UK Gambling Law – What You Need to Know

Since 2000, there has been a sudden surge in gambling activities all over the world, especially in the UK, where online gaming has become the most favourite pastime for a majority of men and women. The main reasons behind such popularity (in the UK) are the laws that govern both online and offline gaming industries. These laws not only protect players’ rights but also play a key role, to keep casino operators under a strict eye.
UK Gambling Law – What You Need to Know
Blog - January 2, 2020

UK Gambling Laws – Why Are These Important

Unlike most of the countries that have defined enigmatical laws for online betting, in the UK, these laws are straight enough for players to understand and fight for their rights. The UK Gambling Commission or UKGC is the authority that implements these laws on both online and land-based gambling industries. Gambling Commission further answers to the Department of Culture, Media and Sports.

The Beginnings of Gambling Laws in the United Kingdom

The UK is home to some of the most prestigious bookmakers, and the English lands hold a rich gambling history dating back to the 18th century. Although the majority of the wagering laws that are implemented these days were introduced in 2005, therefore, we can divide the history into two major parts.

The Early Acts

In 1960, the UK government took the very first step in order to legalize the betting business. They introduced the UK Betting and Gaming Act that allowed the bingo halls to be operated legally under the government’s own watch, for the first time in the kingdom’s history. The new legislations laid down a clear set of rules and regulations for the gaming industry.

Though these laws proved to be pretty hard for the business, and most of the famous names in the business were unable to meet the requirements and were never heard again. From May 1961 to onwards, a little more than 10,000 betting establishments were licenced under the new act, but later the number kept on decreasing. The main reason established by the authorities for this incline was that the laws were too strict for the business.

Therefore, to provide the industry with a much-needed boost, an array of major amendments was tabled and approved in 1981, and the new act was named as the Betting and Duties Act. Following these amendments, the betting shops were allowed to provide a more comfortable environment for players with refreshments and seats. Though this act was also pretty strict as it restricted the casinos from advertising any kinds of products, hence, it also didn’t prove to be that beneficial for the business.

Need for a New Gambling Law UK

The industry kept on suffering until online or internet betting was introduced in the late ’90s. A majority of seasoned players were shifting to online betting as they now had the liberty to place their bets right from the comfort of their couches. Although, online betting came with its own drawbacks.

One of the major issues that online players immediately faced was of scams as online casinos were operating without any jurisdictions, and hence were free to deal with players as they wanted to without any interventions. Therefore, the government was forced to bring yet another legalizing act.

The Gambling Act 2005 

In 2005, following the popularity of online betting, the government had to come up with another, clearer set of terms and conditions for the operators to ensure the player’s wellness. Under this act, a new authority (the UK Gambling Commission) was established. Every operator willing to provide any form of services (online or offline) inside the kingdom, was required to acquire a licence from the UK Gambling Commission.

Player’s Benefits 

The Gambling Act 2005 opened new doors for punters as it allowed every UK resident to gamble without any restrictions except for the age (18 years). Plenty of new games were also approved, including online slots, virtual poker, virtual lottery.

The new act also made sure that the player gets more secure and fair services. Each of the casino licenced under the commission had to prove their trustworthiness and reliability, even before they can acquire the required licence. Furthermore, the commission was allowed to act as a third party in case of any disputes between the players and the casino.

Amendments in the Gambling Act 2005

Since 2005, two major amendments are introduced in the Gambling Act 2005. The first one was in 2014, and the second in 2018. The 2014 update made it compulsory for international gambling brands to acquire UK Gambling Commission licence if they are willing to provide and advertise gambling services to the UK residents.

The updates of 2018 made it compulsory for online casinos to take a maximum of 72 hours for the age verification process. In case of underage betting, the original gambled amount should be returned back to the players.

Moreover, few casinos were found to be treating the players unfairly by asking for extra documentation, hence, in 2018 update online casinos were asked to proceed with only three products (age, address and name).

Gambling in UK

The UK Gambling Commission

Established in 2005, The UK Gambling Commission is the major authority that makes sure that the Gambling Act 2005 is implemented in its full form. The commission is responsible for regulations, licensure, and responsible gaming inside the UK.

The Commission overlooks each and every department and form of gambling taking place inside the kingdom’s jurisdictions. Let it be online betting or the land-based, brick and mortar casinos, everything operates under the commission’s eye except for the Spread Betting, which is overlooked by the Department of Financial Conduct Authority.

The UK Gambling Commission Finances

The commission operates as an independent, public body that answers to the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sports. The said department is also responsible for the funding and auditing of the commission. Moreover, the UK Gambling Commission also runs its matters through licensing fees and by collecting fines from operators failing to operate according to the listed laws.

