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Gambling has been a favoured pastime of the British for years now, and the popularity of online and in-person betting continues to grow. Online gambling accounts for 35% of all betting activities in the UK today, a percentage that continues to grow. Unlike other countries such as the United States, online gambling is legal, and the government has passed simple, yet effective laws designed to regulate the quality of online betting sites, as well as ensure the safety of users. Online betting services that are licensed in the UK are regarded highly internationally, with over half of the profits made from the British online gambling industry coming from overseas.
Interesting Facts about Betting in the UK
- 48% of the population of the United Kingdom admit to gambling in some form
- Men are more likely to gamble than women, with 53% of men admitting to gambling at least once in their life, but only 44% of women
- People aged 24-35 are the largest demographic of punters who are gambling online
- The three most popular forms of gambling are bingo betting, casino betting, and sports betting
- Betting has existed in the United Kingdom for centuries, with the first bookmaker opening its doors in the 1790s
- The gambling industry generates over £13 billion annually
- Online gambling accounts for 35% of all gambling in the UK
Gambling Legislation and Laws
Legislation surrounding gambling had existed since 1960 when the Betting and Gambling Act legalized the existence of bingo halls. Further legislation in 1961 allowed for betting shops to open up and offer their services legally, which was edited in 1968 to include the legalization of casinos. More recently, the Gambling Act of 2005, which is updated legislation to include all forms of online gambling as well.
Gambling in the UK is regulated mostly by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). Laws surrounding gambling fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of strictness – they are not as harsh as some other European nations, but they are also not as lenient as others.
The UKGC only offers licenses to companies that are registered here in the UK. Companies that are registered offshore may be “whitelisted” and they may be able to offer their services to the British market, but they will not be able to obtain a license. If these companies are licensed by other authorities with regulations equal to those of the UKGC, they are allowed to offer their services to a British audience without needing a license from the UKGC.
Competition between Operators
There are many different operators that offer their services to the UK market, and none have managed to corner the market into a monopoly completely. At the moment, over 800 companies have licenses to offer their services online. Even though some betting companies have been around for centuries, it is still possible for new companies to find their footing in the market. For now, both online and physically, there is a vast range of options for punters, creating the competition necessary to provide greater services constantly.
Bonuses from British Bookmakers
Players from the UK are eligible for many different bonuses and promotions when they sign up to various betting sites. A lot of online operators offer welcome bonuses, only for creating an account and placing an initial deposit. There are also options to play with increased odds on certain games, free bets, accumulator bonuses, and money-back bonuses. Due to the range of companies available, punters can browse the promotions on each site, and find promotions that suit their tastes. The majority of these bonuses are also continually being updated, so there are always new perks to find.
Betting Features and Options in the British Bookmakers
British betting sites need to offer their clients new and exciting features to stand out from the crowd, and many of them do just that. A list of some of the features and options available through UK bookmakers includes:
This list is not exhaustive, and not every site will have the same features. Punters need to check each specific site to see what exactly they offer, and to see if there are any other services on offer that they might like.
Available Payment Methods
All reputable British sites offer consumers a wide range of payment methods, so they can deposit and withdraw their money with ease. All good online bookmakers will allow customers to use Visa, Mastercard, Neteller, Skrill, and PayPal. Using these methods to deposit money is almost instantaneous and should not cost anything, conveniently allowing you to bet as soon as you want. Withdrawing money is also generally immediate, and free when using any of these methods. These are also secure methods of payment, so provided customers always choose a safe site to bet with, their personal information is kept private.
Many sites may also offer alternative methods such as cryptocurrencies, other types of e-wallets, or bank transfers. While customers may prefer these types of payment options, they are less common, less likely to be immediate, and may have a transaction fee.
Almost all sites will allow punters to bet using the Great British Pound, the currency used in the UK. However, if punters are using an international site, there is a slight chance they will need to convert their deposits to euros (EUR), although it should be noted that this is unlikely.
Mobile Betting in the United Kingdom
Mobile betting is the fastest-growing form of betting in the UK, so it makes sense that bookmakers would cater to this audience. The majority of betting sites in the UK offer their services in mobile app form as well as their desktop site. Customers can freely download these apps for both Apple and Android devices, and enjoy the convenience of playing wherever, and whenever they wish.
It is possible that some smaller sites that are licensed may not have apps that are accessible to British players. However, in cases such as this, punters are still able to access a mobile version of the desktop site, allowing them to still bet online without the need for a computer. Customers may also wish to do this anyway, so there is no need to download the app if they do not want to.
Online casinos are legal in the United Kingdom. Although sports betting is still the most popular form of online gambling in the UK, online casinos are slowly gaining traction with an ever-growing market. Just last year online casinos had a gross gambling yield of over £2 billion, a slight increase from the year before. British online casinos are some of the best in the world and offer an extensive range of games for punters. The UKGC has issues licensed for some of the biggest online casinos, such as William Hill, Ladbrokes, Bet365 and Leo Vegas. The number of different options on the market also means that often bookies need to offer their customers more variety, better features, and bigger bonuses. Often, casinos will also offer live games, making the user feel as though they are in the casino, able to bet in real-time against other punters.
