Do you need a gambling licence to run a bingo night?

  • Updated
  • By Max Wright
Do you need a gambling license?

When organising a fun event like a bingo night to raise some funds for your chosen cause, the last thing you want to deal with is a bunch of legal jargon and confusion about whether you’re accidentally breaking the law.

As you may be aware, bingo is legally considered to be gambling and therefore falls under UK gambling legislation. 

Bingo halls and online bingo sites require a UK gambling licence to operate, but do you need to worry about this when organising a bingo night fundraiser? 

The short answer is no, not unless you don’t follow the rules. Unlike bingo sites, you don't need a gambling licence to host a bingo night. As long as you follow our instructions below and set up your bingo night correctly, you should be able to avoid any legal complications.

Is bingo gambling?

Yes, playing bingo in dedicated halls or playing online bingo is gambling. However, non commercial bingo nights are considered ‘gaming’ by the Gambling Commission, alongside casino nights and race nights. 

If you are running one of these events for commercial purposes and intending to make a profit then you will need a gambling licence in order to operate. If you want more information on how to go about this, please visit the Gambling Commission website

As you are likely intending on running a bingo night for fundraising purposes, then the rules are slightly different!

You do not need a gambling licence to run a fundraising event or a private bingo night, but that doesn’t mean you have free reign to run the event how you want.

Whether your event is open to the public or being held privately for a society (such as a sports club), you need to organise your bingo night to follow the below rules.

The key rules

  • Each player may only be charged £8 per day for anything related to the game 
  • This includes entry fees and stakes, but does include the costs of drinks and food
  • The total value paid out in prizes must be below £600 in total
  • A bingo event that takes place over multiple days may offer a prize of up to £900
  • After costs are deducted, the proceeds raised must not be used for private gain and must all be given to the specified good cause
  • Players must be told what good cause the bingo night will benefit before the game begins
  • Prizes must be advertised in advance and can not depend on how many people are playing
  • Under 18s are allowed to participate, as long as the above rules are met

As long as you follow the guidelines above you should be able to have a fun, profitable bingo night without running into any issues with legislation. For more detailed or specific information, please contact the Gambling Commission.

By now you should be clued up on whether you need a gambling license, but do you know what equipment you’ll need to run a bingo night?


Check out the previous article in the series: How to choose a charity or beneficiary. Visit the hub page and read our entire 12-part guide to organising a bingo night fundraiser here!