In this review, we’re gonna shoot the breeze about the UK gambling scene. We’ll delve into the history of gaming in the country, discussing the legal status of various games, touch on the top online casinos in the UK, and share our method for picking out top-drawer casinos. We’ll chat about different payment systems and bonus programs on offer in online casinos and give a nod to sports betting, lotteries, and poker.
Best Online Casinos For United Kingdom People
Since online casinos have been all above board in the UK since 2005, there’s a whole slew of licensed online casinos.
The local UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) issues licenses and makes sure everyone plays by the rules, protecting the interests of the players. Besides local casinos, players from the UK can also have a bash at offshore online casinos operating without a UKGC license. Knowing the difference between a stand-up joint and a fly-by-night operation is vital. We’ll spill the beans on how to tell them apart in the relevant part of the article. For now, let’s get stuck into the best online casinos available to UK players:
Gambling has deep roots in the UK, going all the way back to the 11th century. However, it’s had its ups and downs, with many games either banned or restricted. One of the earliest restrictions was a law from good ol’ King Richard in 1190. According to this, the then-popular game of dice was banned among commoners. Only the toffs could play, provided they didn’t splurge more than 20 shillings a day.
In 1506, King Henry VIII laid down the law, practically outlawing all forms of gambling. This decree was amended and added to over the years, opening the door to some forms of gambling.
In 1569, Queen Elizabeth I kicked off the first full-scale lottery, with the top prize being a whopping 5,000 pounds sterling, along with immunity from arrest for minor offences for the winner. Lotteries then started popping up all over the UK, funding important social projects, like water supply in London under Charles I.
The first national lottery was held in 1694, also aimed at funding various state projects.
In 1823, national lotteries were banned due to frequent cases of rigging. This ban lasted until 1993. Horse racing has been a legit form of gambling for most of the UK’s history. This tradition was introduced in 1512 during the popular “Chester Cup” at the time.”
In 1845, the “Gambling Act” rolled out, which essentially put the kibosh on almost all kinds of commercial gambling. The “Betting Act” of 1853 threw more cold water on the already dampened gambling scene. From that point on, horse racing was the only legally kosher game in town, though it was a bit out of reach for most working-class folks.
Another killjoy was the “Street Betting Act” of 1906, which declared that any betting outside of bookies was a no-no.
The gambling scene started to lighten up only in the swinging sixties. In 1968, the “Gaming Act” came into force, legalizing a bunch of different games which could only be conducted under the proper licenses.
Another game-changer rolled out in 2005, setting up the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which took charge of licensing various brick-and-mortar and online games.
Legality and regulation of gambling
A Since 2005, gambling in the UK has been legit. According to this law, gambling games are classified into six categories:
Arcades – slots parlors where you can gamble for real money.
Casinos – both brick-and-mortar and online
Sports Betting – at brick-and-mortar bookies, special events, and on the web
Bingo – dedicated bingo halls, and online bingo
Lotteries – various sweepstakes, instant and classic lotteries
Gaming machines – traditional brick-and-mortar slots and betting terminals
So, both land-based and online operators were able to step into the light and become fully legit players in the market. At present, the UK boasts a heap of betting shops and online casinos, all operating under a UKGC license.
Choosing the best online casinos in UK
In this section, we’d like to chew the fat about a few key points to bear in mind before signing up at an online casino. First things first, check out the license and player reviews. Then, it’s worth taking a gander at the casino’s bonus policy and scanning the convenient payment systems. Finally, check out the customer service hours and how well the site is adapted for mobile devices.
Legality and Safety
Overall, British players have their pick of both homegrown online casinos and offshore joints. The local ones operate under the UKGC license, while the overseas ones work with gaming commissions like the MGA and Curacao. Having one of these licenses is your ticket to a fair and safe game.
Before you register, it’s also worth checking out player reviews. This not only gives you a read on how the casino treats its players but also helps you sidestep any bumps in the road. You can get the lowdown on sites like askgamblers.com and casino.guru.
Bonuses & Promotions
Various online casinos offer a smorgasbord of tempting bonuses, open to new players and regulars alike. As a result, before signing up, it’s worth exploring the bonus landscape so you know exactly what goodies you could bag. We put a lot of stock in this aspect, so our ratings only include establishments with a wide-ranging bonus program.
The most popular way to top up your bankroll is using a bank card. However, it’s crucial for the casino to offer handy alternatives, like e-wallets, prepaid card services, or various e-commerce services.
Another key point is the customer service schedule. In most major online casinos, the support team is on the clock 24/7. Language diversity could also be a plus, but for Brits, it’s pretty much a non-issue since nearly all online casinos support English.
