Police raid on gambling den

Poker table found at Last Chance Saloon
Poker table found at Last Chance Saloon

A TOWN centre pub has been shut down after police uncovered an illegal gambling den.

Five poker tables and thousands of poker chips were found when officers raided Last Chance Saloon, on Cross Street in Halifax.

Poker table found at Last Chance Saloon

Poker table found at Last Chance Saloon

Tables were embossed with “Last Chance Saloon Poker Club Halifax”.

The pub’s licence has now been revoked by Calderdale Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee, following an application by West Yorkshire Police.

The committee heard that four of the tables and between 4,000 and 5,000 chips were discovered on the first floor, and the other table was found on the second floor.

Nicholas Bannister, 24, premises licence holder at the pub, said, having read advice from the Gambling Commission, he believed he was able to accommodate gambling, as long as bets did not exceed a certain amount.

But the committee heard the floor where gambling was taking place was not covered under the pub’s licence and records of amounts bet and won - also a condition of legal gambling - had not been kept.

Mr Bannister said he had not realised he was allowing gambling illegally and had made a mistake. He thought all floors of the building were covered by the licence.

He said he had spent time discussing the licence with officers from Calderdale Council and West Yorkshire Police previously in the hope of avoid breaching its conditions.

“I wanted to get everything right,” he said.

The committee also heard concerns that the late night alcohol delivery service operated from Last Chance Saloon had not been checking customers had ID.

Conditions of the licence for the service stated that a strict challenge 25 policy should be enforced.

Mr Bannister said the delivery business had made between 70 and 90 deliveries since it started 10 weeks ago, and the vast majority of customers had been people known to him or his business partner.

He admitted he had not always asked for ID from people he knew well

“There are people whose 18th birthday and 21st birthday parties I’ve been to,” he said.

The committee heard there were concerns about drug dealing at the pub and that the premises were associated with serious crime.

Mr Bannister admitted he had smoked cannabis but strongly denied any involvement with supplying drugs or serious crime, describing the accusations as “absurd”.

He said before the raids, he had started requesting advice from an experienced licensee and planned to continue that.

He said he was also dissolving his partnership Paul Pyzer who he claimed had organised the gambling.

But the committee resolved to revoke the Last Chance Saloon’s licence.

Sergeant Mick Richmond, from Halifax Central neighbourhood policing team, said they will not tolerate breaches of licensing conditions and will act on any information they receive.