambling
odds than if you play poker as a game of equal chance. (Equal-chance gaming
does not involve playing or staking money against a bank (or dealer) and the
chances of winning are equally favourable to all participants)
can also run poker tournaments at temporary venues, for a limited amount of
time, under temporary use notices (TUNs).
Poker can be played online with unlimited
stakes. Before starting to gamble, you should ensure that you know some basic
details about the company. For example, where are they licensed and how you can
contact them. You may need this if you have any queries on its gambling
products before you decide whether to gamble. There should be clear information
about how to make a complaint against the gambling company and how your
complaint will be dealt with. In the event that you make a complaint and are
not happy with the outcome it should be clear what further steps you can take.
Operators licensed by the Commission are required to ensure that a complaint is
referred to an independent body if you are not satisfied with how it has been
handled. The Commission monitors companies to ensure complaints are dealt with
appropriately and looks for trends which indicate where licensees might not be
doing what they should. Safe places to play
Poker in a Pub
You can organise poker games and play poker in a pub.
However, there are strict conditions on any gaming including limits on stakes
and prizes. Licensing authorities can take action against individuals whose
premises do not comply with these conditions. Poker can be played in pubs but
there are limits to the stakes and prizes that can be played for.
There is a maximum value to both the amount that can be staked
and the prize that can be offered when playing poker in a pub.
maximum stake per player is £5 per game, and the combined stakes for your
premises should not exceed £100 per day.
The maximum prize is
£100 per game. This maximum includes money, payments in-kind, vouchers,
goods, donated items, goodybags, buy-ins at other poker tournaments and other
items which have a value.
Additionally, you cannot charge a
participation fee, including for example by having entrants pay a compulsory
charge for a meal.
Poker in a Club (Private Members Club)
Poker can be played in clubs as long as it takes account of the
conditions that apply to gaming in clubs, including limits on stakes and
The maximum stake per player is £10 per game, and the
combined stakes for your premises must not exceed £250 per day and
£1,000 per week.
The maximum prize is £250 per
A maximum participation fee of £1 per person per day can be
charged by a members club, with or without a club machine permit. A
commercial club with a club machine permit can charge £3 per person per
day, but only £1 otherwise.
Private Cash Poker
Poker (as opposed to tournaments) is allowed but Gaming is only private if it
occurs in a place to which the public does not have access (normally a private
dwelling, hostel, hall of residnece or similar establishment). No charge may be
made for participation in private gaming (and this 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 the
organiser intends to use those profits.
Private gaming can potentially
take place on commercial premises in circumstances where a members club
hires a room in, for example, a pub or hotel for a private function where equal
chance gaming only is played. However, organisers would need to scrutinise very
carefully the arrangements put in place to make sure that the particular area
of the pub, hotel or other venue in which the gaming takes place is not, on the
occasion of the private function, a place to which the public have access and
that those participating are not selected by a process which means that, in
fact, they are members of the public rather than members of the club. The law
in this area is complex and organisers are strongly advised to seek their own
legal advice before organising events of this nature.