Poker in pubs could soon be permitted

It has emerged that the Government is considering sanctioning poker games in pubs that are for small stakes. Proposals have been put forward to limit player losses to £10 in an evening, thereby ensuring that the game is played for purely social reasons.

Poker has become incredibly popular in the U.K over the last few years, with poker tournaments making it onto mainstream television and the game acquiring celebrity enthusiasts. It is thought the move could see the game become as much as part of pub culture as darts and pool.

In an eagerness to be one step ahead, many pubs have signed up to national pub poker leagues, similar to those found for pool and darts. At the moment, host pubs are not allowed to directly benefit financially from the games, but many report a rise in bar sales. Such leagues work within current legislation because players play for points, not money.

When the 2005 Gambling Act comes into law next September, it is thought many current gambling rules will be relaxed. As such, gambling on “equal chance games” like bridge and more traditional pub games will be allowed without the pub seeking permission from the local authority or the Gambling Commission.

However, restricting the losses a player may take in a night will be hard to enforce but the Department of Culture, Media and Sport will soon detail how to police this in a consultation paper.

The rise in the popularity of poker in the U.K has led the Government to discuss with the Gambling Commission ways of managing its introduction into mainstream culture. The Government estimates there are 1 million regular internet gamblers in the U.K, staking an average of one thousand pounds a year, with most of it being gambled on poker sites.

Editor, - 2006-11-20 11:40:43

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