The bid by pub retailer and brewer Greene King to run bingo within its outlets has caused the UK Gambling Commission great concern. The Gambling Commission initially turned down Greene King’s application for a bingo licence but this decision was overturned by a judge on appeal to a First-Tier Tribunal.
The judge ruled that the Gambling Commission did not have the authority to dictate whether or not the brewer should be awarded a licence but rather that the Commission should have given guidance to the local authority in question.
Now, in turn, the Gambling Commission has been granted permission to appeal the decision from Greene King’s appeal.
The Gambling Commission posted the following statement on its website before Christmas:
“The First-Tier Tribunal has granted the Gambling Commission permission to appeal the decision requiring the Commission to grant an operating licence to a pub chain to introduce commercial gambling with potentially large numbers of high stake and prize gaming machines into pubs. This ruling appears to handicap the Commission in doing what it was set up to do – that is, react to new developments and protect the vulnerable.
We are clear, and this view is strongly supported by the government, that commercial betting, gaming and bingo and any associated high stakes and prize machines, should be provided only in separate premises licensed for that specific purpose – premises that adults make a deliberate choice to visit in order to gamble.
A judgment from the Upper Tribunal should hopefully clarify what we can and can’t do by way of operating licences. Meanwhile, we are working closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to see how we can both use our various powers to keep commercial gambling in dedicated licensed premises and stop it spreading to pubs.”
For its part the Bingo Association is supportive of Greene King’s bid to run bingo games. The Bingo Association’s CEO Miles Baron said: “If Greene King or anyone else like them are serious about playing bingo and meeting the licensing requirements then we don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be able to”.
“We exist to support and represent anyone who operates a licensed bingo premises. On that basis, there’s every reason for us to welcome and support them”.