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Inside food & drink manufacturing

Sectors > Ambient foods

Cracking the code

08-Nov-2007

I sincerely hope that every pub in the country has a copy of the Code of Practice for Equal Chance Gaming, issued by the Gambling Commission for licensed premises. I suspect not, however.

Since the beginning of September, pubs come under the effects of the new Gambling Act, whether anything much has changed or not. Most will just carry on with machines and the occasional raffle. Some will have taken the opportunity to "legitimise" their poker schools, which is where parts of the new Code will have an impact. As there has been no requirement (except for a few pubs whose current permits have run out) to contact the licensing authority, they may not be aware of what the new protocols require.

The Code of Practice is, to some extent, binding on pub operators. In particular, it requires the designated premises supervisor (DPS) to be, in addition, the "gambling supervisor". Here is the first difficulty, because the word supervisor suggests that you are there to keep an eye on the gaming. But many a DPS is not permanently based at the premises, and also may work on a shift basis.

The code says nothing about delegation of responsibility, except to say that any gaming must be located so that it can be supervised "by staff whose duties include supervision of gaming". Have you added these duties to your bar staff's job description yet? If not, you had better do so now.

I accept that it is the duty of the Commission to produce these Codes, but has anyone there ever been in a pub? One of the more ludicrous requirements is that the gaming supervisor "should ensure a pleasant atmosphere". I think it means that gambling should not turn into a source of quarrelling or anger. But then, so many other things can trigger a fight that it seems inopportune to single out small-stake gambling. Dominoes can be a pretty noisy pastime, as I have seen. On the other hand, cribbage is a bit more sedate.

It is poker where the Code gets serious. This suggests that cash games should not be permitted, but if they are "the pot should be kept in sight so that it can be viewed by the gaming supervisor at all times". Don't they think he has other things to do? It sounds so much like a casino rule, I cannot see how they expect this level of supervision.

What is clear is that they expect the cards, chips and the like to be provided by the pub, rather than by players, and locked away safely when not in use, presumably so that they

cannot be "doctored". The supervisor is to keep a record of all games played, the number of players and the amount staked. He or she has also to keep an eye out for side bets and secret "raises". What a job!

Strangely, when it comes to bingo, there is hardly a rule in sight. Quite a lot of aggro can occur, even if the weekly stakes are limited to £2,000. But the Commission has nothing to say about how the game is played, who does the calling (presumably the DPS/gaming supervisor - he has time on his hands) and who supplies the cards. So the Code is a bit lop-sided here.

You may think I am taking this flippantly. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just wish the Commission could have been more realistic about what goes on in the licensed trade, and tailored this Code accordingly.

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