The British government is easing up on its gambling laws, loosening their grip on the restrictions surrounding playing card games, including poker, for money in pubs and bars.

Beginning next year, pubs in England and Wales will be permitted to hold poker games for cash under reforms to the existing gambling laws. At present, only those pubs with permits from their local council are permitted to hold such games.

Although the amount of loss is restricted at the pegged 10 UK Pounds a night, many are concerned that the government is wagering the public’s safety and well-being.

The relaxing of the gambling laws comes amid the rising popularity of poker. Recent research suggests that almost 6 million people now gamble online in the UK alone. Another study suggests that for the average Joe, 1,000 UK Pounds a year is allotted to gambling online, much of it going to poker.

Under the British law that dates back to 1968, pubs and bars must first seek permission from licensing authorities before they can house poker, bingo, bridge and other “equal-chance” games or games of luck. Dominoes and cribbage however are exempt from this law.

The new law is expected to take effect by September of next year.

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