Online Casino Regulation in the United Kingdom

 The UK Gambling Commission is the main regulator of all gambling activities within this jurisdiction. It falls under the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. This authority was created in line with the Gambling Act 2005. It’s this Gambling Act that updated all the gambling laws in the UK to their current status. All online gambling activities including online casinos fall under this Act.

Gambling is not recent in the UK and dates back to 1539 as the earliest time recorded. Many Brits enjoy it as a favorite pastime. Unlike other European countries, in the UK there is no monopoly. Outside operators are permitted to set up in the UK provided they meet licensing requirements. There are many forms of gambling available to keep players active such as sports betting, land-based and online casinos, bingo, Lotteries, Scratch Cards, and Amusement arcades.

Under the Gambling Act 2005, participating in the lottery, betting or gaming falls under gambling in the UK. All that fall under these categories should be licensed to operate legally in the country.


Facts and Figures on Gambling in the United Kingdom

  • The UK Gambling Commission has 355 employees. A total of 107,940 people are employed in the gambling industry.
  • The official National Lottery generated $1.62 billion in the year 2018-2019. Since its inception in 1994, this lottery has contributed $40 billion to good causes.
  • The number of gamblers in 2018-2019 was 24 million adults. 10.5 million are the ones who gamble online. Around 44% of online gamblers do on their mobile devices.
  • Total GGY from gambling in the UK for the year 2018-2019 was $14.4 billion. The contribution of online gambling to this was $5.3 billion.
  • 6% gamblers reported as self-excluded in the UK in the year 2018-2019. 340,000 adults are problem gamblers. 1.2 million Adults stand the risk of becoming problem gamblers. 55000 adults are classified as moderate-risk gamblers.
  • In the gambling industry, betting shops number to 8423, casinos are 152, bingo premises are 650, gaming machines are 181813, and arcades are 1639.

Annual Report and Accounts


The Gaming Act 2005

The Gaming Act 2005 applies to both land-based and online operators providing gambling activities in the United Kingdom. The main aim of the Act is to describe and provide direction of how the industry must function within the jurisdiction. It sets out to prevent gambling from being a promoter of criminal activities or general disorder. All licensed gambling operators must not associate with criminal activities of any kind or support crime in the UK. Every operator should run a fair, safe, and secure operation that minds the players registered. No establishment or online platform should bring harm to children or vulnerable persons.

Gaming in the UK (England and Wales) overview

The UK Gambling Commission is charged with the mandate to oversee the implementation of the Gaming Act. Any operator found in violation is fined, penalized, or might have their license revoked. Operators that meet the objectives of this act shall get appropriate licenses to operate in the country.

An amendment to the Act in 2011 saw offshore companies get more chances to compete in the UK gambling market. They, however, needed a local license as required both in the UK and in the European Economic Area. To better the online platforms that local Brits have access to, in 2015 the Act had more amendments. It now requires all operators licensed in the UK to source software from licensed developers. This includes games provided online by casinos and other gambling sites.

Gambling products regulated under the Gaming Act are Arcades, Betting, Bingo, Casinos, Gaming Machines, Gambling Software, Lotteries, and Online Gambling.

Read also: Gambling Legislation in the EU.


Amusement arcades are quite popular in the UK. By law, they are split into three categories:

  • Family entertainment centers that are licensed
  • Family entertainment centers that aren’t licensed
  • Gaming centers for Adults only

These three categories are permitted to provide gaming machines under set specifications. Adult gaming centers are for only those above the age of 18.


Bingo is another enjoyed gambling activity in the UK and doesn’t have specific rules. It’s played virtually the same across the country by many gamblers. There is a provision by the UK Gambling Commission on what gambling is and who can play it.

Read also: Overview of Online Gambling Licensing and Regulation in France.


Bets are placed on various platforms to predict the outcome of a certain event. You can also perform the same to determine if something shall happen or not. A bet can also be placed to determine if something is truthful or not.

Betting in the United Kingdom is divided into several sub-categories that operators must keep in mind:

  • Fixed Odds Betting involving real events
  • Events based on a Random number generator
  • Peer to peer betting
  • Fantasy football type of pool betting



In a casino, you can play or more casino games as per your preference. This applies to both land-based and online casinos that more people frequent today. A land-based casino must acquire a premises license on top of an operational one. This is in accordance with the Gaming Act 2005 and there is a set standard for small and large casino premises. Each physical casino needs to adhere to them to get a license.

With a casino license, the operator has no limit to the number of games provided on the premise or online platform. Automated table games are allowed as well.

Read also: Overview of Online Gambling Licensing and Regulation in Austria.

Gambling Software

Gambling software is mainly used in online gambling. All gambling software must be sourced only from licensed developers. Failure to adhere to this is seen as committing an offense under the Gaming Act.

Gaming Machines

Gaming machines in the United Kingdom cover many gambling activities that can take place on a machine. Individuals use this machine to gamble as per its design and adaptation.


Lotteries in the UK are not commercial and must be simple in characterization. There are many types of lotteries in the country including society, private, and the National Lottery.


Online Gambling & Online Casinos

Any operator wishing to provide online gambling services in the UK needs to acquire the right license. The only accepted way to apply is online by submitting the application tom Gambling Commission System. The requirements for these online platforms are the same as their physical counterparts with a few exceptions. All online companies must fully disclose their revenue and any further activity across the world.

Performance report

More restrictions befall online gambling operators to further safeguard the local gamblers within the United Kingdom. These restrictions involve funds for clients, audits, licensed status displays, and tools for gambling. Online gambling in the UK involves both mobile and computer gambling with mobile being popular.

Even with issuing of licenses to international operators, there are still those online like casinos that operate illegally. The national government is considering adding further restrictions to block these activities. These online casinos are not safe and many gamblers end up losing their money.

Currently, there is little legislation involving blockchain technology and Cryptocurrency. This is an area the commission is currently taking into consideration and might effect changes in the future.


Problem Gambling Help in the United Kingdom

  1. How to stop gambling?
  2. How to quit gambling? Gambling Addiction Treatment:
  3. Help for problem gambling (Gambling Commission):

GAMSTOP lets you put controls in place to restrict your online gambling activities.



The United Kingdom is one of the most versatile when it comes to gambling that has been in existence for centuries. The UK Gambling Commission oversees the industry and ensures all operators in it are licensed. Each operator must meet set requirements to get permission to operate within this jurisdiction.

Read also: Gambling Regulation and Licensing in the Netherlands: Facts & Figures.