Many players prefer to game from their smartphones or tablets, so we always recommend you check how well a site is adapted for mobile devices. This can save you from any gaming hiccups and also save you time.
Bonuses and promotions for UK players
Players from the UK have access to various types of bonuses. This includes welcome bonuses and regular bonus programs. Special shout-outs go to VIP systems and, of course, a variety of tournaments. Next up, we’ll dive into some examples of the types of bonuses you can find in UK online casinos.
The first thing that greets you right after registration is the welcome bonus. It’s not only a way to boost your deposit, but also a chance to bag some free spins. For instance, at Vbet Casino, you can bag a 100% match to your deposit and score 50 free spins.
Regular Player Bonuses
Once you’ve burned through the welcome bonus, a regular bonus program is up for grabs. This can dish out extra funds for subsequent deposits and keep the rewards coming. Over at Casino 888, regular players can grab these bonuses:
Win a Bonus – From 8 to 9 PM (GMT), each time the number 8 drops on the roulette wheel, you bag £8.
Win your Shares – By playing blackjack at the 888Xtra table, you can score a slice of a £750 prize pool.
Comp Points – Each bet earns you special points, which you can cash in for real money.
Races and Tournaments
After registering with a casino, all users can join special tournaments. You play slots from a selected list and earn points. The more points you rack up by the tournament’s end, the higher your rank, and the bigger the prizes. At Bets Casino, the following tournaments are currently in full swing:
Summer Big Wins – A tournament from provider Booongo, with a total prize pool of €90,000.
Monday Cashdays 30k – A weekly tournament from Playson, with a total prize pool of €30,000.
Summer Rush – A casino tournament dishing out 5,000 free spins.
Drops & Wins – A monthly tournament from Pragmatic Play, with a total prize pool of €1,000,000.
Vacation destination – A casino-run tournament with a total prize pool of 5,000 USDT.
Friday Funday 30k – Another weekly tournament from Playson, with a prize pool of €30,000.
Sports betting in UK
As already mentioned, sports betting is totally kosher in the UK. There’s a ton of brick-and-mortar bookies and betting shops around the country. Plus, there’s an even bigger array online. The biggest sites taking bets in the UK include bet365, Sky Bet, Vbet, William Hill, Ladbrokers, and others.
It’s worth noting that Brits are really into their sports. Loads of UK residents regularly participate in some form of sports activity. Team sports are particularly popular, attracting the lion’s share of bets. We’ve put together a shortlist of the top 5 most popular sports in the UK.
Football – Considering modern football was born in England in the mid-19th century, it’s no wonder that it’s the most popular game on British soil. The country boasts one of the world’s top Premier Leagues, featuring 20 of the UK’s best teams, including powerhouses like Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, and many more.
Cricket – Another national pastime, loads of Brits regularly play cricket. Its roots date back to the 17th century, when the basic rules of the game were set down, still in play today. Currently, there are 18 professional clubs in the UK, each named after their respective county. Every year they duke it out in the championship.
Rugby – A team sport that’s massively popular in the UK. There are two different types of rugby, each with its own rules, falling under Rugby Union and Rugby League respectively. Major national and international championships are regularly held in the UK, such as the Challenge Cup, Super League, and a host of semi-pro championships.
Badminton – The UK has its own Badminton Association of England, established way back in 1893. They’re responsible for fostering the sport within and beyond the country, overseeing the International Badminton Association. This sport is the most popular racket sport in the UK, regularly played on special courts and parks all over the country.
Tennis – This sport isn’t just a pastime for locals in the UK, it’s also a serious international discipline. One of the world’s biggest tournaments, Wimbledon, is held right in the UK and is one of the ‘Big Four’ tournaments worldwide. Alongside the US, French, and Australian Opens, it’s part of the Grand Slam tournament and ATP Tour.
Convenient payment systems
Since gambling is completely above board in the UK, you won’t have any issues topping up your account using bank methods. Except for credit card top-ups. In 2020, the government imposed restrictions on deposits at land-based and online casinos/bookies using credit cards. As a result, UKGC licensed establishments won’t take credit cards. Still, you can use debit cards, other bank methods, various e-wallets, prepaid card services, and much more. We’ll chat about some of the most popular payment systems now.
As of now, this is the most popular way to top up your account in the UK. That’s thanks to a combo of widespread card use and the relative simplicity of using them. Enter your card info, choose the amount you want to deposit, and you could be in the game in 15 minutes. Cashing out takes a bit longer, depending on your bank.
This is a fantastic alternative to bank transfers and card top-ups. This payment processor lets players dodge the need to enter their bank details when depositing at an online casino. Another plus is the instant speed of transactions, which is especially relevant for players who previously used direct bank transfers.
