Gambling in the UK
Other countries in Europe are changing and adapting their gambling rules, but at a slower rate than the UK. [ ]

The gambling market has grown rapidly in the last few years – both online and off. Some countries moved quickly to implement regulations that keep patrons and companies safe. The UK is one of those countries. 

The UK has been modifying and adapting its gambling laws to meet the needs of its residents and the industry in general. So what makes the UK different? And how can they capitalise on it in the coming years? 

Why UK reigns supreme in gambling

The UK played smart when it came to their gambling legislation. They have a simplified approach to gambling. The rules are the same for in-person and online gambling. The Gambling Act, which was revised and amended in 2014, keeps it simple. 

The massive growth of the UK gambling market has been attributed to increased online gambling, also referred to as remote gambling. The UK has been forward-thinking, inclusive and supportive of the industry. As such, they have seen a healthy taxable income. 

UK gambling timeline

The UK gambling scene has transformed and adapted to the requirements of patrons. 

  • The middle ages were home to dice games with money as wagers.
  • Earliest recorded legislation for gambling was in 1190, a limit to daily wager limits and who could gamble was decreed by the king.
  • The first government-sanctioned lottery was in 1694 and was used to raise funds.
  • The Gaming Act of 1984 allowed commercial casinos.
  • The Gambling Act 2005 ensured that gambling was legal, and set rules for age and vulnerable person to be excluded.
  • In 2014 the Gambling Act was revised to incorporate fair play and responsible gaming. It also implemented a gambling duty of 15% of gross profits from UK residents. 
  • In 2018 the UK placed tighter regulations online gambling to protect patrons from overspending and playing too many hours. 

Online gambling is taken into account, and the same rules apply both online and offline. 

The UK implemented and revised its gambling rules alongside the growth of technology, and therefore maximised the protection for customers at the same time. In order to keep the top spot, sticking to their previous adaptations and moving with the demands of the people, and the new technology is a must.


As gambling grew more popular online, the UK government had to adapt rules and regulations to protect UK citizens when playing these games.

Are there benefits to legalised gambling?

There are benefits to legalising all types of gambling: in-person gambling, online bingo, and even mobile phone applications. When something becomes regulated by state and federal laws, it becomes safer. In the case of gambling, regulations keep the patrons safe – and less likely to be the victim of fraud or theft.

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Gambling also brings a substantial financial boost to the economy. The tax earnings on a casino are significant. When those games get pushed underground – so does the income stream.  The UK has a more relaxed approach to gambling and prospers from the right to tax the income. The UK gambling market is worth £14.3 billion annually. Online gambling contributes 38.6% to that total. 

Most popular online gambling games

Online gambling is welcoming to new players and those who are experienced too. The games are designed to be easy to follow and quick to start. 

Online Blackjack, also known as 21, is one of the most popular games. It is simple to understand and has an element of skill to it. You can get some fantastic deals on free play while you learn to play. 

The game most picked by mobile phone players is online slots, as they are quick and fun. There are thousands of slots to choose from, and they all come with different themes and great bonuses. Slots account for 69.3% of the overall market in the UK and are one of the most popular casino games.

Online bingo has been a staple of the online gambling world since it’s inception. People can choose from regular bingo, 60 ball, speed bingo, and different themes too. 

With regards to online sports betting, football is the most popular sports, with many placing a bet on matches weekly. Not far behind football is horse racing, a sport that has been betted on in the UK for years. 

Football is one of the most popular sports in the UK and is also the sport which has most sports bets placed online.

Why is online gambling so popular in the UK?

Online gambling increased in popularity in recent years as more people had access to smartphones, high-speed internet, tablets and laptops. Where once you might’ve headed out to the bingo hall, or tried to find a casino, online gambling is faster and much more convenient. 

Variety: A single brick and mortar can’t account for everyone’s tastes when it comes to playing their games. There are so many online options to please everyone. A quick search online will open up a world of hundreds of variants of your favourite games. 

Cost: Opening an app, or a website takes no time at all. You don’t have the cost of travel, paying for food and drink or all those little extra side games when you play online. You are also more likely to be given multiple different offers that reduce the cost of your play. 

Increased win potential: Since online gambling merchants have less overhead costs that a real-life casino has, they put that excess cash back into the potential winnings. You can check the RTP, or payout information on the website that you are playing on. 

Will others follow the UK lead?

Other countries in Europe are changing and adapting their gambling rules, but at a slower rate than the UK. Further west, the USA has more fluctuation within its regulations, and currently only several states have legalised online gambling as well as offline gambling.

Having a simplified set of legislation covering both online gambling and in-person gambling keeps the patrons and the industry safe.  In order for each country to maximise the safety, and possible taxable income, moving with the time and matching the UK’s approach is a must. 

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