UK Gambling Licensing & Betting Law

Gambling CommissionIn Britain, it is a criminal offence to accept bets or offer a betting exchange if you are not holding a Gambling Commission license (GC).

In this guide, we are looking at the most popular UK bookmaker and list their license numbers. We also analyse why it is essential to have gambling licenses, the benefit of those, what they mean for betting sites and how an operator can get one and retain it.

We take a look at gambling law, the current Gambling Act 2014 and what are the repercussions for punters and betting industry. The main aim of the Gambling licenses in the Uk is to protect punters and also genuine betting sites from unfair competition.

Top UK Betting Sites Gambling License Details

ladbrokes 1 - UK Gambling Licensing Law Ladbrokes  Location: Based Gibraltar, Licence London, UK | License Number: 1611 | Review: Read Review | Visit Site

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Is Betting Legal In The UK?

The straight answer is yes but only if regulated by a license. It is interesting to note that until 2005 the online industry was completely unregulated and until 2014 international operators could accept bets in the UK without the need of holding a UK license. If you decide to wager with a betting site that doesn’t have a UK license you need to know that you are at risk as they are operating illegally and you might lose your money.

In the table above we have listed all the top UK operators, all of them correctly own a UK license, and you can also see the license number. The list is just an example, and there are also others UK betting sites that have the regular license and are not listed in this page. Our strong suggestion though is that you never gamble with a betting site in the UK that doesn’t have a license: if you do so, you need to be aware that your funds will not be protected under UK law.

Gambling License: What It Is?

Terms and conditions 300x297 - UK Gambling Licensing LawAll the betting sites that want to accept bets in the UK they need to have a gambling license issued by the Gambling Commission. This system was introduced by the Gambling Act of 2005 and dictate that anyone that wants to marketing gambling or transact with customers that are based in the UK need to have a gambling license.

To get a UK Gambling license, companies need to show that they have robust plans to prevent crime and also customers.

The Gambling Commission was created to issue and regulate licenses. Checking if an operator has a license is pretty simple as you only need to visit their website and check that they display their license and details. Operators have to have their license shown prominently in their site or premises. You can also search the license of a given operator on the Gambling Commission website. In our table above we have listed the license numbers: using that number on the Commission’s website will take you to that bookmaker’s license.

Usually, licenses are assigned to the holding company that can use it to operate several betting sites. All the betting sites that we have listed on BestBettingSites.Online have full regular UK Gambling License. You can check all the license details in our betting site reviews.

It is interesting to think that online gambling was completely unregulated until 2005 and in lots of countries, it is still like this. For this reason, having a flutter in the UK, it is great as this is one of the safest countries in the world when it comes to gambling online.

Who Are And What Is The Role Of The Gambling Commission?

The Gambling Commission was established in 2005 by the Gambling Act. It is an independent public body which is funded by the UK governments and specifically by the department for culture, media & sport. The Gambling Commission is the regulator for all gambling products like bingo, betting sites, gaming, casinos and so on. Also, the National Lottery and others lotteries are regulated since 2013 by the Gambling Commission.

250 people are employed by the commission: those are based in Birmingham, and the majority of costs are paid with license fees by operators. The Gambling Commission is not responsible for regulating other types of betting like index betting and spread betting which are under the jurisdiction of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

What Are The Tasks Of The Gambling Commission?

Preventing Crime – their task is to avoid illegal bookmaking (so in protection of the punter) and also betting fraud from punters (so in protection of the operators)
Promote Open Industry – the commission is promoting honesty in betting operations, and this also includes responsible gambling. All the licensees have to have transparent and fair terms in their offers without misleading.
Protecting Vulnerable People – this is one of the most critical tasks. Children under the age of 18 and gambling addicts have to be protected and shed away from gambling. Licensees need to monitor customers behaviour and also verify age and identity.

What Aren’t Gambling Commission Responsibilities?

The commission main aim is to ensure a responsible and safe gambling industry and for this reason they will not:
Deal With Customer Complaints – Operators will need to have their own systems in place so that they can deal with customers complaints efficiently. In case you wish to escalate a complain you can do so with the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS). To find out more read our complaints article.
Legal Advice – The Gambling Commission is not there to give advice, but they will provide some general info related to the Gambling Act.
Checking Every Gambling Website – even though operators have to have a license to operate in the UK legally, it is up to punters to verify that the betting site owns a license before starting to gamble.

