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Pub betting conviction sends warning message to licensees ahead of Grand National week

28 March 2014

Publicans are being reminded to keep illegal betting out of pubs following a conviction on Merseyside in the lead up to next week’s Grand National.

A 64 year-old St. Helens pub manager, Cedric Fitzpatrick, yesterday pleaded guilty to providing illegal gambling under section 37 of the Gambling Act 2005 at St. Helens Magistrates Court. He was sentenced to 100 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £930.

HM Revenue and Customs also imposed back-dated tax of £2,952 and penalties totalling £9,750 on Fitzpatrick for general betting duty, failure to declare betting income and submit betting duty returns.

Fitzpatrick was manager of the now closed White House Pub, Sutton Road, St. Helens in 2012 when the premises was subject to a multi-agency operation and subsequent investigation involving officers from St. Helens Council, the Gambling Commission, Merseyside Police and HM Revenue and Customs. The operation found approximately 700 completed betting slips and a diary containing details of bets placed between December 2011 and July 2012.

As part of the investigation a licensed bookmaker, Terence Crehan of Betterbet TC Ltd was formally warned by the Gambling Commission for assisting in providing facilities for unlicensed bookmaking at the White House.

The Commission has worked consistently with licensing authorities and the police to warn bookmakers, publicans and club officials that commercial betting is not allowed in pubs and clubs. A quick guide on the law is available (opens in new tab).

The Grand National is expected to be the busiest day’s trading of the year across more than 9,000 licensed betting premises and websites available to consumers in Great Britain.

The Commission’s Director of Regulatory Operations, Nick Tofiluk said:

“Many people enjoy a bet on the Grand National and there is plenty of choice and competition in the licensed market.

“This case is a timely reminder that we expect those managing alcohol licensed premises to avoid offering betting facilities in pubs – even on a day when public interest in betting is high

“If individuals persist in illegally offering pub betting the Commission and its local partners will take significant action against them.”

EDIT: On 14 October, 2014, magistrates ordered Fitzpatrick to forfeit assets worth £25,774 and pay £1,800 costs following proceedings mounted by Merseyside Police under the Proceeds of Crime Act (2002).

Note to editors

  1. The Gambling Commission (the Commission) regulates gambling in the public interest alongside its co-regulators local licensing authorities. It does so by keeping crime out of gambling, by ensuring that gambling is conducted fairly and openly, and by protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling. Subject to these overriding public protection objectives, as regulator of the National Lottery the Commission monitors and challenges Camelot to raise the maximum amount for good causes. The Commission also provides independent advice to government on gambling in Britain.
  2. The Commission and local licensing authorities are responsible for licensing and regulating all gambling in Great Britain other than spread betting, which is the responsibility of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) (opens in new tab).
  3. See the Terms & Conditions section of our website for information on legal advice (opens in new tab).
  4. The quick guide is called Facilitating betting in pubs and clubs is illegal (opens in new tab).
  5. The Commission has also issued formal regulatory warnings to a small number of licensed betting operators and hundreds of pubs and clubs across Great Britain have been warned in the past. There have been a number of enforcement cases including last year when fines totalling more than £8,000 were levied on a bookmaker in West Wales.
  6. Further details of regulatory sanctions (opens in new tab) imposed by the Commission can be found on our website.

For all media enquiries, please contact the Gambling Commission press office.

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