Do UK Bingo Sites Need Licenses?

Bingo has been a big business in the UK for hundreds of years. But in the last 15 years, online bingo has exploded in popularity, as seen with the number of new sites on sites like To protect players from unscrupulous operators, the gambling commission regulates and licenses all bingo establishments, whether land-based or remote online bingo platforms.

The Gambling Commission issues several different licenses for bingo establishments. The type of license you need depends on the kind of game being operated. The available licenses are an operating license, a personal management license, or a premises license.

The only exception is if you’re operating a bingo game as a private bingo night or for a fundraising event. In those cases, a gambling license is unnecessary, but certain regulations must still be followed, especially for charitable nonprofit events.

What is an Operating License?

An operating license constitutes permission from the Gambling Commission for an individual entity to provide facilities for remote gambling purposes, either online or by other technologies, and to publicly advertise the business to consumers.

Bingo operators must obtain an operating license when prizes and stakes offered to the public exceed £2,000 weekly. There are three operational license classifications to consider: non-remote, remote, and ancillary. Bingo operators will need one or more of these licenses before their gambling facilities can be offered to consumers in the UK.

How to Get an Operating License

To obtain a bingo operating license, you must apply to the Gambling Commission and meet all the requirements necessary for approval. The requirements for obtaining their consent vary; therefore, more information about the application process and approval requirements can be found on the official Gambling Commission website.

What is a Personal Management License?

To qualify for a personal management license, bingo operators can conduct games in the form of on-premises entertainment; the bingo games must be restricted to adults only and cannot be associated with games conducted on other premises.

Stakes and prizes from the bingo games provided by the venue cannot exceed a maximum of £2,000 weekly. Awards larger than the maximum allowable amount will require obtaining a bingo operating license.

How to Get a Personal Management License

Obtaining a personal management license is a two-step process. The first step is getting a Level II Personal License Holders Qualification award. The PLHQ is authorization to sell alcohol in a retail establishment like a restaurant, pub, or bar.

After passing the course and being certified, operators are eligible to get a personal license and must apply through their local city council.

What is a Premises License?

A premises license is issued to operators who intend to conduct gambling operations at a physical location. This license is different from the one required for remote bingo operations.

To provide physical facilities as gambling premises, operators need to obtain a premises license after first being approved for the relevant gambling operator license obtained from the official Gambling Commission website.

How to Get a Premises License

The premises license is obtained from the local licensing authority where the land-based facility will operate. The local licensing authority is typically the local city council which can be found on GOV.UK. The operator must apply for an operating license with the Gambling Commission before applying for a premises license.

It may be helpful for operators to review the local licensing authority’s gambling statement before applying for the license to be better informed of the necessary requirements for establishing a gambling premises in their area.

Finally, the bingo operator must publicly announce that they have applied by publishing in a local newspaper or newsletter or conveniently posting a physical notice outside the intended premises a minimum of ten working days after submitting an application for approval.

Wrap Up

The type of bingo license required by an operator depends on the bingo gambling establishment intended for launch. Strict guidelines must be followed for the application to be approved, and any deviation from the published guidelines can delay application approval or the application can be denied.

The cost of obtaining a bingo license depends on the expected annual gross receipts that the gambling establishment projects. To better understand how to estimate those costs, operators should visit the Gambling Commission website for more information.

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