Players from the United Kingdom can look forward to numerous online casinos. These websites are safe, secure, full of exciting games, and fully licensed. This combination has helped gaming websites and operators explode in popularity over the years. However, it was not always this way. Gambling in the UK had a rocky road before reaching its stage today. It has gone through different laws and regulations. Today, we will go through the various stages of UK regulation and how it affects players today.
Best UK Casinos 2024
The United Kingdom is home to a large and wealthy player population. Because of that, casino members can play on numerous UK-friendly websites. Picking out the best ones from such a vast selection of websites is not easy. We have listed below our current picks for Best 10 UK casinos. See that all of them, including some new names, come from reputable and established groups.
UK Gambling Laws & Regulations
Modern UK gambling laws came into existence with the country passing the Gambling Act of 2005. The act governs both brick-and-mortar and online gambling across several venues. The UK allows gambling on arcades, casinos, gaming machines, bingo, sports betting, and lotteries. Each game type has slightly different rules that apply to it, which makes sense. Different types of gambling should have their differences respected. In this article, we will keep our focus on casino games.
Both real-world and online casinos are legal according to UK gambling laws. However, not all online casinos are available to casino members in the United Kingdom. Approved operators must have a license issued by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission or UKGC for short. The UKGC’s rules are in place to protect players and ensure casinos handle gambling fairly.
The new licensing system brought in by the Gambling Act of 2005 sets forward three priorities. First, to prevent gambling from being a source of disorder or a crime. That means giving players a legal way to enjoy their hobby while giving them ways to control their gambling. The second priority is to protect children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling. The third priority is to ensure casinos conduct all gambling fairly.
These priorities remained active as the UKGC continued to iterate on its implemented rules. One of the most significant changes came in 2019. Before that point, online casinos had to verify the player’s age within 72 hours of registration. However, the Gambling Commission pointed out minors could still enjoy online gambling during that time. As such, the rules now force UK-based operators to verify your age before you can bet or make a deposit on their platform.
UKGC guidelines also prevent promising big wins or life-changing payouts to market to players. While you can recognize a title has considerable winning potential, you cannot sell it as a sure thing. The regulator also does not allow turbo spins or auto spins of any kind. The same is true for bonus buy features. Casino members in the UK cannot skip directly to a bonus round by paying more than usual.
Too Much Regulation?
On their own, every adjustment and change to the UKGC guidelines and rules make sense. However, too much regulation can be just as damaging for a market as no regulation at all. A recent report by the Betting and Gaming Council found offshore gambling across Europe is on the rise. In their press release, the BGC noticed the number of British iGaming bettors using unlicensed websites increased dramatically over the years. Per the report, that number includes around 460,000 players and billions of pounds.
This is not a British only problem, though the UKGC’s increasing regulation has left its mark. BGC’s CEO, Michael Dugher, warned enormous scope changes of the current UK iGaming scene could prompt black market growth. Shrinking the regulated market could mean a potential loss of 120,000 jobs in the country’s gambling industry. Not to mention the loss of £4.5 billion worth of taxes the industry pays each year.
Responsible Gambling in the UK
One of the advantages a regulated market brings is the funding to fight against problematic gambling. The UKGC’s website has an entire section devoted to responsible gambling. There, players can find information about playing responsibly in licensed online casinos using online gambling management tools.
The responsible gaming page’s most important feature is teaching you how to control your gambling activities. The regulator already demands that online casinos give players tools to limit their playtime if not wholly restrict it. Teaching players to use tools to limit playtime or to self exclude is essential in ensuring casino members stay safe.
It also teaches players how to stay safe from scams and frauds. You can learn how to identify licensed online casinos and how to verify your information in one. The page also has guides on various elements of the online gambling industry. Helpful for new players just getting started.
History of Gambling in the UK
Most of the UK’s history saw gambling being illegal in one way or another. However, this changed in the 16th century when the government passed the Unlawful Games Act of 1541. The act effectively made all gambling illegal due to worries games interfered with military training. Additional acts throughout the years focused on financial securities, illegal lotteries, and other popular gambling games.
In 1845, the British Parliament legalized games of skill. The act simplified gambling regulation and made gambling contracts legally unenforceable. During this time, betting establishments became popular in the UK, despite additional laws suppressing them. From 1906 onwards, the government would start legalizing more gambling acts.
The popularity of horse racing helped lead to their regulation in the Racecourse Betting Act of 1928. The Betting and Lotteries Act of 1934 allowed wagering on greyhound races six years later. Football pools were next to be legalized. In 1960, the country made private casinos legal through the Betting and Gaming Act. This would be the last major update to the law until the government adopted the current, modern framework in 2005.