A compliance FAQ from Betting.co.uk
Welcome to the Betting.co.uk UK Legal and Compliance page. In this section, we provide easy to understand answers to everyday legal and compliance questions about UK gambling laws. Don’t get caught out by online gambling companies ever again!
Our casino and sports experts will attempt to demystify some of the complex issues surrounding UK gambling laws and those pesky Terms & Conditions that we are all expected to sign up to. They can also help to explain the reasons why, online casinos and bookmakers, do some of the things they do, that some players find incomprehensible.
A Brief Overview of UK Gambling Laws
Gambling laws in the UK are extensive and complex. It is not possible to summarise in a few paragraphs UK gambling laws in their entirety. However, in this overview we will attempt to explain the basic principles of UK gambling legislation and why it is important for you to understand them.
The Gambling Act 2005 (amended 2014)
Gambling laws in the UK are set out in the gambling Act 2005. The core principles of gambling legislation in the UK are….
- Preventing gambling from becoming a source of crime or disorder or being associated with crime and disorder in the UK.
- To ensure that gambling in the UK is conducted in a fair and transparent manner.
- To protect children and young adults and other vulnerable groups from harm or exploitation due to gambling.
Essentially, UK gambling laws were set up to protect you, the consumer, from harm associated with gambling.
It should be borne in mind that the current Gambling Act is an update of the original Betting and Gaming Act 1960 which saw the introduction of widespread gambling legislation in the UK. The 1960 act was introduced specifically to combat organised crime and criminal enterprises that were at the time heavily involved with UK gambling operations.
**As it stands today, there is zero recognised involvement by any criminal gang or organisation within land-based or online gambling in the UK.**
With that thought implanted in our minds let’s take a look at each of these principles in more detail.
Crime and Gambling in the UK
Back in the early to late 50s, criminal activity in gambling was seen to be a problem in the UK. So much so that it was deemed necessary to update existing UK gambling laws. In those days, the idea of screening casino owners to ensure that they were ‘fit and proper’ to run a casino was anathema. This led to some gambling houses (nightclubs with gambling tables as opposed to today’s high street casinos) in London and the provinces being operated by criminal organisations such as the Kray twins. This simply cannot happen today.
Fair and Transparent UK Gambling Laws
The thing about gambling laws in the UK today is that they are clearly set out in statute and as such is clear and transparent. Everyone has access to UK gambling laws and can read and understand them. This was not always the case.
Protection of the Vulnerable
Probably the most fundamental of UK gambling laws is that you have to be 18+ to gamble in the UK. Anyone under this age is not considered to be mature enough or financially stable enough to take on debts that could be incurred through gambling*.
[Note: Nowadays it is not possible to run up gambling debts at the casino or bookmakers as it was when the original UK gambling laws were set out.]
UK Gambling Commission
The gambling commission is an independent body set up by Parliament to oversee the implementation of gambling laws in the UK. From its head office in Birmingham, it ensures that the core principles of the Gambling Act 2005 are upheld.
The gambling commission is also responsible for the issuance of UK gambling licences. Anyone running gambling operations in the UK must be in possession of a valid UK gambling licence. Furthermore, key personnel within the organisation should also be issued with a UK gambling licence.
UK Gambling Licenses
Gambling licences in the UK, as issued by the UK gambling commission, fall into two distinct types. A non-remote gambling license that requires physical premises from where the customer can place bets, and a remote gambling licence for the provision of online gambling services.
This is the same for bookmakers, casinos, bingo halls and slots arcades. Furthermore, suppliers to the gambling industry such as slot machine manufacturers and providers of online gambling games also require a licence issued by the UK gambling commission.
In order for any company to obtain a gambling licence from the UK gambling commission, they must first prove that they are fit and proper to hold such a licence. In this way, the consumer (that is you and me) can be satisfied that when we gamble we do so with someone that operates within the law. We can also be sure that the gambling games we play are conducted honestly and fairly.
Individual Gambling License
As well as the gambling operator itself, key individuals are also required to hold a UK gambling license. For physical high street gambling operators there are two basic license types….
- Personal Management License
- Personal Function License
As the name suggests the PML is for managers and supervisors and the PFL is for all other grades of personnel who perform non-management functions. Anyone who is not directly involved with gambling operations such as cleaners, bar and waiting staff or receptionists do not require a license.
For online gambling operators, only key personnel are required to be licensed. This will generally be the operations manager and heads of key departments such as gaming etc. All other personnel at online gambling operations including customer service, do not require a UK gambling license.
Gambling in the UK is a Contract
Essentially, when you Gamble at an online casino or a high street bookmaker you are entering into a contract with that operator. It is important to remember that the operator agrees to provide gambling services within the confines of UK law, whilst you agree to play according to the terms and conditions laid down by your chosen gambling provider.
As with any other contract, it is important for you to understand the terms and conditions that are in this contract. By reading the terms and conditions of your chosen gambling operator carefully, you can save yourself from a lot of problems, and potential heartache, in the future. With that in mind, we will cover a few of the most significant terms and conditions that you will encounter.
