In the UK, gambling is a hugely popular pastime. Whether it’s betting on the horses, playing the national lottery, or spending a night in a casino, people love games of chance. But what many don’t know is that there are relatively strict laws regulating gambling in the UK.

In this article, we will take a look at the gambling laws in the UK and discuss what they mean for punters and operators. So whether you’re thinking of having a flutter yourself or are just interested for research purposes, make sure to read on!

Two Types of Gambling in the UK – Private and Commercial

The first thing to note is that the UK gambling laws recognise two types of gambling: private and commercial.

Private gambling is when you gamble without any professional involvement, such as wiping the floor with your friends while playing poker at home. In terms of private gambling, there are no specific laws regulating it in the UK. You can get it on the action without any special age restrictions or other requirements.

However, if you do choose to gamble privately, you should be aware of the risks involved. For example, if you’re playing poker with friends and one of them cheats, there is no legal recourse you can take.

What About Commercial Gambling?

Commercial gambling is when you play at a professional gaming joint, such as an online casino, sportsbook, or bingo hall. Most types of commercial gambling done through bookmakers and casinos are heavily regulated by the government in the UK. All operators must have a valid license from the UK Gambling Commission, the UK’s primary gambling regulator. This license ensures that the operator follows all of the necessary laws and regulations.

First off, you should know not to gamble if you’re not at least 18 years old. If children under the age of 18 are caught gambling, casino operators could be fined or even sent to prison. Also, it is up to gambling establishments to determine whether you are of legal age to play there. This means they may ask to see some form of ID before letting you play, both online and offline – at least in establishments that hold a licence under the UK gambling laws.

The Gambling Act, established in 2005, recognises six different types of games regulated by the UK government. The list includes casino games, poker, sports betting, bingo, slots, gaming machines and lotteries.

Different types of gambling have different rules and regulations. For example, casino games, online poker platforms and slots are regulated by the Gambling Act 2005, while sports betting is regulated by the Betting and Gaming Duties Act 1981.

Lotteries, some scratch cards, and some football pools will allow you to place bets as soon as you turn sixteen. If you’re unsure, you should check the terms and services – these will often include details on how old you’ll have to be to play a specific casino game or use a particular betting service.

National Lottery – The Exception That Proves The Rule

Lottery, on the other hand, has its own set of rules. Not only is the age requirement for participating in the national lottery in the UK lower, but players of the popular Euromillions lottery can play against people in nine other European countries.

What Do These Rules Mean for You?

Typically, bettors don’t suffer much from the laws set in place unless they are too young to play. According to the UK gambling laws, there are no licences a bettor has to obtain. Furthermore, unless betting is their primary source of income, bettors also don’t have to pay any taxes on their winnings.

On the other hand, if you would like to start your own casino or betting joint, you’ll have to meet a lot of requirements. For example, all betting places must obtain a licence from the UK Gambling Commission and comply with various practices and codes aimed at protecting players while gambling.

Your casino must also comply with different gambling advertising laws in the UK and other similar regulations. Every casino should be compliant with CAP Code and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)’s Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising. Lastly, every establishment accepting bets must adhere to the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice document (LCCP).

Operators also have to pay tax on all their gambling profits made in the UK, currently set at 15%.

What Happens if Someone Breaks the Law?

The penalties for breaking gambling laws in the UK can be severe, but they are less drastic for small-scale operations. If you are caught operating a commercial gambling operation without a license or operating it with a licence but in breach of its conditions, you will likely be fined. The amount of money you’d have to pay can go up to £5,000, coupled with 51 weeks of imprisonment.

Fines for improper advertising can go much higher (up to six figures) and are even bigger for major gambling establishments, with some known to pay millions of pounds in the past. So it’s essential to make sure that you are always following the law.

When starting a commercial gambling enterprise, it is important to make sure you’re familiar with all the new gambling laws in the UK: the rules, the regulations, and the requirements. If something seems unclear, or you have any further questions about the laws in the UK, feel free to contact the Gambling Commission. They will be more than happy to help you and answer any questions you may have.


What type of gambling is illegal?

In the UK, there are three types of illegal gambling:

  • Cheating at gambling
  • Betting on credit
  • Fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs)

Cheating at gambling is a criminal offence under gambling laws in the UK and can lead to up to two years in prison. Betting on credit is also illegal, as it can lead to debt and financial problems. FOBTs are also illegal in the UK, as they are considered harmful to gamblers.

Is online casino legal in the UK?

Yes, online casinos are legal in the UK. All online casinos must be licensed by the Gambling Commission and follow UK online gambling laws if they want to operate in the UK. Gambling is a legal activity in the UK as long as you are over 18 and are not breaking any other laws in the process. There are many different types of gambling that you can participate in, and as long as you do so responsibly, it can be a fun and exciting way to spend your time.

When was gambling illegal in the UK?

Gambling was illegal in the UK from 1845 to 1960. During this time, according to the gambling laws in the UK, all gambling was considered illegal, including casinos, poker, and sports betting. The only type of gambling that was legal during this time was the national lottery.