The UK gambling market is among the best-regulated ones across the world. Unlike many other jurisdictions, gambling in the United Kingdom is completely legal and rigorously supervised. Additionally, the high demand for gaming services within the country has created favorable conditions for the emergence of numerous competitive brands and generated immense revenue for the country’s budget.
The current publication zeros in on the primary pieces of gambling-related legislation, the regulatory authority, as well as the most essential restrictions imposed by the law. We also touch upon the future outlooks and changes to be implemented in the industry.
All gaming and sports betting providers geared towards gamblers from the country operate in full compliance with the strict regulations of the UK Gambling Commission on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Below, we list all gaming products provided in a digital and land-based form that fall within the scope of the Commission:
- Casino games including slots, table games, roulette, and blackjack
- Sports betting and horse race betting
- Fantasy betting
- Social/Skill arrangements
The Government provides the Commission with broad regulatory powers, including the capacity to issue warnings, suspend licenses, and impose penalties.
The extensive gambling regulation framework in the United Kingdom is mainly focused on license holders and concerns various aspects such as social responsibility, self-exclusion facilities, anti-money laundering practices, and the prevention of terrorist financing, among others.
Furthermore, other restrictions that apply to the gambling industry include:
- The minimum legal age of individuals involved in gambling activities is 18 years. ID verification and relevant KYC procedures are obligatory.
- The use of credit cards for funding gaming and betting accounts is strictly prohibited, aiming to minimize financial losses for gamblers.
- A new set of regulations aimed at the protection of minors and vulnerable individuals would prevent gambling operators from utilizing advertisements that include professional footballers and social media stars.
Gambling Laws and Regulations
The UK gambling laws are conducive to the industry’s prosperity, as long as operators provide a completely fair environment to their customers. In this section, we draw attention to the main piece of legislation governing the gambling industry in the UK.
The Gambling Act of 2005
The Gambling Act of 2005 is the fundamental piece of legislation that applies to both digital and land-based gambling operators. This act has also identified the UK Gambling Commission as the main entity responsible for regulating the three main forms of gambling identified by the law – gaming, betting, and participating in a lottery.
The main purpose of the act is to prevent gambling from being a source of crime, ensure a fair environment for users of gambling services, and protect underaged and vulnerable individuals from any negative influence.
As per the original provisions of the act, it followed a “point-of-supply” legislative scheme, whereby the physical location of the operators mattered. In other words, the Act did not relate to operators offering gambling services to British citizens from abroad.
The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act of 2014
The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act of 2014 is the first amendment of the Gambling Act of 2005, which shifted the focus from the “point-of-supply” to the “point-of-consumption” legislative scheme.
Under the new provisions, irrespective of the operators’ physical location, their activity is to be criminalized if they provide facilities to British gamblers without a license from the UK Gambling Commission. In a way, the 2014 amendment to the Gambling Act closed the loophole, enabling offshore companies to deliver unlicensed services to UK citizens.
The 2020 Government Review of the Gambling Act
In December 2020, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport launched a review of the gambling laws in the country to make sure they are effective and adequate for the contemporary conditions. Furthermore, it was meant to consider the Gambling Commission’s authority and resources to keep up with the licensed sector and curb the negative influence of the black market.
As a result of the review, which lasted from December 2020 to March 2021, the Government undertook to prepare a White Paper, sketching proposals for future amendments to the gambling legislation. It has come close to finalizing.
Besides the broad range of well-established operators and the colossal profits realized by the gambling industry, there are many other merits of a strictly regulated market. Fans of gaming and sports betting enjoy a perfectly lawful, fair, and transparent environment, knowing their rights are fully protected. The latest review of the Gambling Act is meant to ensure that the industry keeps up with the requirements of the new digital age and acknowledges the need for reforms.