The Gambling Commission is launching a crackdown amid fears criminals are attempting to cash-in on the internet-driven boom in poker. Poker players are increasingly being lured into illegal high stakes games in pubs and clubs, the government's gambling watchdog fears.
Landlords have been warned they could lose their license if they allow poker to be played on their premises. It comes amid US moves to rein in the booming online gambling market.
The Commission says a big increase in unregulated poker games in pubs and clubs could lead to rise in violence - and unwary punters being cheated out of large amounts of cash.
Phil Brear, the Gambling Commission's director of operations says, "The law is complex but we have two simple messages: First under the existing law many of these games are illegal or are likely to lead to illegal games being played.
"Secondly, illegal poker games can lead to people being cheated into losing very large sums of money, and we are concerned that people will be exploited if games are not properly supervised."
Some traditional games, such as bridge, solo, whist and rummy are allowed in pubs provided the winner walks away with no more than the price of a round of drinks. Bingo is also allowed - provided it is an "incidental activity" and the stakes are not too high. Poker leagues - where players compete for points rather than cash - are a legal grey area, the commission admits, as the organizers often offer prizes in the later stages.
July 24, 2006