Two individuals have been ordered to pay more than £32,000 in legal costs and fines after they pleaded guilty to running illegal poker tournaments in a gambling den at a pool bar in London.
Nicholas Clark and Luke Flack ran poker tournaments unlicensed casino at the Pool Bar Private Members Club in Cambridge Road, London, which offered prizes of up to £50,000 six times a week. Kingston Crown Court heard that Clark and Flack ran the illegal tournaments for a year before police raided the venue in December 2014, which uncovered a member-only poker club.
Both Clark and Flack pleaded guilty running an unauthorised casino, contrary to Section 37 of the Gambling Act 2005, after facing charges of of concealing, disguising, converting, transferring or removing criminal property and entering into, using or controlling criminal property in relation to the illegal poker games.
Judge Judith Coello fined the pair £29,000 in the form of a payment to Kingston Council, and ordered Clark to pay a fine of £2,300, and Flack a fine of £1,000.
The Group Manager Enforcement for the Kingston and Sutton Shared Environment Service, Jan Gransden, 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.”
Paul Evans, the Head of Legal Services at the South London Legal Partnership, who represented Kingston Council, 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.”
The managers of the club, Jamie Kirkpatrick and David Thompson, both admitted unauthorised use of a premises and controlling criminal property, but both escaped with formal cautions instead of being fined.