Here are some of the major fines and actions enforced by the commission:

  • Camelot Group – 2016; £3 Million for Failing to Verify a Fraudulent Lottery Ticket.
  • William Hill – 2018; £3 Million for Failing to Protect Players Rights and Money Laundering.
  • LeoVegas – 2018; £2 Million for Misleading Advertisement.
  • 32Red – 2018; £2 Million for Overlooking a Problem Gambler.
  • Ladbrokes Coral – 2019; £2.9 Million for Failing to Fulfil Anti-Money Laundering and Social Responsibility.

In addition to these fines, the commission has cancelled licences for more than 100 online and offline casinos for not fulfilling their responsibilities.

Aims and Responsibilities

The commission functions with a clearly stated aim and that is to keep the crime out of the gamble. They are responsible for fair, transparent and secure betting operations and also for child and vulnerable adult protection.

These are the steps that the UK Gambling Commission can take to fulfil the above-mentioned responsibilities:

  • Can issue and revoke license.
  • Can investigate and prosecute illegal affairs.
  • Can impose and collect fines.
  • Can advise the local and national government in casino affairs.
  • Can restrict any illegal activity.

Whitelist Jurisdictions

Over the years, the UK Gambling Commission has become the trademark of safety and security inside and outside of the UK. A majority of the online and land-based casinos proudly display commissions badge on their premises and websites. Though you may come across several other licensing badges displayed on these sites as well. Those badges are from the whitelist jurisdictions.

Whitelist is a list of jurisdictions that meets the rules and regulations put forward by the UK Gambling Act 2005. Therefore, the online casinos that have acquired their licences from any of these jurisdictions are allowed to provide and advertise betting services inside the UK.

These are the jurisdictions listed on the whitelist:

  • European Economic Area (EEA) Countries
  • Tasmania
  • Gibraltar
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Alderney
  • Isle-of-Man.

The whitelist provides an exception for international operators to provide their services inside the UK and enjoy more favourable taxes. Although, the government and the authorized commission has faced a healthy criticism in this regard as the whitelist clearly contradicts the Gambling Law UK 2005 which states that no international body is allowed to provide or advertise wagering services inside the UK without acquiring a licence from the UK Gambling Commission.

Moreover, the kingdom’s plans to part ways from Europe will surely affect the whitelist; hence, the future of the whitelist doesn’t appear to be that bright. But for now, punters from the UK are allowed to gamble on all of the online casinos carrying a licence from any of these jurisdictions.

Why Are UK Gambling Laws Important?

Gambling laws UK have become the holy grail for other jurisdictions as they tend to cover each and every aspect of online and offline betting. From the player’s protection to ensuring fair gaming, UK wagering laws has really changed the course for the industry.

UK wagering laws lay down an array of benefits for punters. Here we are mentioning a few of those so you can have an idea of what perks are waiting for you if you decide to gamble in the UK.

Tax Relaxation

For starters, according to gambling laws UK, there are no taxes enforced on wins. Isn’t that great?

Child Protection

Everyone is allowed to gamble unless they are younger than 18 years old, and online casinos must take only 72 hours for age verification. Only after age verification, the casino can allow the withdrawals; otherwise, they must return the stakes back to the underage players.

Faster Services

Before March 2018, online casinos were exploiting players identity by asking for sensitive personal information; therefore, the commission has to enforce a new law that allows online casinos to proceed with the minimal player’s credentials. Now players are only required to provide the name, address and date of birth to online in order to start wagering (more identifications may be required before withdrawals).


Safety and security is the topmost priority for the commission. All of the casino operators and software providers have to prove their reliability and trustworthiness before they can acquire from the commission. The matter just doesn’t end here as the commission keeps a close eye on casinos’ proceeding and if there is something that violates the law, the licence for that casino is immediately cancelled.

Anti-Gambling Addiction

UK Gambling Commission has also taken some serious steps in order to cope with gamble addiction. Over the years, gambling addiction has increased dramatically, and in 2018 the number of players falling to this addiction has surged to 400,000 alone in the UK.

UK Gambling Commission has approved multiple organizations that can help you to deal with this issue. Moreover, many online casinos licenced under the commission offer free support for players affected by this issue.

Fair Gaming

Fair gaming is another major milestone achieved by the UK Gambling Commission working under the UK Gambling Act 2005. The act clearly states that all of the games that any software provider is producing should be audited and certified as RNG prior to their release. This step makes sure that players are putting their bets on fair games and that the games are not programmed to produce pre-decided results.

What’s the Conclusion

Everything that we have stated in this article brings us to the conclusion that the UK laws for wagering are more important than we think they are. Players simply can sign up and start betting, assuming that the game and the platform will be fair to them. But believe us, it won’t be possible without a strong authority keeping an eye on these occasions.

Our site is often filled with scam reports and players’ reviews regarding late payments and unfair customer support from the casinos. Thankfully, all of those complaints are registered against online casinos from jurisdictions other than the UK. If you are playing on any of the UK licenced casinos, you surely are in the safe hands.

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