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Poker organisers pay £32,000 after illegal gambling crackdown in Kingston

Two individuals have been ordered to pay over £32,000 in fines and legal costs to Kingston Council following a crackdown on illegal gambling at The Pool Bar Private Members Club on Cambridge Road.

Nicholas Clark and Luke Flack pleaded guilty to gambling offences at Kingston Crown Court on Friday 29 April. The offence involved the running of unlawful poker tournaments at the venue for over a year from November 2013 to December 2014.

Her Honour Judge Coello sentenced Nicholas Clark to a fine of £2,300 and Luke Flack to £1,000, on top of the £29,000 payment to the Council.

The Pool Bar Private Members Club at 198 Cambridge Road in Kingston was operating as an unregulated casino, with prizes of £50,000 on offer up to six times a week. The club’s licence as a non-commercial gambling premises was later surrendered and it is now no longer trading.

Kingston Council, the Metropolitan Police and the Gambling Commission inspected the business twice between November 2013 and December 2014 as part of a joint initiative. 

The managers of the club, David Thompson and Jamie Kirkpatrick also admitted their guilt, and accepted formal cautions, at an earlier hearing. 

On representing Kingston Council, Paul Evans, Head of Legal Services at the South London Legal Partnership, said: 

“Judge Coello observed that this was a serious offence. The defendants’ attempts to portray The Pool Bar as a genuine private members club were a sham from the start. Instead it was being run as a commercial enterprise for the financial benefit of individuals rather than as a club run by the members for the benefit of the members. Ignoring the strict regulations applying to casinos meant vulnerable people were not afforded the protections the law sought to provide.”

Jan Gransden, Group Manager Enforcement for the Kingston and Sutton Shared Environment Service, said: 

“Kingston Council does not tolerate any form of illegal trading. Poker clubs like The Pool Bar Private Members Club on Cambridge Road will be found, closed down and their operators prosecuted. We will always take a hard line on any illegal trading and will push for strong penalties, the revoking of licenses and closing down of premises. We hope this prosecution sends a clear message to those in the community who chose to carry out illegal gambling, or any illegal trading, within Kingston.”

Notes to editor
Clark and Flack pleaded guilty to running an unauthorised casino, contrary to Section 37 of the Gambling Act 2005.