Gambling laws in the UK

So, you’ve decided to visit the British Isles, to marvel at the sights, comment on the weather, enjoy all the different accents available to you, and, of course, to gamble. However, can you gamble in the UK? What are the rules for betting in general? Can the foreigners bet? Who regulates games of chance? We are here to find out. All you have to go through is a little bit of light reading and planning on how to spend your winnings. Cheers!

The Gambling Act of 2005

The Gambling Act of 2005 re-invented gambling in the British Empire. Several gaming areas were off limits to Britons prior to it, and others have become better regulated.

Bingo and Casinos

Due to their popularity right after the Second World War, it was pretty much impossible to outlaw, or look down on, this form of entertainment. In fact, due to the act, it is now possible for the UK to have super casinos, like those in Vegas. Gaming machines are split into categories for easier management, and for the protection of minors.

Sports and Online Betting

While there are no clear provisions on the control of betting on sports in the UK by using this act, it is still monitored by UKCG (the United Kingdom Gaming Commission). Bookmakers and online websites, like 888, Ladbrokes or William Hill, welcome everyone, foreigners included, to partake in predicting the outcomes of sports events – mainly soccer, horse racing and hound racing.

There are only three rules that a website must follow in order to become qualified to provide gambling services in the UK, and those are:

  1.       Gambling must not in any way be associated with crime.
  2.       It should be fair.
  3.       Children must be protected from it.

Lottery and Scratchcards

Should you choose to play the lottery, the scratchcards, or partake in the football pool, according to the Gambling Act 2005 – Part 4 Protection of children and young persons, which actually deals with the age issue of betting in the UK, you must be 16 years of age. Speaking of age, the British are somewhat peculiar when it comes to age and betting.

Minimum Age

This might come as a shock, but the stereotypically uptight Britons are pretty lax when it comes to minimum age. What we mean by this is simple – to gamble at a casino or to use a gaming machine you must be 18. This is standard in some places in the world, whereas in others you need to be older to even think about playing games.

However, the true genius of Anglo-Saxons, Normans and Celts comes into play with this – under this very same act, there is no age limit for equal chance gaming, though only with a prize gaming permit, or a licensed family center. What does this mean? Simply put, you can play poker and blackjack if you are a minor, but only in a family establishment, or if the establishment in question has a prize gaming permit.