Poker in clubs and licensed premises
Poker has grown in popularity in recent years, and is now a common offering in clubs, pubs and bars.
As a form of prize gaming, any poker games must comply with a number of limits, to ensure that they are being provided legally. Organisers of games that breach these limits may find themselves subject to enforcement action, including prosecution.
Poker in alcohol-licensed premises
Poker played in pubs and bars licensed to sell alcohol is subject to the following limits:
- The maximum stake per player is £5 per game
- The combined stakes in the premises must not exceed £100 per day
- The maximum prize is £100 per game (this includes money, payments in-kind, vouchers, goods, buy-ins at other poker tournaments and other items which have a value)
It is not permitted for anyone involved in the organisation of a poker game to take any monies from the game, such as a rake from the prize pot, a participation fee, or any indirect charge to play in the game (e.g. by requiring that players must have purchased a meal from the premises).
The designated premises supervisor (DPS) of the premises is responsible for ensuring that these limits are not breached, and for keeping a written record of every game played to ensure that the limits are not breached.
Poker in clubs
The limits that apply to poker games in clubs depend upon the nature of the club. Only permanent clubs with more than 25 members, which are established and conducted for non-gaming purposes (excluding bridge or whist clubs) can use this entitlement. Only club members will be entitled to take part in the poker games.
Commercial clubs, which are established for commercial gain by an individual, company or organisation, can provide poker subject to the following limits:
- The maximum stake per player is £10 per game
- The combined stakes in the premises must not exceed £250 per day and £1,000 per week
- The maximum prize is £250 per game (including money, payments in-kind, vouchers, goods, buy-ins at other poker tournaments and other items which have a value)
- A maximum participation fee of £1 per person per day can be charged by the club to participate in gaming (rising to £3 if the club holds a club machine permit). No other indirect charges can be made.
Member's clubs, which are established and operated as non-commercial enterprises for the sole benefit of members, can host poker games within the following limits:
- If the club does not hold a club gaming permit, the limits will be the same as for commercial clubs
- Member's clubs with club gaming permits can provide poker with unlimited stakes and prizes, but for club members only. A maximum participation fee of £3 per person per day can be charged, but no other indirect charges can be made.
With the exception of the participation fees set out above, no other monies can be taken from the gaming, including rakes or commissions from the prize pot. Participation fees must be paid to the club and used for the established purposes of the club.
An individual nominated by the club (usually a club official) is to be responsible for ensuring that these limits are not breached, and for keeping a written record of every game played to ensure that the limits are not breached.
Pubs, bars and clubs can participate in heats of a poker tournament, so long as the relevant limits on stakes and prizes set out above are not breached. The prize fund in the final rounds of such a tournament must not exceed the prize limit for the earlier rounds.
Each game must be self-contained - it is not possible for a single game to be played across multiple premises, or for a prize fund to be based upon the number of players in multiple premises.