Casino Gambling Laws in the UK in 2019
In the UK, the casino industry is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission, which is part of the government Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It was established under the Gambling Act 2005 by the then-Labour government.
The Gambling Act of 2005 was introduced to control and regulate all forms of gambling in the UK. It sought to bring up to date the country’s rather outdated gambling legislation. It also aimed to deal with the evolution of new internet gambling sites that were beginning to appear.
A new Gambling Commission was set up at the same time as the regulatory body, to issue licenses to online betting companies and monitor their compliance with relevant laws. This was the first time remote operators had been subject to regulations in the United Kingdom.
Figures from the commission show that from April 2013 to March 2014 the British gambling industry (excluding the National Lottery) generated a gross yield of £6.8bn, an increase of 6% on the previous year. The remote betting sector (including slots and online casinos in the UK) accounted for 17% of the revenue during that period, and has increased in value for each of the last five years that the commission has published figures.
The total gross gambling yield (GGY) of the Great Britain gambling industry between April 2016 and March 2017 was £13.8bn. But despite the new licensing laws, online gambling rose 10% to £4.7bn from 2016-17.
More recently, the UK government has introduced the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014. In day-to-day terms, online casino UK players aren’t affected. However, it does mean that any casino or software provider wanting to supply the UK must have a UK Gambling Commission license. This comes in addition to any existing license a provider may hold overseas.
How UK Players Are Protected
Any details you supply to a casino, including bank details, are confidential and are securely encrypted to protect against hacking. It is your responsibility to ensure that any details you provide are accurate, and anyone providing false information could have winnings withheld and even face prosecution.
To ensure your own safety, the Gambling Commission provides information on what to look out for. The first thing to do is check that the operator is fully licensed by the Commission. Licensed operators must also provide information on how to gamble safely. Under UK Gambling Commission rules, players‘ funds are segregated away from operating costs. This safeguards the player in the case of fraud or liquidation. It’s not a uniform practice across all gambling jurisdictions.
A robust complaints procedure and measures to protect young and vulnerable people should also be in place. At online casinos, UK customers must be given information on gambling responsibly and be supplied with tools to help customers control their betting.
Finally, the Gambling Commission supplies an Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider in the case of any serious disagreements between the customer and the website.
In 2018, a new ruling on online casino UK bonuses was made. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is cracking down on online gambling companies who make vague promotion promises. It may also become easier for gamblers to clear deposit bonuses.
Popular Casino Games for UK Players
At most online casinos, UK based players have a choice of hundreds of top games. Gamblers can pick from classic slots or the latest 3D animated brand tie-ins. There are also dozens of progressive jackpot games with the potential to win six and seven-figure prizes. As we’ve mentioned, unlicensed games are generally NOT available at UK-facing online casinos.
According to recent Gambling Commission stats for 2016-17, online casino betting accounted for nearly half of all remote gaming in the UK. Far and away, online slots accounted for most of the casinos‘ turnover, with table games a distant second.
Typically at online casinos, UK gamblers can access many games not found in land-based casinos. Variants like American and French Roulette, Craps, and Caribbean Hold’em are not common to the smaller UK offline casinos. The minimum stakes at UK-facing online casinos are generally a lot smaller than those found in land-based casinos.
Live Betting and UK Casinos
The UK boasts 146 land-based casinos, with the Rank Group (Grosvenor Casinos) easily the largest chain in operation. Genting UK and smaller operators like Aspers also offer an increasingly Vegas-style gambling experience. Membership is not always needed at UK offline casinos, and the days of 48-hour membership waits are long gone. As with online casinos, UK players in land-based establishments tend to slot machines including large-payout Vegas-style terminals. Electronic roulette is also popular, as are table roulette and punto banco.
While England, Wales and Scotland all feature a spread of casinos, land-based casinos are still outlawed in Northern Ireland.
Away from casinos, online and offline bingo remains popular. Many established chains run land-based bingo halls up and down the country. Some have migrated online with betting sites of their own. Internet slots can be played at most online bingo rooms too. It is currently legal to play slot machines (fruit machines) in pubs, clubs, and amusement arcades with adult supervision. As of 2017, there are just over 182,000 physical gaming machines in the UK.
Though controversial, UK gamblers can access popular casino games and slots via Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in high street bookmakers across the country. There has been a hard campaign to limit the maximum stakes available on FOBTs. However, for casual gamblers they provide a quick and easy way to enjoy a spin of roulette or slots machines without entering a casino.
Taxes and Online Sites
After a change in law under the Labour government of Tony Blair, duty on betting winnings was scrapped. Likewise with online casinos, UK residents are subject to no tax on their prizes. The UK doesn’t operate a windfall tax on large lottery wins, either, as in some other countries.
However, in some circumstances, gambling winnings may be subject to tax if gambling provides the main source of income. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has a more detailed breakdown of how personal income is taxed in the United Kingdom.
Best Deposit Methods for UK Casino Gamblers
UK players have a broad range of gambling banking options to hand. Licensed real money online casinos easily accept payments via debit and credit cards, plus a good spread of e-Wallets and prepaid vouchers. Bank transfers offer a secure way of moving cash to and from a casino site.
Licensed UK casinos must have the right security in place to protect transactions. Transfers of cash should be encrypted and player funds – by the rules of the UK license – should be segregated from operating costs.
UK casino players can transfer in GBP, though most good casinos also offer USD and EUR as standard.
UK bank debit cards like Maestro, VISA Electron, and Solo are perfect ways for British-based gamblers to get their casino funds in and out. As long as the online casino is properly licensed, players shouldn’t have issues moving real money direct from their bank accounts.
The beauty of debit cards is that they generally carry low minimum limits and no fees. And UK customers can enjoy their bank’s trusted encryption when sending money across the web.
With millions of customers worldwide, it’s no wonder MasterCard is one of the most trusted credit card payment solutionsused today. All legal UK casinos online will accept at least one credit card provider. British gamblers can avoid the declined payments experienced in other countries like the USA.
While it’s legal for UK casino customers to use VISA and MasterCard, players have to be prepared for fees. A 2.5-3% charge on top of any real-cash deposit is fairly standard.
e-Wallets have been accepting UK online casino payments since their inception. Leading e-Wallet operators like PayPal allow anonymous and safe transactions via a third-party processor. Payments are instant, and casinos generally won’t charge. However, the e-Wallets will charge a fee if sending cash back to a bank account or overseas.