The list below is for your guidance only and should not be considered comprehensive. Betting.co.uk strongly recommends that you examine the terms and conditions of your chosen gambling provider before registration.
Valid ID is Required When Gambling Online in the UK
It is a fact of life in the UK, and indeed most of Europe that you need to provide a valid ID when registering with a new online gambling operator. This is a legal requirement and cannot be avoided. If you wish to gamble online you must first prove you are old enough to do so. The reasons for this should be obvious. Primarily, it is done to prevent young people under the age of 18 from being exposed to gambling and causing themselves significant harm. There are other reasons too, why submitting your ID is a necessity, and we will discuss those later on.
High Street Casinos and Challenge 25
Unlike their online counterparts, high street casinos have the advantage of physically being able to see their customers. Because of this it is not always required to show a valid ID when entering a high street casino to gamble.
Instead high street casinos operate a Challenge 25 policy. What this means is that the casino can legally ask anyone who wishes to gain access to the premises, and who appears to be under the age of 25, for ID to prove their age. If you are clearly over the age of 25 (and you do not wish to become a member) then ID will not be required.
Should you signify an intention to join the casino as a member though, UK gambling laws state that you must produce a valid ID in order to join, no matter what your age.
Always Gamble Responsibly
Responsible gambling is the buzzword of the day as far as online betting & wagering is concerned. You will hear this mentioned in every gambling advert that you see on TV and on the radio, and posted on bus shelters up and down the country.
As a responsible resource ourselves, and because we don’t want any of our readers to encounter problems that can easily be avoided by following a few simple rules, we have come up with…
8 Tips To Prevent Yourself From Getting Into Trouble
When it comes to gambling responsibly, there is only so much that UK gambling legislation can really do for you. At the end of the day we are all responsible for our own actions. However, there are some simple tips, that if followed, should prevent you from getting into problems further down the line.
Gambling Online is NOT a Guaranteed Way to Make Money
Gambling can be fun, and yes, occasionally it can be profitable, but it is NOT a career move. Put aside your dreams of going to Monte Carlo and breaking the bank, it isn’t going to happen. Be realistic, play for fun and play occasionally, if you are a sports bettor, bet on the games that have significance to you. You do not need to bet on every market.
Gamble an Amount That You Can Comfortably Afford
It doesn’t matter whether you are a single person or happily married with two kids, we all have a budget. Stick to it!
Take Your Losses on the Chin
One of the biggest mistakes that gamblers make is chasing their losses. If you lose a little bit of money gambling online, don’t suddenly feel that you need to get it back and start throwing more money at the bookmakers with a series of ill-advised bets. Close your desktop/laptop, or put your mobile back in your pocket and go do something else. Tomorrow is another day!
Set Yourself Online Gambling Limits
In order to comply with responsible gambling legislation, UK bookmakers and online casinos all now offer you the opportunity to set your own betting limits. This is a great initiative, use it! You are able to set your wagering and/or loss limits for the amount of money you wager per bet, per day per week and per month. If you gamble online then you want to make this the first thing you do upon registration.
Don’t Play For Too Long
There just isn’t any need to gamble online for hours and hours at a time. Before you begin to play, decide how much time you want to allow yourself for the session and stick to it.
Drinking and Gambling is NOT a Good Idea
Let’s be honest here, drinking and just about anything is not a great idea, but hey, I’m not here to lecture you. Relaxing at home with a Glenlivet and soda in one hand and your mobile phone and a low stakes Blackjack game in the other is all well and good. However, don’t forget to make your mark on the bottle before you start and don’t go below it.
Take Up Other Outside interests
There are other things besides gambling you know. Fly Fishing comes to mind. Or photography or mountain biking or skateboarding or, well you get the picture right?
Sometimes Self Exclusion Becomes a Necessity
If for whatever reason you have chosen to ignore the previous seven steps then we come to what, for many people, may be the last resort. At the end of the day if gambling is upsetting you or your loved ones, or simply stressing you out, or you just can’t afford it any more, then take a break. Visit the BeGambleAware website or pick up the phone and call the National Gambling Helpline: 0808 8020 133.[For those of you that gamble in one of the many high street casinos around the UK you may wish to approach the casino manager on duty who can advise you about how to enrol in SENSE which is run by the Betting & Gaming Council.]
Gambling Laws in the UK Help Combat Money Laundering
In recent years there has been a rise in criminal gangs from all over Europe attempting to ‘launder’ dirty money* by using online casinos. This does not mean that the casinos themselves are involved in criminal activity. In most cases, they have simply been manipulated.
One of the reasons that online casinos have been able to be so easily duped, is because there was never a framework in place rigid enough to prevent it. In the UK the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Regulations 2019 was bought in to do just this. These regulations were implemented as a result of the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering Directive.
This directive is far-reaching and covers much more than just casino gambling online. It also covers such things as…
- Prepaid Cards
- High-Value Goods
- Beneficial Ownership
- High-Risk Third Countries
- Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs)
Because of the steps recommended by the European Commission, you may have noticed significant changes to how you are able to gamble online, and in your high street casino or bookmaker.
