UK Online Poker Laws

In recent years, the question of the legality of online poker has been a hot topic of debate among poker players and lawmakers alike. Many lawmakers in the US, UK and elsewhere have attempted to pass laws that make online gambling illegal. Some lawmakers even try to include online poker among the umbrella of online gambling, citing it as purely a game of chance. Of course, as any poker player understands, poker is a game of skill with elements of chance involved. Poker advocacy groups have successfully used this argument to stave off most online poker legislation.

Although the legality of online poker is often quite nebulous in the United States, legislation regarding UK online poker laws is somewhat more cut and dried. The simplest answer is that online poker is completely legal in the UK. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to find even a single online poker site that does not accept customers from the UK.

Gambling Act 2005

In order to gain a full understanding of UK online poker laws, it’s important to be aware of the Gambling Act 2005, otherwise known simply as The Act. The Gambling Act 2005, which was drawn up in 2005 and actually entered into action in 2007, replaces the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1963, as well as the Gaming Act of 1968, and finally the Lotteries and Amusements Act of 1976. The purpose of the new Gambling Act 2005 is to provide regulation for both online and offline gambling within a single act, the former of which was not covered by any of the previous acts.

The Gambling Act 2005 covers every form of gambling in the UK except for spread betting and the National Lottery, meaning that all other activities, including gaming machines, casinos, other lotteries and poker are covered under The Act.

What the Gambling Act 2005 Means for Poker Players

The short answer to the question of how the Gambling Act 2005 affects online poker players is quite simple: very little. Rather than cracking down on online poker players and online gamblers, the true purpose of the Gambling Act 2005 is to protect poker players by regulating online poker establishments. Under the Gambling Act 2005, any gambling operator (including online poker sites) must provide accurate and transparent terms and conditions to their players in clear, easily intelligible language. These terms and conditions must specify the nature of the site, and make it clear that the site is indeed intended for real money gambling purposes.

Another purpose of the Gambling Act 2005 is to ensure that all online gambling and online poker institutions are fully and officially licensed. All online poker rooms in the UK must be licensed, regardless of whether they began operation before or after the passing of the Gambling Act 2005. This means that older poker providers must comply with The Act and acquire licensing if they wish to continue operating as a poker provider. Three separate licenses are available: an operating license, a personal license, and a premises license. The appropriate license necessary for all UK online poker providers is the operating license. UK online poker laws dictate that all online poker providers apply for an receive an operating license if they wish to offer real money play of any kind.

The Gambling Act 2005 and Poker Advertising

Another section of the Gambling Act 2005 deals with online poker advertising. Under The Act, it is illegal to advertise and/or promote foreign or unlawful gambling on the Internet or elsewhere. For example, it would be illegal according to UK online poker laws to advertise an online poker site that has not received the proper licensing in accordance with the Gambling Act 2005. This is designed to prevent the promotion and growth of illegal poker sites, and to ensure that customers are not tricked into playing at an online gambling establishment that has questionable playing practices.

Overall Legality of Online Poker in the UK

The state of UK online poker laws is very advantageous to online poker players, partially because of the strict regulations placed on UK online poker providers. The Gambling Act 2005 ensures that all online poker sites receive proper licensing, and to receive this licensing they must comply with several rules and regulations. This allows UK online poker players to feel confident when signing up for any legal UK poker provider.

As a UK poker player, you can be comfortable playing at online poker sites without any fear of legal ramifications. If anything, UK online poker laws are designed to crack down on and regulate the poker providers themselves. The laws are not designed to interfere with online poker players. As mentioned previously, virtually every online poker site offers real money play to UK customers. The fact that UK online poker laws are so kind to players is a large reason for this.