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Gambling in the United Kingdom

UK Betting Laws and Casinos

By Reno Rollins

UK GamblingThe United Kingdom (also known as the UK or Britain) is comprised of Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. All gambling in the UK is governed by the Gambling Commission, which is part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The Gambling Act of 2005

The Gambling Act of 2005 repealed the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1963, the Gaming Act of 1968 and the Lotteries and Amusements Act of 1976. It implemented a new system to regulate gambling in the UK, with a premium placed on gaming fairness, crime prevention within the industry and keeping vulnerable adults and children safe from the effects. It also addressed the issue of the growing Internet market.

The Gambling Act does not cover the National Lottery (managed by the National Lottery Commission) or sports betting (governed by the Financial Services Authority).

Fully operational as of September 2007, the Gaming Commission will issue licenses for both land-based and Internet gambling companies. Unless declared otherwise, all remote gaming licenses will remain in effect for an indefinite period of time. As of March 2007, the Remote Online Gaming Tax was set at 15%.

Gambling in the Isle of Man

While the Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom, the UK does take on the responsibility of governing and defending the island. Due to legislation passed in the early part of the 21st century, The Isle of Man has become an important base for numerous online gaming companies. These companies include:

  • Jackís Backgammon
  • PokerStars
  • Link2Bet.com
  • The Raffle Club
  • GetOffTheRail
  • Bowmans Sportsbook
  • Bets for Traders
  • Ascot Sports
  • Boylesports & Lotteries
  • betinternet.com
  • BetOnMarkets
  • Paddy Power

Casinos in the United Kingdom

Prior to the Gaming Act of 1968, casinos in the United Kingdom were required to be members-only, and the number of gaming machines were limited to 10. Enforcement of such laws was difficult, and the implementation of the Gaming Act allowed for more traditional casinos.

The Gambling Act of 2005 paved the way for even larger casinos to be built, although the plan was to build one every few years. Numerous cities throughout the UK placed bids on a Vegas-style super casino, including Blackpool and Manchester. Manchester was eventually selected, and it was expected to bring in 265 million Pounds in investments and create 2,700 new jobs.

However, when new Prime Minister Gordon Brown took office, he essentially killed off the plan, preferring to find other ways to help stimulate Manchesterís economy. Much of this was reportedly due to concerns about the social impact of expanding the gambling sector.

As of this writing, there are numerous casinos throughout the United Kingdom, though most tend to be built on a smaller scale than those found in Las Vegas. Some of these UK casinos include:

  • Gala Electric Casino (Cardiff, Wales)
  • Les Croupiers (Cardiff, Wales)
  • Grosvenor Casinos - Atlantic Wharf (Cardiff, Wales)
  • Gala Maybury Casino (Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Stanley Berkeley Casino - Edinburgh (Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Stanley Cascades Leith Casino (Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Gala Casino - Glasgow (Glasgow, Scotland)
  • Gala Riverboat Casino (Glasgow, Scotland)
  • Aspinalls (London, England)
  • Casino at the Empire Colony Club (London, England)
  • Ritz Club (London, England)

In addition to land-based casino, the UK also has gambling cruise ships available.

These include:

  • P&O Cruises - Arcadia (Southampton)
  • P&O Cruises - Artemis (Southampton)
  • P&O Cruises - Aurora (Southampton)
  • P&O Cruises - Ocean Village (Southampton)
  • P&O Cruises - Oceana (Southampton)
  • P&O Cruises - Oriana (Southampton)

Horse and Dog Racing in the United Kingdom

With just under 100 tracks, the UK has a wide selection of horse and greyhound tracks. These are located in such cites as Stirling, Ascot, Glasgow, London, Coventry, Brighton and Wolverhampton. The city of Manchester also has a dog track racino, where customers can bet on-site and also enjoy a selection of gaming machines.

UK Bingo

Bingo became popular in the United Kingdom after soldiers brought it back home following the conclusion of World War Two. Commercial bingo halls were established following the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960.

UK Bingo halls have suffered over the last few years, as an indoor smoking ban has been passed throughout the United Kingdom. Within three months of the ban being implemented, five Scottish bingo halls were forced to close, and an overall decline of 17 to 27% was expected.

Sports Betting in the United Kingdom

Sports betting has been around the United Kingdom for decades, and the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 legalized off-track bookmakers. Betting on horse and dog racing and football (soccer) is especially popular throughout the UK. Sportsbooks include Ladbrokes, Betfair and William Hill (the largest, with over 72 years of experience).

Lottery in the United Kingdom

The National Lottery is the largest available lottery in the UK. It was established under government license in 1993. Prior to that, lotteries were kept on a much smaller scale (made possible by a 1934 Act).

Popular games include Lotto, Thunderball and EuroMillions. Nine countries participate in the EuroMillions super lottery. The odds of winning the jackpot (getting all 6 numbers) are 1 in 13,983,816.

Twenty-eight percent of the revenues from the lottery go to Good Causes, a program which distributes money to charitable and social programs via grants. So far, billions of pounds have been raised for Good Causes.

An organization named Camelot is the licensed operator of the UK National Lottery. They have 26,000 retailers throughout the UK, and customers can also play online (over 2.7 million are registered online). In fact, the UK lottery is the most lucrative online lottery in the world.

In addition to the traditional lottery, scratchcards are also popular in the United Kingdom.

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