Leading sports for betting in the UK
Sports betting is where the majority of punters prefer to spend their time and money, and this is reflected in the full range of popular sports available to bet on in most sites.
Football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in Britain, and punters love to bet on it. Most UK gambling sites will offer a range of different championships to bet on, both local and international.
- Horse Racing and Greyhounds
Betting on horse races was one of the first types of gambling in England, and it remains popular still today. Generating over half a billion pounds in revenue each year, punters are able to choose from a variety of different bets and formats from all good quality bookmakers.
A sport that originated in England in the 16th century, cricket has long been popular with bettors. The shortest games are just under three hours long, long enough to enjoy the afternoon, with plenty of opportunities to bet when odds become favourable.
Rugby is another sport that originated in England, and has continued to experience popularity with punters. Most sites offer the opportunity to bet on large international championships, as well as local games. These games are often live-streamed, adding further excitement to betting online.
Globally, billions are spent on tennis betting each year, and the UK is contributing. Hosting one of the most prestigious tennis championships in the world, Wimbledon, encourages local punters to take a closer interest in the sport, and bet on some of the most prestigious games, as well as smaller local ones.
- Boxing and MMA
Physical fighting such as boxing and MMA fighting has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, not just in the UK but globally. There are generally a number of bets on offer, not only determining the winner so that even when matches are one-sided, punters can still enjoy the thrill of the pastime.
The Profile of a British Bettor
Online betting accounts for £5 billion pounds of the total £14.4 billion pound revenue that gambling made last year. Despite this, the average British bettor is increasingly favouring online gambling, with land-based gambling revenue falling by 22%.
The most common sport to bet on in the UK is football, both online and in physical bookmakers. This is closely followed by horse racing and tennis. Slots are the most popular casino game, beating out table games and poker, which are seeing a decline in popularity.
Is online gambling legal in the UK?
Yes, it is completely legal for people over the age of 18 to gamble in the UK, both in physical bookmakers and online. This includes sports betting and casino games.
How to choose the best sports betting site in the UK?
There are a number of different sites that offer sports betting, and it can be difficult to know which ones are good. The best sites will always be licensed in the UK, and specify on their website that they have a strict policy in regards to personal information and security. It also comes down to personal preference, the best site for a punter will have bonuses and promotions that can be used in conjunction with the sports they like to bet on.
Will I be taxed?
No, the British government does not tax players on their winnings. Bookmakers are taxed, but this should not affect the user.
Can I open an account and play in a currency other than GBP?
Yes, the majority of all betting sites provide customers with the option to play in different currencies. Almost all sites offer EUR, USD, as well as a host of other different currencies. Customers may just need to specify which currency they prefer.
What is the best British site for sports betting?
Although you can’t go wrong with any of the different licensed sites, one of the best sites for sports betting that is licensed in the UK is Ladbrokes. One of the largest and longest-standing betting establishments, they have a wide range of games that include international favourites such as American football and Aussie rules.
What is the best British casino site online?
While there are many safe, licensed options to choose from, Mansion Casino is one of the best sites registered in the UK. They also won “Casino of the Year” last year at the International Gaming Awards. They offer their players a wide range of choice, very generous bonuses, and top-notch safety measures to ensure complete privacy of data.
What is the best betting site for football in the UK?
888Sport is one of the best betting sites when it comes to betting on football for punters in the UK. They offer a wide range of local games, as well as international sports and championships. The site also offers extras such as a specific football accumulator bonus, as well as high-quality streaming options.
Are there any restrictions on UK players?
There are no restrictions on UK players – they are able to play on any sports or casino betting site they choose provided they are over the age of 18. Although there is a vast number of online gambling sites to choose from, punters may choose to play through a site that is not registered in the UK Punters may also choose to sign up to online sites that are not registered in the UK. This is not illegal. However, players will not be protected by any British agency if anything were to go wrong.
Conclusion and Final Verdict
The online betting scene in the UK is one of the best regulated in the world, providing a safe environment for players. The competitive market also means that the quality of services on offer is always increasing, as bookmakers attempt to stand out with their quality of service.
In the same way that UKGC licensing offers customers the reassurance that a site is safe and reliable, sites without such licensing should be avoided. There is a risk that this site is unsafe to use, and not up to the standards that players should expect.
British online betting sites also offer excellent services to overseas customers as well, not just their local population. British-based companies often allow players to bet in other currencies, and they will also often translate their site into other languages to make playing easier. A site that has been licensed by the UKGC is a good sign for international customers because it indicates a high-quality service, and high-quality security measures in place.