UK Online Gambling Laws

Gambling has a long history in the UK. Sports wagering, bingo and lotteries represent the most popular forms of gambling throughout the 20th century in the UK. The advent of the Internet has created a whole new form of gambling where UK residents are able to use both UK and foreign based gambling services. The precise online gambling stipulations were initially regulated by several outdated pieces of legislature up until 2005 when the UK established a new gambling act that identified all forms of online gambling to be legal. The past and present legislatures have all identified online gambling as entirely legal for UK residents.

Initial UK Gambling Laws

The UK initially used the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1963 as the primary legislation for all forms of gambling. The act outlined clear definitions for a bet, a lottery and a game of chance. The act provided a legal structure for both UK gambling service operators and UK gamblers to adhere to. Eventually, many portions of the act were repealed and replaced by individual acts concerning lotteries and gaming.

The first notion of Internet based gambling from offshore gambling services was covered under the Betting and Gaming Duties Act of 1981. The act covered restrictions on the ability to conduct and advertise an offshore gambling service in the UK. As gambling sites began to proliferate, they were mostly deemed legal in the UK even though there was no specific gambling law to explain the legality of online gambling.

Gambling Act of 2005

Past gambling rules and regulations gave way to the all-encompassing Gambling Act of 2005. The act represents the UK’s concerted effort to capture the issue of legality on all forms of gambling – including all known online formats. Under the Gambling Act of 2005, it is entirely legal to participate in online gambling as a UK resident. The act contains no specific stipulations that prohibit residents from gambling on the Internet. This effectively means that any person visiting or residing in the UK can participate at online casinos, poker rooms, bingo sites, sportsbooks and lottery sites.

The Gambling Act of 2005 was created by taking into account the European Union’s consensus that the UIGEA regulations adopted by the US government hindered free trade agreements between the European Union and the US. In accordance with the European Union’s pro-gambling stance, the UK Gambling Act of 2005 makes it legal to gamble as well as establish a gambling service for charitable or profitable purposes.

The Gambling Act of 2005 also established the Gambling Commission, which is the official UK commission that is responsible for regulating all commercial gambling. The Gambling Commission oversees all sectors of gambling including arcades, betting, bingo, casino, lotteries, gaming machines, gambling software and all forms of remote gambling services.

Regulations on Gambling Service Providers

The primary purpose of the Gambling Commission is to ensure the safety of gamblers online by regulating any UK based gambling service as well as any gambling service that uses a piece of remote gambling equipment on UK soil. Remote gambling equipment refers to any piece of equipment that is used by offshore gambling companies to provide their online services to UK residents. This means that any gambling service that has registered property on UK soil (such as servers for Internet connection) is required to abide by the Gambling Commission.

The Gambling Commission is very open to UK residents establishing their own gambling service and also offers licenses for offshore services. Any gambling service that operates outside of the UK but accepts residents from the UK must have a valid license from the Gambling Commission. The Gambling Act of 2005 allows the Gambling Commission to keep an eye on any gambling services that intend to engage in illegal activity at the expense of UK gamblers. For example, the Gambling Commission encourages offshore gambling services to establish offices on UK soil because it allows the commission to more effectively regulate fraud and money laundering. When it comes to dealing with illegal activity, the Gambling Commission has the ability to permanently revoke licenses, impose fines and initiate criminal proceedings through the court of law.

As one would expect, the Gambling Commission also regulates all live gambling locales. They maintain a large selection of specific licenses for different types of gambling service operators and hired professionals. Each license adheres to a specific set of regulations. The only sector of UK gambling that the Gambling Commission does not control is the UK’s national lottery.

Ultimately, all known forms of online gambling are completely legal for UK residents. The Gambling Act of 2005 contains no legislation prohibiting any specific type of online gambling. The act focuses primarily on regulating fair and safe online gambling by strictly monitoring and regulating all gambling companies that provide their services to the UK. The act is one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislature that properly includes the legality of all online gambling formats and focuses on providing UK residents with the opportunity to participate in their favorite forms of online gambling.