UK gambling regulations are amongst the most flexible and favourable of any country in the world. Regulated by the UK Gambling Commission, British online bookmakers and casinos are made to adhere to a strict set of rules to offer services to players in the country.
Of course, there is always a lot of noise about whether gambling (or aspects of gambling) are legal. For some players, this causes confusion. Fortunately, this article aims to straighten out the bag of snakes and provide you with clear, concise answers regarding the legal situation of gambling at UK betting sites.
Is Gambling Legal in the United Kingdom?
Gambling is legal in the United Kingdom, both at land-based and online venues. However, there are sets of rules and regulations which govern just which types of games can be played, under what terms, and who can provide them. These come from the UK Gambling Commission.
Any internet betting portal which has been issued a UK Gambling Commission license has the right to offer gambling games to players in the country. Technically, Gibraltar or Maltese licensed casinos are legal in the UK under EU rules. However, after Brexit (assuming it happens), in theory, only those sites with UKGC licenses could operate legally in the United Kingdom. This is something that is starting to become the norm in the country already.
About the UK Gambling Commission
The UK Gambling Commission launched in 2005, under the Gambling Act. It regulates gambling in Great Britain, and controls the National Lottery, under the National Lottery Act of 1993. The goal of the UK Gambling Commission is to promote, fair, transparency clean and open betting options to players.
Any operators offering gambling-related services to players in the UK must apply for a UKGC license to do so. This binds them a strict set of rules regarding what they can and cannot do. Anti-fraud procedures, transparent wagering requirements on bonuses, and fair gambling games are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to those regulations.
Any online gambling operator who breaks those regulations is liable to be fined. In extreme cases – such as continual noncompliance with the rules – will see their license revoked.
Gambling Options in the UK
In Britain, offshore casinos are typically defined as those which offer betting services to players in the UK but do not hold a valid UK Gambling Commission license. Unlike other countries, the United Kingdom does not operate a blacklist of such sites. It does not punish players for visiting offshore casinos, nor does it demand that ISPs (internet service providers) block access to those domains. However, the Gambling Commission does go after operators who float the rules. Because of this, many offshore betting sites from across the globe can be accessed.
Given the surplus of legal, licensed internet betting sites in the United Kingdom, players do not need to visit offshore casinos. There are plenty of UKGC sites to choose from, and they can offer up the following types of gambling options:
- Casino Games: A host of online casino sites are regulated and licensed by the UKGC. These include most major worldwide brands and names. Typical games include online slots, video poker, table games, live dealer casino games and instant win titles. Many such sites are also mobile-friendly.
- Sports Betting: All the UK’s leading high-street bookies also run internet betting sites. These offer a wider variety of sports betting options than high-street outlets. Moreover, such sites also regularly provide casino games to their members.
- Bingo Gaming: Like high-street bookies, the UK’s bingo outlets also run online pages. These, too, can offer a variety (albeit a smaller selection) of casino games, alongside popular 90-ball and 75-ball bingo games. Bingo sites are amongst the most popular types of gambling websites in the country.
- Poker Games: Most of the world’s leading poker rooms operate in the UK. These seldom tend to offer casino games, although a few RNG (random number generator) poker titles can be played. Such sites also regularly provide satellite access to major poker tournaments, such as the WSOP (World Series of Poker).
- Lotteries: The National Lottery can be played both online and offline. High-street retailers sell tickets, but so too do online outlets. Other major global lotteries can also be played via such websites.
A Word on Bonuses and Promotions
The last thing that players need to know about UK Gambling Regulations is that the UKGC has recently cracked down on operators offering dodgy bonuses. All UK licensed operators are required to display clearly visible terms and conditions on any bonuses or promotions they provide to players. On top of that, the terms attached to these deals have to be fair, and within a range set by the Gambling Commission.
Any free spin deals which genuinely truly free must be referred to as “bonus spins”. The crackdown on dodgy wagering requirements and playthrough rates has seen the value of casino bonuses drop over the last year. However, many top UK casinos now offer wager-free bonuses and promotions as a result of that.
This naturally means that UK casinos are considerably safer for players to claim bonuses from, than many sites licensed elsewhere in the world, as the regulations around bonuses and promotions are not as strict.