PLANNED fees for thrift clubs have been dramatically reduced by the Jersey Gambling Commission which regulates gambling in the Island.
Since the start of the year, the Gambling (Jersey) Law 2012 has required that any thrift clubs that open raffles or football card competitions to the public will need a licence, and the commission had set a three-month grace period to hear from clubs that will be affected.
Thrift clubs take subscriptions from members every week, and then top up the total savings with the proceeds of events, raffles and football cards, before paying the money back to members just before Christmas to help cover the costs of the festive season.
The three-month grace period is about to end, and the commission has decided to set a sliding scale for annual fees after the landlords of some pubs had complained about the £150 cost that was initially proposed.
Under the scale, most pub thrift clubs will be paying just £25 per year for their licences. The sliding scale covers the value of the gambling services that are open to the public – and only what the club makes from the gambling offered (all the money received from players, minus the value of prizes paid). The savings part of the club remains exempt. Gambling that is only open to thrift club members is not covered, and does not have to be licensed by the commission.
The scale is as follows:
- Clubs making up to £5,000 – fee £25.
- Clubs making up to £10,000 – fee £75.
- Clubs making more than £10,000 – fee £150.
Apart from the licence fee, the clubs have to inform the commission of the thrift club’s name, where it operates, how many members it has, the names of the promoters, the kinds of gambling activities and how much is raised through gambling.
Dr Jason Lane, the chief executive of the Jersey Gambling Commission, said that the revised fee system reflected the priorities in the new Gambling Law which adopts a ‘light touch’ approach on small and charitable bodies operating gambling services, and which focuses on commercial operators instead.
He said: "We’ve listened to what was said when we proposed the original licence system, taken on board some of the concerns expressed, and have come up with a new system which we think is fairer and more straightforward.
"The licence fee for the lowest band only just covers the cost of a police check, so the commission is certainly not using this to raise enormous amounts of money. If a thrift club is offering gambling services worth more than £10,000 to its members and the public that is exactly the sort of activity that the commission was established to regulate."