How The Gambling Commission Regulates The Industry?

Since the commission is limited in their responsibilities and resources, they will always try to find a solution and will only proceed to legal actions when there are significant risks to their primary objectives.

If operators fail to meet the License conditions, then the Gambling Commission will intervene: if you believe a betting site is not following the rules dictated by the commission you can report it anonymously. When the breach is severe, the Gambling Commission can decide to revoke the license and also take legal action against the operator. Generally, the Gambling Commission is a body that will always try to work with operators and punters to ensure that the gambling industry in the UK will be as safe and ethical as it can possibly be.

Gambling Law In The UK

Several laws regulate all aspects of gambling: from prices and games, fees, gaming machines and so on. If you are interested to know more, you can see every law listed on the Gambling Commission website.

The Gambling Act 2005

gambling-act-2005The Gambling Act 2005 was made by the UK Government to have better laws to regulate the fast-evolving gambling industry. This was the first comprehensive review of gaming laws since the Betting and Gaming Act in 1960. With the Gambling Act 2005, the Gambling Commission was established to enforce the laws in the Act.

The Act also started to regulate for the first time online gambling in addition to the new ways of gambling in shops (like fixed odds terminals, gaming arcades and so on).

The 2005 Gambling Act is made to enforce the objectives of the Gambling Commissions seen above.

The Gambling Bill 2014

gambling-act-2014The 2014 Gambling Bill is an addition of the 2005 Gambling Act. This has more focus towards online and was made mainly to ensure that all gambling companies that operate in the UK will adhere to the Gambling Commission rules. Regardless of where they are based, operators that are willing to advertise or provide gambling service has to comply with UK regulation and have a Gambling Commission License. This law was necessary since the majority of operators are based either in Gibraltar or Malta. The Act also dictated that the government was entitled to 15% tax on gross profit that is earned in the UK regardless of where the bookmaker is situated.

UK Gambling Law History

law-1Gambling has been at the centre of attention throughout history. It has been restricted and even banned on a number of occasions by different monarchs. In 1541 the Unlawful Games Act was done by the parliament to restrict some new games: although gambling wasn’t directly banned by this act, it did so indirectly as sports and games were forbidden.

The first legislation on gambling came in 1845 with the Gaming Act. The act was made to restrict betting: bet was not enforceable as a contract, and it was illegal. If someone would walk away with your money following a bet, you will have no legal rights. It is interesting to note that this rule wasn’t changed until 2001 and in fact didn’t stop people from gambling.

The 1892 Gaming Act, in fact, had a loophole: it allowed betting to take place at race courses in the UK. Gambling off course, however, will remain illegal until 1960 (with the only exception being the football pools). The 1960 Act replaced the 1845 Gaming Act.

Until 1960 it was legal to place bets either by post or over the phone. Lots of operators managed to get around the regulation by employing staff that would take bets from a public telephone to the bookie. William Hill was one of the first bookmakers that tried everything to find a gap in these betting laws.
The Betting And Gaming Act of 1960 removed the restrictions that were previously placed on off-track betting, and there were lots of betting shops opened in the UK by 1961. Many saw this as the end of the mainstream popularity for greyhound racing and other smaller horse racing meetings. The Betting And Gaming Act of 1960 regulated pretty well the gambling industry, but at the end of the 20th Century, new rules were needed due to the evolution of in-shop gaming machines and the explosion of online betting. The 2005 Act and the 2014 Bill addressed those needs.

Customer Complaints

IBASThe UK government and Gambling Commission main focus is to protect customers by ensuring a safe and fair gambling industry. The Gambling Commission doesn’t have the responsibility to deal with customer complaints in regards to funds.
If you believe the betting site hasn’t been fair to you and it is breaching gambling rules, you can still report the operator to the Gambling Commission. If you believe you have been misled by marketing/advertising, it would be best for you to reach out the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA).
If you wish to file a complaint in regards to disputed funds with a betting site you should do with IBAS which is the independent body that mediates bookies-customers.

Gamble Responsibly

One of the most crucial tasks of the Gambling Commission is to make sure all betting operators are actively promoting responsible gambling. If you want to know more about responsible gambling check our dedicated article.

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