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Pools operator application guidance notes

These notes are for the guidance of applicants for registration as pool promoters under Section 4 and Schedule 2 of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963.

Part 1 - Registration


1.  For the purposes of these guidance notes:

A "pool promoter" is a person who carries on the business of pool betting otherwise than on a track.

"Pool betting" is defined by Section 10 of the Betting and Gaming Duties Act 1981 as any bet, unless it is a bet at fixed odds, and in particular, bets shall be held to be made by way of pool betting wherever a number of persons make bets:

"a. on terms that the winnings of such of those persons as are winners shall be, or be a share of, or be determined by reference to, the stake money paid or agreed to be paid by those persons, whether the bets are made by means of a totalisator, or by filling up and returning coupons or other printed or written forms, or in any other way, or

b. on terms that the winnings of such of those persons as are winners shall be, or shall include, an amount (not determined by reference to the stake money paid or agreed to be paid by those persons) which is divisible in any proportions among such of those persons as are winners, or

c. on the basis that the winners or their winnings shall, to any extent, be at the discretion of the promoter or some other person.

A "bet" is a bet a fixed odds within the meaning of this section only if each of the persons making it knows or can know, at the time he makes it, that amount he will win, except in so far as that amount is to depend on the result of the event or events betted on, or on any such event taking place or producing a result or on the numbers taking part in any such event, or on the starting prices or totalisator odds for any such event, or on there being totalisator odds on any such event, or on the time when his bet is received by any person with or through whom it is made.

'Starting prices' means, in relation to any event, the odds ruling at the scene of the event immediately before the start, and 'totalisator odds' means:

a. In relation to a race which is a recognised horse race within the meaning of section 55(1) of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963, the odds paid on bets on that race made by way of sponsored pool betting, and

b. In relation to any other event, the odds paid on bets made by means of a totalisator at the scene of the event.

A bet made with or through a person carrying on a business of receiving or negotiating bets, being a bet made in the course of that business, shall be deemed not to be a bet at fixed odds within the meaning of this section if the winnings of the person by whom it is so made consist or may consist wholly or in part of something other than money.

Where a person carries on a business of receiving or negotiating bets and there is or has been issued in connection with that business any advertisement or other publication calculated to encourage in persons making bets of any description with or through him a belief that the bets are made on the basis mentioned in subsection (c) above, then any bets of that description subsequently made with or through him in the course of that business shall be deemed for the purposes of this section to be made on that basis."

A "pool betting business" is defined in the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963, Section 55 as a 'business involving the receiving or negotiating of bets made by way of pool betting'.

'Track' is also defined in Section 55 of the Act as 'premises on which races of any description, athletic sports or other sporting events take place'.

Applications for registration

2.  Application for registration as a pool promoter must be made on the form supplied by the Council, which must be completed in all respects and signed by the applicant. Registration is subject to payment of an initial registration and an annual continuation fee, as set out in the next section.

3.  A registration is in force from the date of registration until 31st December, and is renewable on 1st January each year.

Registration fees

4. The fees specified below are payable on making application for registration and for continuation of the registration:

a. Upon making application for registration - £450.

b. Continuation fee payable on 1st January in each year the registration remains in force - £300.

5.  Any continuation fee which remains unpaid after 1 January in any year may be recovered by the Council as a debt.

Registration, refusal and revocation of registration

6.  The Council may refuse to register or revoke the registration of any person or, in the case of a body corporate, any director or manager, if that person has been convicted of any offence under Section 4(2) of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 (carrying on business as an unregistered pool promoter), under paragraph 29 of Schedule 4 to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 (obstruction of accountant; failure to comply with accountant's requirements, or knowingly giving false or misleading information; or failure to comply with any duties imposed on a registered pool promoter) or under the Pool Betting Act 1954, or of any offence involving fraud or dishonesty.

7.  The Council will revoke the registration of a registered pool promoter if satisfied:

a. That he does not intend to carry on a pool betting business; or

b. That he has permanently ceased to carry on pool betting business; or

c. That the place or principal place at which he carries on his pool betting business will not be, or has ceased to be, in its area.

8.  Registration will not be refused or revoked unless the application, or registered pool promoter, has been given an opportunity of being heard before a Committee of the Council.

9.  Where the registration of any person has been refused or revoked, the Council will notify its decision and that person may, within 21 day, appeal to the Crown Court.

10.  Where the Council revokes a registration the registered pool promoter may continue the business for 21 days of being notified or, if he has given proper notice of appeal, until the determination or abandonment of the appeal.

11.  If a registered pool promoter dies, his business may be continued by his legal representatives for three months from the date of his death.

Appointment of accountant

12.  The law requires the Council to appoint a qualified accountant, who is not an employee of the pool betting business, to exercise and perform the duties specified in paragraphs 20 to 28 of Schedule 2 to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963. (These are summarised in Part 2 of these guidance notes).

13.  In practice, the Council asks the applicant to recommend a qualified accountant who is then appointed by the Council if found satisfactory. (The Council may appoint an accountant other than the one nominated by the applicant, if they so wish). Any remuneration of the accountant (including expenses) is paid by the Council but is recoverable in full from the registered pool promoter as a debt.

Pool betting duty

14.  The Council requires evidence that the applicant has made arrangements with the local Collector, Customs and Excise with regard to the payment of pool betting duty. Such evidence must be furnished with the form of application.


15.  Any person guilty of an offence under Section 4 or paragraph 29 of Schedule 2 to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 shall be liable:

a. On summary conviction, to a fine of up to £1,000 or, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction for a similar offence, to imprisonment for up to three months or fine up to £1,000, or to both; or

b. On conviction on indictment, to a fine or, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction for a similar offence, to imprisonment for up to one year, or to a fine, or to both.

Part 2 - Conduct of registered pool promoter's business

Appointment of accountant

16.  As noted in paragraph 12 above, the Council must appoint an accountant whose entire costs and expenses are recoverable from the pool promoter. The accountant is responsible for undertaking the details work of supervising the promoter's operations.

17.  The pool promoter has to submit to the accountant detailed information about each competition, showing among other things, the stakes, the proportion paid in winnings and the expenses apportioned to each competition. The Schedule stipulates that the expenses borne by each competition must be proportional to the stakes placed in that competition and that the prizes must be derived from the stakes alone.

Information to the accountant and the council

18.  The registered pool promoter must submit in August, covering the preceding twelve month period to 31 July a statement to the accountant and the Council showing the aggregate stakes in the competitions held during the year, both before and after deducting pool betting duty and prizes. The latter is the amount left to cover expenses and the promoter's commission and, unless it is a 3% of total stakes or less, the commission must be shown separately.

19.  The Council must preserve these annual statements for at least two years and allow public inspection free of charge.

Accountant's annual report

20.  The accountant must submit an annual report to the Council stating that he has examined the various reports submitted by the pool promoter, that he has undertaken any further enquiries he thinks necessary and that he has no cause to think the law has been broken.

The Schedule prescribes that it is an offence to fail to comply with the requirements properly made by the accountant or his staff, or to obstruct him in the exercise of his duties.

HM Revenue & Customs

21.  The pool promoter's records are also subject to scrutiny by HM Revenue & Customs to ensure that pool betting duty has been collected.