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UK Law
Poker and the Law
 
 
Where 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 legal. However:
  • 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.
There is no limit on the stakes and prizes when playing poker at home

Poker at work?
You can organise poker games or play poker in the workplace as long as

  • that there is no charge for participation (excluding stakes)
  • the public do not have access to the venue.
There are no limits on the stakes you can play or the prizes you can win, when playing poker at work with colleagues.

Poker for Charity
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
In Great 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)

Casinos can also run poker tournaments at temporary venues, for a limited amount of time, under temporary use notices (TUNs).

Online Poker
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 online poker.

Poker in a Pub (Public House)
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.

Stakes and prizes
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.

The 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 prizes.

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 game.

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
Private Cash 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.

   
 
 
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