In the United Kingdom, unlike many regions around the world, the laws relating to online gambling are relatively straightforward. Some of the legislation in place is quite complicated, but this is only an issue for those that provide gambling services in some form. For UK residents looking to gamble the laws are, for the most part, pretty easy to understand.
Most forms of gambling in the UK, including over the internet, are legal and the industry is very well regulated. The Gambling Commission which answers to the government’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport regulates the industry (with the exception of spread betting which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) under the terms of the Gambling Act of 2005. Among other things they ensure that operators which offer gambling services, including online, meet the necessary standards.
As a result, betting and gaming is big business in the UK. There are many land based casinos and poker rooms throughout the region, and hundreds of retail betting shops. There are also a number of UK based gambling sites, and many more foreign based sites that legally provide their services to UK residents.
On this page, we look at how the relevant laws affect you when it comes to gambling online, and we explain more about the Gambling Commission and the Gambling Act of 2005. We also provide updates, when necessary, on any changes in the laws and regulations.
The Gambling Commission was established under the terms of the Gambling Act of 2005, assuming its full power two years later. It took over many of the responsibilities previously held by the Gaming Board for Great Britain, and it also became responsible for the regulation of online gambling. Additionally, in 2013 it took over regulation of the National Lottery from the National Lottery Commission.
According to the Gambling Act of 2005, the Gambling Commission has the power to issue a license to gambling operators and impose fines or revoke licenses if necessary. The act states the objectives of the Gambling Commission to be as follows:
When it comes to providing online gambling services to UK residents, only companies whose operations are based in the UK can be issued with licenses by the Gambling Commission. However, the organization has a whitelist of approved gambling jurisdictions. Operators who obtain licenses from within those jurisdictions may also service UK customers.
As a UK resident you can gamble online safely knowing that it’s legal to do so, providing you are age 18 or over. Therefore, you have a wide range of sites where you’ll be welcomed, including all the biggest and most reputable in the UK. Compared to those in many other parts of the world you really have it quite easy, and perhaps the most difficult thing you have to deal with is choosing which site to join.
You also have the benefit of online gambling being well regulated. Providing you stick to sites that are approved to provide their services to you, you can bet and play knowing that your chosen site meets the necessary standards to be appropriately licensed. Additionally you have an organization to turn to if you ever feel you have been treated unfairly.
Another advantage is the relevant taxation laws. In the UK, gambling winnings aren’t considered to be a taxable income, and therefore you won’t have to pay tax on anything you make through your betting or gaming. The government does tax the operators, but this has no effect on you as a customer.
We aim to keep you completely up to date with any changes in UK gambling legislation that may affect you and will provide the updates here.
The most notable change on the horizon at the time of writing is the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill. This contains proposals to make it a requirement for any gambling site wishing to advertise its services within the UK and accept UK customers to hold a license issued directly by the Gambling Commission. Currently sites can operate in the UK if they hold a license issued by a whitelisted gambling jurisdiction, as we mention above, but this would no longer be the case.
This bill is being challenged by some organizations from within the industry, including the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association.
**Please note that while we strive to provide completely accurate information to our readers, we aren’t lawyers and none of the above should be considered legal advice. Everything we have stated on this page reflects our own interpretations and opinions.**