You are limited in the amount of money that you can deposit or withdraw in any one gambling session without submitting an ID. Should you win or lose an amount equivalent to €2000 (£1400) over a single gaming session then you will be required to submit a valid ID to the gambling operator. This ID will need to be verified before you can withdraw any winnings in excess of this amount.
This is one of those UK gambling laws that are very important to understand. Having access to this information now will save you from any embarrassment when you come to withdraw your winnings following a big win at the bookies or the casino.
Similarly, should you deposit or withdraw an excessive amount of money over a longer period of time (usually around £20,000 in any 30 day period) then again, ID will be required.
The good news of course is that once you have produced a valid ID for the gambling operator, then both you and they will have complied with UK gambling laws, and you will be free to gamble at whatever limit you are comfortable with.
Having said that, it should further be noted that if you are in the privileged position to be able to continue to gamble at these sorts of levels, then at some stage in the future you will be required to prove from where you obtain your money.
This form of the enhanced verification process is designed to show that the funds with which you gamble have not been obtained illegally. The sorts of documents that you may be asked for in this situation could include…
- Proof of earnings such as salary payslips etc
- Company accounts and registration
- Details of any pension plan held
- Details of property ownership
- Proof of inheritance
That list alone, tells you just how seriously anti-money laundering legislation in the UK is being taken by the government.
At the end of the day, each casino or bookmaker in the UK is bound by UK gambling laws. The penalty for not taking them seriously is very heavy and include huge fines and even imprisonment. For this reason, you can be sure that if your gambling operator asks you for documents then it is because gambling law in the UK demands it of them.
Gambling commission Bans the Use of Credit Cards
In April 2020 new UK gambling laws were introduced banning the use of credit cards for the purposes of gambling. Effectively this ended the last possible way for ordinary people to gamble on credit.
Debit and prepaid cards (or online eWallets) were not affected, but it is now not possible to gamble with money that you don’t actually have. This piece of UK gambling legislation shows how seriously the government are taking the issue of gambling-related harm.
In this article, we have tried to explain some of the key elements of gambling laws in the UK and the reason behind them. Knowing these facts will help you to understand some of the complexities of UK gambling laws. However, it is not a comprehensive list. It is unlikely that you will ever come into contact with even half of the pieces of UK gambling legislation currently in existence. What you should take away from this though, is the realisation that forewarned is forearmed.
Because of this Betting.co.uk recommends that you always read the terms and conditions of your chosen online gambling operator before depositing any money.
*Dirty money refers to money that has been gained by illegal means.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the gambling laws in the UK?
UK gambling laws are defined in the Gambling Act of 2005 (amended 2014) and are predominantly aimed at protecting the consumer. The most significant of all the gambling laws UK is that to be able to take part in any form of betting & wagering in the UK you must be at a minimum of 18 years of age.[/faq-item]
When did gambling become legal in the UK?
Prior to 1960 UK gambling laws were somewhat outdated. What laws there were, mostly referred to lottery games which had been illegal in the UK since 1698, during the reign of George I. This changed in 1934 with the Lotteries Act which legalised small lotteries.
Up until 1960 and the introduction of the Betting & Gaming Act, gambling was still considered to be a private affair between ‘gentlemen’ and as such was not regulated. It was, however, still possible to pursue gambling debts in the courts.
How much is a UK gambling license?
UK gambling license fees come in two parts. There is an initial application fee and then there is an annual fee which is payable 30 days from the day you receive your license. These fees are further graded into different tiers. Since 2007 these tiers have been decided according to a company’s real or calculated Gross Gaming Yield. GGY is a fancy way of saying gross profits before costs have been deducted.
For a remote casino license (online casino) there are nine tiers. The lowest tier is for online casinos with a GGY of less than £550,000 per annum. The highest tier is reserved for online casinos with a GGY of more than £1 billion.
It may surprise you to learn that the application fee for the lowest tier is a mere £2,640 and the annual fee just £2,709. Whereas if an online casino generates revenues in excess of £1 billion per annum the application fee would be £57,304 and the annual fee would be £512,083, although this equates to a mere 0.05% of the casino’s GGY.
How old do you have to be to gamble in the UK?
Gambling laws in the UK allow anyone over the age of 18 to gamble online or in licensed gambling premises.
How big of a social problem is gambling in the UK?
Despite what some sections of the press, and indeed the government, would have you believe the UK is not in the midst of some form of mass socio-economic collapse due to gambling.
Lonely housewives up and down the UK are not defrauding their employers en-masse. Similarly, tens of thousands of middle-aged men are not throwing themselves off rooftops due to running up massive gambling debts. It is true that many people do have problems controlling their online gambling habits. It is also true that this may ultimately cause problems both with an individual’s physical and mental wellbeing.
However, a recent study by the National Centre for Social Research, in collaboration with the University of Liverpool, found that (from a representative sample of active online gambling accounts in the UK) a whopping 85% of gamblers spent less than £200 per year on gambling. That is £3.84 per week. To put that in perspective two regular Americanos at Costa Coffee would set you back £3.90.