UK Gambling Laws and Regulations
Gambling is an activity that has been part of British history for hundreds of years. There were times when gambling was made illegal, but these restrictions were only temporary. Today, gambling, including online gambling in the UK is completely legal. Of course, this doesn’t mean that any individual or organization can organize gambling casinos because this activity is regulated by the Gambling Commission. The commission was started in 2005 with the introduction of the new Gambling Act. The majority of gambling activities are regulated by this law. It is worth mentioning that just UK sites that are licensed and approved by the Gambling Commission can legally provide gaming and betting activities to the residents of the United Kingdom.
Of course, this field of law is changing all the time because the activity itself is changing too. For instance, three years ago, there was another law introduced in the UK known as the UK Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act. This law brought a few changes like an obligation for licensed and insured casino sites to report suspicious betting activities that might be related to sports match fixing.
Another important change included in this act was the new Point of Consumption Tax or POC. This is a 15% tax paid by online casinos. The POC represents 15% of the gross profit made by online gambling sites from the residents of UK. Even though this tax is respected, many of the popular companies in this industry are trying to make the government remove it. What is even more interesting is that a few companies have decided to move their business operations out of the UK because of this tax.
Online Gambling Regulations
Online gambling has been present in the United Kingdom since the middle of the 1990s. This is actually the time when the first online gambling sites in the world were introduced. So, we can freely say that the UK is one of the leaders when it comes to online casinos and gambling.
Ever since the introduction of this activity, the popularity of online gambling in the UK is growing rapidly. For instance, about seven years ago, the Gambling Commission conducted a survey which included 8,000 participants. About 11% of them have confirmed that they have used an online casino which is 1% more than the previous year. Of course, today, seven years later, this percentage is significantly higher due to the emergence of broadband Internet and mobile gaming.
As previously mentioned, every type of online gambling in the UK is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. So, organizing this type of activity and participating in it on a website that has such license is completely legal. There are no gray zones when it comes to UK gambling, be it offline or online. The official website of the Gambling Commission is the place where you can find details of licensed online casinos/gambling sites and the operators that are currently reviewed (applicants).
It is worth mentioning that many online casinos like William Hill and 888casino have offshore operations. The reason is simple – fewer taxes for both online casinos and online players.
The Gambling Act 2005
Even though the UK was one of the leaders in the gambling industry for many years, it took a while before the authorities have passed a law that regulates all the modern changes of this industry. Obviously, we are talking about the Gambling Act 2005. With this law, the UK got a modern gambling law. The Gambling Act 2005 provides clear instructions about the process to get a license as an official operator and pays special attention to the protection of every customer.
The reasons why there is a new licensing system for gambling businesses are explained in the beginning of this law. First of all, the intention is to keep gambling safe from disorder and crime or making it a source of such behavior and activities. Next, another goal of this new licensing system was to make sure that gambling is performed in a fair manner. Finally, this new system was introduced to keep children and vulnerable individuals safe from gambling exploitation.
So, every operator that wants to work in the UK must provide evidence that for their financial stability and confirm that they are able to keep a stable financial position and provide far games to every player. The Gambling Act 2005 introduced the Gambling Commission as the highest authority for licensing and monitoring gambling sites.
Another thing that is worth mentioning is that this act allowed online casinos and gambling sites to advertise their offers in the UK. This was illegal in the past. You have probably noticed that popular online casinos are advertising on sports events and they are even displayed on team shirts too. Foreigners and organizations without a license issued by the Gambling Commission are not allowed to advertise their offers to UK customers.
Even though we are mostly focused on online gambling activities, it is worth mentioning land-based gaming and traditional casinos too. There is no doubt that this kind of activities is legal in the UK too. So, if you sometimes feel in the mood to go outside and visit a classic casino in the UK, don’t hesitate to do this.
For instance, you can visit high street bookmakers where you can participate not only in ordinary betting but in live betting too. These facilities are modernized and have many interesting bets in their offer. Next, you can also visit one of the many (more than 50) racecourses in the UK. This type of betting is has a long history in the United Kingdom. In addition to Bingo Halls, the UK has over 140 traditional, land-based casinos too. It is interesting that you can find them across the UK not just in London and other major cities.
If you are a resident of the UK, you should feel free to enjoy a game of poker, baccarat, blackjack or roulette or use a slot machine or some other casino game online. As long as you are using a licensed online casino, you will stay on the safe side of the law.