Gaming Laws in the UK An Overview

For centuries, people of Great Britain have engaged in their favourite pastime, gambling! Unlike most countries, where Gambling is severely restricted or outright banned, the United Kingdom has enjoyed Gambling for centuries. According to surveys, at least 43% of people have partaken in some form of gambling. More than a quarter of people have participated in the National Lottery this year, raising more than £1,900 million for projects under the National Lottery.

Some might argue that with such a high amount of gambling, the people of the United Kingdom are at great risk of gambling addictions and losses. However, the reason gambling has thrived in the UK for so long is because of the UK Gambling Commission, which regulated gambling in a way that allows everyone to enjoy gambling while preventing any exploitation.

Let’s understand the laws that keep people from harm and lets everyone enjoy gambling!

You Have to be 18 to Gamble

In the UK, the minimum age for being able to gamble is 18, regardless of whether it is online or offline. Gambling establishments are legally required to confirm whether or not their customers are above the age of 18. They can do this by legally asking for the necessary ID proofs, and if required, other documents to support it.

There is one exception, however. You can participate in Lotteries, some select scratch cards and pools for football games even if you are under 18. The minimum gambling age for these activities is 16 years in the UK.

The Use of Credit Cards to Fund Gambling Activities is Prohibited

That’s right! You cannot use funds from your Credit Card to bet. This makes sure that people cannot bet more than what they have and don’t end up going into debt.

The Gambling Act of 2005

There are 3 forms of Gambling that are permitted in the United Kingdom. These are Gaming, Making Bets and Participating in Lotteries. The Gambling Act of 2005 recognizes these activities and states that the UK Gambling Commission is the main entity that is responsible for the regulation of these activities.

This law was further amended in 2014, which took into account operators who were offering gambling services to the citizens of the UK and prohibited them from doing that unless they had a licence from the Gambling Commission.

There are Strict Penalties for Breaking Any Laws

While gambling laws are relaxed in the UK compared to other countries, breaking the law does result in severe penalties. The Gambling Act of 2005 has a long list of offences that are punishable.

You can receive a £1000 fine for underage gambling. Cheating, or even trying to do so, can attract a hefty £5000 fine, along with 1 year of imprisonment. These laws cover not only people who gamble, but also gambling operators, who can attract similar penalties for employing underage people, for providing gambling services without a licence or permit or for breaking any advertisement regulation by their advertisements.

Gambling Ads are legally allowed on British Television

Previously, the law only allowed ads for only certain types of gambling activities, but the 2007 Gambling Act relaxed these restrictions. Since then, there has been a 7 fold increase in gambling ads.

While there are a few restrictions and rules, gambling ads are allowed on Television.

There are self-exclusion methods like GamStop

While most people enjoy gambling responsibly, some might feel that their gambling activities are getting out of hand. In such cases, they can sign up for GamStop. GamStop is a service that stops gambling operators from providing their services to people who have signed up for GamStop.

People can sign up for a self exclusion period of 6 months, 1 year or 5 years, depending on their requirements and the severity of their problems. Once they do so, they are unable to use gambling services for the duration of their self chosen exclusion period.

Most casinos that work within the UK have to cooperate with the Gambling Commission of the UK. However, there are many offshore casinos that do not have to do the same. While not cooperating the UKGC will result in the termination of the licences of casinos in the UK, offshore casinos have no obligation to do the same. In fact there are many UK betting sites not on GamStop.

National Lottery Draws are a Public Favourite

According to surveys conducted in 2022, National Lottery Draws are the most popular form of Gambling in the United Kingdom, with about a third of the British population participating in the same. These lotteries are strictly regulated by the UK Gambling commission and are, in fact, run by the state itself, and are well regulated by the Gambling Commission of Great Britain. There are special rules for the same. 25% of the prize fun goes to “Good Causes”, 12% goes to the government itself, 4% goes to various retailers in the form of commissions and 5% goes to the lottery operator.

Gambling Laws are Being Reviewed for their Effectiveness

The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport had launched a review of the existing gambling laws in December 2020. This was done to make sure that the laws that were in place were effective and prevented the exploitation of people. They were also aimed towards curbing the black market gambling that was taking place in the UK.

Gambling Ads are not allowed on video games and websites popular with children

The Committee of Advertising Practice is responsible for setting the guidelines that advertisers have to follow. They introduced a slew of regulations aimed towards introducing a layer of protection for minors and making sure that they are not exposed to gambling ads.

Final Thoughts

These and many other laws have ensured that the British public can gamble safely without worrying about getting exploited. We encourage everyone to gamble safely and responsibly while following the rules and laws set by the Government and the Gambling Commission of the United Kingdom.