UK Gambling Commission targets illegal poker clubs

The UK Gambling Commission has announced that it has taken action against three illegal poker clubs in the country as part of a campaign to tackle unlawful gambling.

The three members’ clubs have been ordered to stop providing poker as a result of investigations by local authorities with support from the regulatory body.

The Fifth Street Card Club in Borehamwood had its club gaming permit withdrawn after it was ruled that the club could not demonstrate that it was being run in “good faith” in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003.

The Royal Surrey Social Club in Morden, Surrey has also halted poker play after local council officials found poker was being played illegally in exceeding prescribed limits.

In addition, a new application for the Palms of Enfield club was turned down by the local council on a number of grounds including concerns over illegal poker. The decision may be subject to an appeal.

Under the Gambling Act 2005, commercial high-stakes poker is restricted to licensed casinos.

Poker is allowed in members clubs but there are restrictions depending on whether there is a gaming permit in place, as well as condition on participation fees, and stake and prize limits. In addition, the club’s primary purpose cannot be for gambling.

A total of 10 clubs have been forced to shut down or halt poker activities 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.

Other areas have also started to refuse gambling permits due to concerns over applicants and their intention to run illegal poker clubs.

Nick Tofiluk, director of regulatory operations at the Gambling Commission, said: “These 10 cases show local authorities have the means and the determination to tackle concerns about illegal poker in whatever guise it is presented.

“We are committed to working closely in support of local authorities in dealing with such matters. Local authorities 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.”

13 March 2014