The UK continues to be one of the top legalized online gambling markets in the world due to a number of reasons. The UK has a regulated gambling industry that used to be very liberal but in recent years has become a lot more stringent. Unlike the residents of grey jurisdictions such as the US or Australia, you don’t have to rely on offshore online casinos whenever you want to gamble.
You can choose from hundreds of top-rated online casinos licensed in the UK. This country goes several extra miles to protect customers and create safe, secure, and fair online gambling environments. As a result, the UK’s regulatory model has become highly respected worldwide.
- The UK online gambling market is thriving with healthy competition and multiple gaming options for players.
- An online casino can operate in the UK only after getting a license from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
- The most important UK gambling law is the Gambling Act of 2005.
- The UKGC has stepped up efforts in recent years to reduce problem gambling numbers.
Online Gambling UK – Latest Facts and Figures
- The UK gambling industry’s gross gambling yield (GGY) increased from £8.4 billion in 2011 to £14.4 billion in 2018, dropping by 0.5% in September 2019.
- 98,174 UK residents held gambling-related jobs in 2019.
- UK’s online casino GGY increased by £120.1 million (3.9%) from £3,070 million to £3,190 million from April 2018 to March 2019 and Oct 2018 – September 2019.
- The rise in GGY was because of an increase in online slots and table game revenue.
- UK players spent £2.60 on games of chance per week, which makes it more than £135.20 per year.
- The UK spends more than £1.2 billion per year on support and treatment for gambling addicts.
- 47% of UK residents say that they have gambled during the last month.
- 29.55% of UK players who play casino games believe they are making a profit.
- 0.5% of UK adults are problem gamblers.
Most Important UK Gambling Law – UK Gambling Act 2005
The UK Gambling Act of 2005 is important not only because it is the country’s latest gambling law, but also because it consolidates several existing laws on gambling. Also, it is the first law to address online gambling.
According to the provisions of the Gambling Act, the power to license gambling businesses shifted from the Magistrate’s Court to local authorities or licensing boards. It also led to the establishment of the UK Gambling Commission, the major regulatory authority in the UK. Plus, it threw open UK’s online gambling market to operators from different parts of the world.
The three aims of the Gambling Act of 2005 are:
- Keep UK’s gambling industry, land-based and online, free from crime
- Create a fair, safe, and secure gambling environment for UK players
- Protect children and other vulnerable social groups from gambling harm
When it was passed into law in 2005, the Gambling Act permitted offshore online gambling sites bearing a license from reputed gambling jurisdictions such as Alderney, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, and others to accept UK residents. But many UK-based gambling companies moved to offshore jurisdictions to avoid paying taxes to the UK government. As a result, the UK government amended the Gambling Act in 2014.
The amendments of 2014 make it mandatory for operators to obtain a license from the UKGC if they want to accept UK residents. Also, UK-licensed online gambling sites have to pay the government a 15% tax on their gambling profits. This not only created safer gambling environments for UK players but also generated extra revenue for the government.
UK Gambling Commission – UK’s Gambling Regulatory Authority
Established as per the provisions of the Gambling Act of 2005, the UK Gambling Commission performs the following tasks:
- Grant licenses to individuals and companies wishing to operate gambling machines, arcades, lottery games, betting, online & telephonic gambling, bingo, gambling software, and casinos in the UK.
- Regulate the National Lottery and award licenses to run lottery games.
- Establish requirements for licensees and conduct assessments to ensure compliance on the part of licensees.
- Take action against non-compliant individuals and operators.
- Make gambling safe for UK players.
The UKGC takes regulatory action against licensees who fail to comply with the country’s gambling regulations. Licensees who fail to cooperate with the regulatory authority and refuse to divulge the required information when asked for will have to undergo regulatory intervention from the UKGC. The authority has the power to initiate a criminal or regulatory investigation resulting in criminal charges or regulation sanctions against non-compliant licensees.
To perform its tasks efficiently, the UKGC collaborates with the HM Treasury, sports governing organizations, HMRC, law-enforcement agencies, industry trade associations, and local licensing authorities.
How the UKGC Regulates the Online Gambling Industry
All commercial online gambling businesses that have received a license from the UKGC as per the provisions of the Gambling Act have to comply with the UK’s online gambling laws and the UKGC’s codes of practice and license conditions.
To ensure compliance on the part of licensees, the UKGC combats all illegal online gambling activities. It also makes licensees and consumers aware of the latest amendments to gambling laws and sends regular communications to its licensees. Also, the regulatory authority advises the UK government based on the intelligence, evidence, and information it gathers.
To make sure that UK-licensed online casinos comply with the country’s gambling laws, the UKGC takes the following steps:
- Conduct regular visits and reviews
- Give license holders the required advice and guidance
- Take preventive or remedial actions
- Modify existing license conditions or impose additional ones to ensure best practices
- Review license holders’ financial data regularly
If a UK-licensed online casino operator fails to be compliant, the UKGC takes appropriate regulatory or legal action against the operator.
Do you feel that a particular UK-licensed online casino is violating the country’s gambling regulations? The UKGC encourages you to complain about it.
As a resident of the UK who loves playing at online casinos, you are free to voice your concerns about an online gambling site, the National Lottery, the Gambling Commission, or an ADR provider. Or you can also report to the UKGC about the way operators run their casino businesses.
Safer Gambling in the UK – How the UK Helps Problem Gamblers
If you visit the UKGC website, you will find the following support and information for gamblers:
Consumer Guides: The UKGC collaborates with the gambling industry to make sure that all gambling products and services are offered responsibly and that consumers understand them thoroughly. The UKGC has, therefore, created many informative consumer guides, which you can access by clicking here.
Player Protection Tools: Online casinos that have received a license from the UKGC have to offer the following player protection tools.
- Setting deposit and win/loss limits
- Time outs for 24 hours, one week, one month, or up to six weeks
- Self-exclusion for at least six months
GamStop: GamStop is a free self-exclusion service designed for UK casino players.
Help for Problem Gamblers: The UKGC website also lists non-profit organizations that provide free support for players experiencing gambling harm. If you or someone you know is a problem gambler, you can use the following services:
- Call 0808-8020-133, the national gambling free helpline. It is open 24 hours per day.
- Find information about problem gambling on the websites of GamCare and GambleAware.
- Gam-Anon offers free support to those affected by the actions of problem gamblers.
- Gamblers Anonymous is a fellowship of problem gamblers who meet and interact to overcome their problem. Call their national helpline 02073-843040.
- Use GamBlock to block online gambling sites on your computer.
- Gordon Moody Association provides treatment for gambling addicts. Call them at 01384-241292.
UK Online Gambling FAQs
What is the legal age for gambling at online casinos licensed in the UK?
You need to be at least 18 years old to register at a UK-licensed online casino. UK’s online gambling regulations require licensed casinos to conduct age verification checks to make sure that players are of the legal age to gamble.
Do I have to pay taxes on my casino winnings?
If you are a UK resident and win a prize at a UK-licensed online casino, you can keep it all. If you are a foreigner playing at a UK-licensed online casino, you may have to pay taxes to your government depending on the tax laws of your country.
Are bonus offers regulated in the UK?
UK-licensed online casinos are required to have clear and easy-to-understand terms and conditions. Also, they should have fair and reasonable wagering requirements.
Do mobile casinos need to have a license?
Yes, operators can offer online and mobile casinos to UK residents only after getting a license from the UKGC.
How can I know that an online or mobile casino is licensed in the UK?
All UK-licensed online casinos display the UKGC logo on their website footer. You can also visit the UKGC’s public register and find out if the online casino is listed there. Or you can contact the casino’s customer support and request the required licensing information.