We all enjoy a flutter now and again and we are extremely fortunate to live in an a highly pro-gambling country. We can, after all, gamble online whenever and wherever we like.
But when it comes to betting at home or with mates or even with a non-licensed betting company, many are unclear of the rules and legalities surrounding this.
They needn’t be. As it turns out, things are much more simple than you might otherwise have thought.
And it all really comes down to profit.
What Are The Rules
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) state that non-commercial gaming, seemingly of all kinds, is legal in the UK. Gaming can be deemed to be non-commercial so long as none of the proceeds generated are used for private profit or gain.
Charity and fund raising are also some of the legal ways to non-commercially gamble in the UK.
In short, gambling privately is permitted in the case of:
- Non-commercial gaming
- Private gaming and betting
- Incidental lotteries
- Private society lotteries
- Work lotteries
- Residents’ lotteries
- Customer lotteries
In the case of betting, it considered to be private if it is domestic betting or workers’ betting. This, of course, means betting at home or at work with colleagues and/or friends.
This also means that, so long as poker home games are not a commercial entity, then they are entirely legal too. Essentially, this means that the house must take no rake and basically not be seen to be running a professional card room. Buy-ins are unaffected but entry fees cannot be applied.
Again, a non-commercial casino night, where none of the money the organisers raise from the event is used for private gain, is entirely legal if, even in your own front room friends are staking money on casino games such as roulette and blackjack.
The same rules would apply to all card games played for money.
Gambling In Pubs
But what about pubs? In the case of pubs, already a business of course, it would seem that caps are put in place to limit stakes and winnings to get around becoming a gaming house.
You may have seen pubs organising weekly poker nights. These too are legal. That said, there are strict conditions applied including limits on blinds and prizepools. The maximum stake per player is £5 per game, and the combined stakes for the whole pub is not allowed to exceed £100 per day.
Oh, and office sweepstakes, such as those for the Grand National or World Cup, are completely fine for those of you that were wondering.
Where Is The Line?
Having a punt with your mates is fine, let’s say three mates are watching a football match and between them one thinks team A will win, the other team B and the third thinks it will be a draw. If all three of you put £10 on this with the winner taking £20 plus their £10 back then this is OK.
Where it is not OK is if you start acting like a bookmaker. For example, you can’t take bets off a load of people and take a cut for your own commercial gain. Likewise you couldn’t run a card game or game of chance where you take bets and earn a profit, but you and your mates could play a game of chance between you for money as long as no one is taking a cut from that.
The rules around betting and gambling are there mainly to prevent harm to people and to prevent crime, which is why gambling companies have to be licensed. The rules are also in place to ensure gambling companies pay relevant taxes too, which is a big reason why you can’t make commercial gain if you are not licensed.