Illegal Poker Clubs Targeted by UK Gambling Commission

The UK Gambling Commission is continuing to take action against illegal poker clubs.  The commission recently released a press release detailing the actions.

From the release:

Suspected illegal poker clubs across the country continue to be targeted in a campaign on tackling unlawful gambling. In the latest round, three members’ clubs have been forced to stop providing poker as a result of investigations by local authorities with support from the Gambling Commission.

The Fifth Street Card Club in Borehamwood had its Club Gaming Permit withdrawn as the club was unable to demonstrate it was being run in ‘good faith’ in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003, and the Royal Surrey Social Club in Morden, Surrey has stopped their poker activities after local council officials discovered poker was being played illegally in exceeding prescribed limits. A new application for the Palms of Enfield club was rejected by the local council on a number of grounds including concerns about illegal poker, but may be subject to an appeal.

It brings the number of clubs to ten that have been forced to either close down or stop playing poker since Hackney Council rejected an appeal in July 2012 by the International Private Members Club against the removal of a club gaming permit and club premises certificate from a premises offering poker in Hackney. See notes to editors for the list of the ten clubs.

In other areas licensing authorities are starting to refuse gaming permits due to concerns that applicants were suspected of intending to run illegal poker clubs.

“These ten cases show local authorities have the means and the determination to tackle concerns about illegal poker in whatever guise it is presented,” said Nick Tofiluk, the Commission’s Director of Regulatory Operations.

“We are committed to working closely in support of local authorities in dealing with such matters. LAs now have considerable experience in this field and we will continue to promote good practice while dealing effectively with illegal poker clubs. The message is simple – if you offer poker in a club which falls outside the rules for exempt gaming, or offer commercial poker you are breaking the law.”

Under the Gambling Act 2005, commercial high-stakes poker is restricted to licensed casinos. Whilst poker can be played in members’ clubs, there are various restrictions depending on whether there is a club gaming permit in place, as well as conditions on participation fees and stake and prize limits. Further, the main purpose of the club cannot be gambling.