Online Casino Regulation in the UK: Overview and Perspectives

Gambling is a well-regulated, licensed, and thriving business in the UK because of the Gambling Act of 2005.

UK players have a wide range of choice when it comes to licensed online casinos, online poker rooms, bingo sites, and online sportsbooks.

The UK’s attempts to regulate its gambling industry date back to 1960 when it enacted a rather restrictive law called the Betting and Gaming Act. The Gambling Act of 2005 and the amendment made to it in 2014 relaxed the rules considerably, leading to the regulation and licensing of several forms of gambling and throwing the market open to foreign operators.

Gambling Act 2005

As a result, you can gamble legally in the UK provided you are at least 18 years old. But the minimum legal age to play scratchcards, participate in football pools, and play lottery games is 16.

You can gamble without a license in the UK and enjoy tax free winnings, provided you are not a professional gambler.

If you are an operator, you have to obtain a license, comply with advertising standards and gambling regulations, and pay a tax of 15% on all profits you make by offering online gambling services to UK customers. If you break the laws, you could either end up in prison or pay a hefty fine.

Gambling offences in the UK include underage gambling, employing underage people at gambling facilities, cheating at gambling, offer online gambling services without a license, using gambling machines without permits, and non-compliance of gambling advertisement regulations.

Read also: How Online Gambling Regulated in Baltic Countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.

The UK Gambling Commission

The Government of UK established the UK Gambling Commission under the Gambling Act of 2005 with the purpose of regulating commercial gambling in the country in partnership with various licensing bodies.

The Gambling Commission also regulates the National Lottery as per the provisions of the National Lottery Act of 1993.

UK Gambling Commission

The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act, which was passed into law in 2014, makes it illegal for any operator to advertise to or transact with any British resident without first obtaining a license from the Gambling Commission.

The UK Gambling Commission is a non-department public body (NDPB), which functions independently under the direct sponsorship of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS).

It employs 300+ employees, most working in its Birmingham offices and some working from home across Wales, Scotland, and England.

The commission functions on fees paid for its services by the individuals and organizations it licenses, and the DCMS sets the licensing fees.

Since the commission also regulates the National Lottery, it receives grants from the National Lottery Distribution Fund.

Here are the objectives of the UK Gambling Commission:

  • Keep the UK gambling industry free from crime and disorder
  • Ensure that gambling services are transparent and fair
  • Protect vulnerable groups such as minors from the negative impacts of gambling

To meet its objectives, the UK Gambling Commission grants licenses to individuals and operators to provide betting services, arcades, gambling machines, online & telephonic gambling, bingo gaming, and gambling software. It also grants licenses for national lottery games.

It not only establishes a set of requirements for its licensees, but also conducts periodic assessments to ensure that its licensees are complying with those requirements.

It firmly deals with non-compliance and uses its regulatory powers as and when required.

Read also: Online Casino Regulation in Finland: Overview and Perspectives.

Applying for an Operating License in the UK

Operators who wish to set up a gambling business in the UK must first apply for a license online. You must submit the required documents, a list of which you will find on the UK Gambling Commission website.

You can also ask a third party, such as a lawyer, to apply on your behalf. If the application procedure confuses you, you can create a test application to gain a better understanding of how it works.

When processing your application, the UK Gambling Commission checks for evidence that supports the following:

  • Ownership and identity
  • Finances
  • Competence
  • Criminality
  • Integrity

If, for any reason, the commission refuses your application, it will also give you the reasons for doing so.

If you are unhappy with the way the commission has dealt with your application for a license, you have the option of appealing to an independent body called the HM Courts & Tribunals Service.

Once you receive your license to operate an online gambling business in the UK, you have to maintain it by paying an annual fee to the commission.

Also, you have to renew your license every five years. You can use an online tool called the fees calculator to find out exactly how much you have to pay as fees to the commission.

The UK Gambling Commission also offers a service called the online self-serve portal, which makes things very easy for online gambling businesses.

If you already hold an operating license in the UK, you can use this service to apply for more licenses, modify the services you are licensed to offer, pay fees, and submit audits or regulatory returns.

You can also use the online self-serve portal to apply for an operating license or a personal functional license online.

If you already hold a personal functional license, which allows you to work as a dealer, cashier, pit boss, supervisor, inspector, or security officer at a land-based casino, you can use this service to manage your personal license.

How to Contact the UK Gambling Commission

You will get plenty of information regarding legislation, licensing, and responsible gambling on the official website of the UK Gambling Commission.

However, you can use the following methods if you feel the need to contact a customer support agent:

  • Telephone Number: Call the UK Gambling Commission on the number 0121-230-6666.
  • Email: Email your query to You can attach documents to your email, but make sure that your attachment is not over 5MB.
  • Email for License Holders: If you are a UK online casino gaming license holder, you can send an email to

Responsible Gambling in the UK

UK regulated gambling industry focuses on responsible gambling. The official website of the UK Gambling Commission has a section devoted to responsible gambling, which shows you how to gambling responsibly at a licensed online casino using online gambling management tools.

Check if you or someone you know may have a gambling problem

Here is a list of things you can learn at the UK Gambling Commission’s responsible gambling section:

  • Tips to stay safe from scams and frauds
  • Importance of verifying your identity at licensed online casinos
  • Guides to help you understand the online gambling industry
  • Online gambling management tools and how to use them
  • Getting help with controlling your gambling activities
  • Excluding yourself from an online casino’s services

The UK is a well-regulated gambling jurisdiction for operators as well as gambling enthusiasts. You can play and run online gambling businesses in a safe, secure, well-regulated, and licensed gambling.

You can rest assured of a great gambling experience as long as you comply with the laws and gamble responsibly.

Read also: Online Casino Regulation in Norway: Overview and Perspectives.