UK Gambling Laws

Gambling laws, like many others laws such as those regarding alcohol, vary around the world. In the UK, gambling is regulated for the most part by the Gambling  Commission. This regulatory body responsible for maintaining industry standards. Any contraventions of uk gambling laws can results in heavy fines or in more serious cases, the rescinding of an operating licence. In short, it pays to remain on the right side of the law in this heavily regulated sector.

What are the gambling laws in the UK?

The UK differs pretty significantly from the USA in how it regulates its gambling sector. For one, online betting is legal here in the UK. There are restrictions, however, it is not illegal to run an online casino as long as you are licensed. In America, online betting is only currently permitted in 3 of the 50 states.

Who regulates these laws?

As we mentioned above, the gambling laws are regulated in the UK by the Gambling Commission. The regulatory body was established in 2005 under the Gambling Act 2005. It assumed full powers in 2007 and has been responsible for maintaining order in the sector ever since. Previously, the sector was under the control of the Gaming Board for Great Britain.

There are several different subsectors within the gambling industry, all of which must be regulated differently to ensure that customer is protected. In Great Britain, the following subsections come under the purview of The Gambling Commission: bingo, casino, betting, arcades, lotteries and gambling machines.

  • Bingo– Games as defined by the GC, can be remote or non-remote. Remote (i.e online) games are subject to stricter rules. Automatic exclusion and time- out limits have recently been revised. Stricter controls regarding auto-play functionality and loss-limits will be introduced on 30th April 2016.
  • Casino– Non remote casinos are licensed to offer live casino games such as roulette, baccarat and blackjack. They can also offer games of equal chance such as poker and gaming machines. Like bingo, casino games can also be played remotely.
  • Betting– Licence holders can offer fixed odds betting from off course betting shops, on track shops and by remote means (online)
  • Arcade– There are 3 types of gaming arcades, each are licensed to offer specific categories of machines. These types are Adult Gaming Centres, Licensed Family Entertainment Centres or Unlicensed Family Entertainment Centres.
  • Lotteries– Tombolas, sweepstakes and raffles are classed as lotteries. The National Lottery is subject to different restrictions on both who can play and how it can be played. The National Lottery is also subject to a specific breakdown of ticket funds- of which 28% goes to charitable causes.
  • Gambling Machines– This includes reel based fruit, slot or jackpot machines. Semi or fully automated casino games are exempt from this category.

What is Remote Gambling?

Remote gambling, in short, is gambling via a remote communication channel. This can take the form of online gambling, gambling via telephone, television or even radio. In order to run a remote betting channel, any operator must first obtain a licence from the Gambling Commission or they face contravening uk gambling regulation. A licence is needed if any of an operator’s remote gambling equipment is based in Britain or if it transacts with or advertisers to consumers in Britain. The following is regulated by the Gambling commission: gambling software, remote casinos, remote betting, remote bingo and remote lotteries.

Gambling Act 2014

In 2014 the UK Gambling Act was revised. Amendments were made on the topics of Licensing and Advertising in order to protect players. The revised act stated that in order to require a licence from the commission, at least one piece of remote gambling equipment must be situated in the UK. If the equipment is situated outside the UK yet UK facilities are being used to house the operation, then the firm will also require a UK licence.

What does this mean for Operators?

Now any firms that fall into the above category will be subject to a 15% Point of Consumption Tax. This means that even off-shore brands will be forced to pay a 15% tax charge on all wagers.

What is an off-shore brand?

Off-shore brands are those which advertise their wares in Britain but hold a licence from a whitelisted territory. These include Gibraltar, Alderney, the Isle of Man, Antigua or Barbuda. Such brands will be subject to this tax despite being licensed elsewhere.

What does this mean for players?

For players, the Government hopes that it will stem the flow of unlicensed and unregulated sites from entering the market. These sites are a danger to players. They pose the risk of money laundering. Also, by playing at an unregulated site, players run the risk of a site not paying out.

Future Changes

Recently, the Government unveiled plans to make further amendments to the 2014 Gambling Act. If the law passes, operators will now have to pay a 15% Point of Consumption tax on any free bets. At present, they only subject to this charge on real money wagers.

Should this happen, players may find that there are less free money promotions to be found on the web.

Gambling laws uk, are constantly changing. It pays to remain abreast of new changes. As a player, you can predict what is going to happen and prepare for any changes which will take place at your favourite bingo site as a result.