We Ranked Top Online Bookies and Casinos in the UK.
The United Kingdom has a long tradition of legal gambling. Housie and chemmy once enjoyed immense popularity, and it was common to see people getting dressed in their finest for a night out at a bingo club.
Of course, there have been sweeping changes over the years, with modern gaming establishments and operators emphasizing convenience over elegance. The advent of online gambling in the UK also presents a unique set of difficulties, as the European nation is a coveted prize for most Internet gaming operators.
- Safe, secure and regulated UK gambling websites.
- Top-quality odds and excellent game selection.
- More entertainment than you’ll know what to do with.
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Is it Legal to Gamble Online in the UK?
In our opinion – although we’re not lawyers and this information is only for entertainment purposes – online gambling is legal within the United Kingdom. Players should feel free to sign-up with any casino, sportsbook, or card room that’s willing to accept their business, and they can do so without fear of government prosecution.
The Gambling Act 2005
Passed into law by the UK Parliament, this significant piece of legislation was meant to extend to all forms of gambling. The Gambling Commission was brought into existence, and the ability to license different types of gambling was taken away from the magistrates’ courts.
This was also the first law to attempt to regulate online gambling in the UK. The newly-created Gambling Commission was given the responsibility of licensing and overseeing Internet gaming operations, as well as levying fines and possibly revoking licenses. Whitelisted jurisdictions such as the Isle of Man were initially exempted from having to obtain a license.
Remote gambling was also defined. According to the legislation, it involves any form of gambling where the participant uses a remote form of communication such as radio, television, telephone, or the Internet.
Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Act 2014
The legislation was meant to compliment the 2005 Gambling Act. One of the most notable changes was that all online gambling services with equipment or remote gambling facilities in the UK would be required to obtain a license (even those on the former white list). A 15% tax on the gross profits of wagers placed in the UK was also added, a move that caused several virtual casinos to abandon the market or launch court cases.
The other major area of the legislation involved gambling advertising. Under the new rules, a site can only advertise their services to residents of the UK if they’re licensed by the Gambling Commission. Children (15 and under) and young people (16 or 17) are prohibited from appearing in gambling-related marketing materials, and those 18 to 24 may only play a significant role in material displayed at locations where betting takes place.
In the case of advertising for free bets and bonuses, casinos are required to be forthcoming about elements such as withdrawal and wagering requirements. Even in the case of a tiny pop-up banner, these details must be no more than one click away and clearly labeled as such.
Most Popular Forms of Online Gambling in the UK
The Gambling Commission conducts a survey four times a year, asking questions about gaming habits to 4,000 individuals who are representative of the country’s various demographics. In the following list, we’ll look at the popularity of games among those who claim to wager one day per month.
- In-person casino games – 50%
- Online lottery – 48%
- Scratchcards – 44%
- Online spread betting – 41%
- Poker at pub or card room – 40%
- In-person lottery – 39%
- Online casino games – 37%
- Virtual gaming machine at a bookmaker – 37%
- Slot machines – 35%
- Online football pools – 33%
- Virtual dog or horse racing online – 33%
- Online slot machines and instant wins – 31%
- Online bingo – 30%
- Online National Lottery draws – 28%
- Private betting – 28%
- In-person bingo – 28%
- In-person National Lottery draws – 25%
- in-person spread betting – 25%
- In-person football pools – 24%
- Virtual dog or horse racing at a land-based location – 6%
The popularity of various forms of gambling in the United Kingdom varies depending on how many times the subject wagers per month. While the numbers above represent casual players, they look quite different for those who gamble once per week. In this case, in-person spread betting and football pools are the most popular, while online wagering on virtual dog and horse racing is third. An online lottery other than the state-run contest was second on the above list, but it falls to 12th among more serious punters.
When the focus shifts to those who gamble at least two times a week, the results are once again different. Online casino games are tied for the top spot with land-based wagering on virtual animal racing, while online spread betting beats the in-person version 23% to 13%. Other Internet gaming options to make the top 10 include bingo, football pools, and slots.
If you’re wondering what these percentages mean in terms of real-world numbers, let’s use online sports betting as an example: the total number of Internet bettors in the UK is more than 2.1 million, and those who wager on sporting events are estimated to generate more than 650 million pounds in annual revenue for virtual bookmakers.
Gamblers in the United Kingdom
In addition to the research presented above, the Gambling Commission also conducts several studies each year to determine who’s gambling across the nation. Participants are asked if they’ve gambled in the previous month, and the data is compiled to determine results for the calendar year.
The following percentages were based on 2013 research:
- 55% of participants admitted to gambling at least once during the year.
- 60% of males admitted to gambling during the year.
- 50% of females participants confirmed that they had gambled during the year.
- 46% of participants aged 18 to 24 had gambled.
The first percentage in the above list is especially telling, as it indicates that more than half the population of the United Kingdom engages in some form of gambling during the year. While this pales to the obsessive level of devotion shown by Australians, it still marks the UK as a country that loves its games of chance.