Another alternative is using various e-wallets. They not only help keep tabs on your gambling expenses but also sidestep some of the downsides of banking methods, like slow cash-outs and disclosing confidential data. In the UK, the most popular e-wallets are Skrill, Neteller, WebMoney, PayPal, and many others.
This well-known service offers the chance to buy prepaid cards. You can grab one online or at numerous land-based kiosks in stores. If you prefer shopping in person, you get a special PIN that you need to enter every time you make an online purchase or top up your casino account. Regular users can also set up a full-fledged e-wallet to store their prepaid card details.
A relatively new method that’s attracting more and more fans. This is mainly due to its convenience and speedy transaction times. Another advantage is relatively small fees that don’t depend on the transfer amount.
NOTIFY Cryptocurrency legislation in the UK is still being hammered out. However, at present, there’s no ban on crypto transactions. On the upside, they’re recognised as property, which is a definite plus point and means legal protection for owners.
But it’s worth noting that not all UK online casinos accept cryptocurrency. However, there are plenty of offshore establishments that let you top up your account using crypto.
Popular gambling providers in UK
Now, let’s chinwag about the casino game developers that are the bee’s knees in the UK. This includes both well-known foreign companies and English devs. To suss out what UK players are into, we’ve compiled a list of the hottest providers.
A renowned Aussie developer that hit the scene in 1997. Over its long stint, it hasn’t rolled out a ton of games, just around 150 slots. But what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality, both in terms of visuals and a variety of gaming mechanics. These two aspects have helped it win the trust of UK players.
One of the bigwig Swedish developers that’s been around since the mid-90s, like the previous provider. Its gaming arsenal includes hundreds of products, not just slots, but also various table and card games, as well as instant lotteries. It’s gained most popularity through its games with record-breaking jackpots that regularly pay out to online casino players.
One of the most popular providers worldwide that kicked off in 2014. But don’t let its youth fool you – it rapidly reached dizzy heights thanks to its experienced dev team. It successfully developed and implemented loads of gaming mechanics that eventually became iconic. Top-notch graphics and sound have secured its spot as a market leader.
Another young developer, based on the Isle of Man. Its games are known for their recognizable interface and specific mechanics. It mainly develops high volatility slots, which are right up the alley for high-risk players.
The youngest provider on our list, only a few years old. It’s based in Cardiff, Wales, and collaborates closely with Pragmatic Play. As a result, its games are top-drawer, living up to Pragmatic standards.
Land-based casinos in UK
Land-based casinos and gambling halls have been officially legal since 1960, provided they operate under a UKGC license. But since the UK is a big union that includes a whole heap of countries, it’s worth noting the local regulation of land-based casinos.
United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales)
Casinos are illegal, gambling halls are legal
Isle of Man
Non-commercial casinos are legal
Non-commercial casinos are legal
The size of the casino is strictly by the book, currently there are two types of casinos:
Small casinos – the customer area is at least 750 square meters, with up to 80 slots, and the biggest jackpot is 4000 quid.
Big casinos – the customer area is at least 1000 square meters, with up to 150 slots, and the biggest jackpot is 4000 quid.
There was also talk after 2005 of creating a “Super Casino”, spanning at least 5000 square meters, and housing up to 1250 slots. But at present, this proposal hasn’t been given the green light, so you won’t find any mammoth casinos in the UK.
There’s around 135 gambling joints in total, of which only 6 are considered big. There are also about 600 gaming halls operating in the country.
Now, we’d like to dish out the details on some of the UK’s most popular land-based casinos.
Aspers Casino Stratford – one of the most popular joints, also known as the Westfield Stratford City Casino. It’s in London and is quite the posh establishment. Due to the legal limits mentioned above, this casino’s gaming arsenal includes 150 slots and 40 tables for table and card games (blackjack, roulette, punto banco), as well as electronic roulette and baccarat. It also has its own poker room, where regular tournaments and cash games take place, plus a sports bar.
Alea Casino Glasgow – Scotland’s biggest casino, located in Glasgow. It’s run by the American company Caesar’s Entertainment and is its flagship in Scotland. Despite its large scale, in terms of gaming arsenal – it’s pretty much a run-of-the-mill “gaming club”. It houses about 35 slots, 40 terminals for electronic roulette, and about 15 tables for card and table games (blackjack, American roulette, poker). Like the previous casino, it has its own poker room with cash games and tournaments, plus a sports bar.
Lotteries and other gambling entertainment in UK
The UK has a load of lotteries of different scales. Formally, lotteries are commercial enterprises, and are not state-owned. Nevertheless, the biggest ones are run by Camelot Group, whose national lotteries are funded by the UK and Isle of Man governments.
Another company running big lotteries is 49’s LTD. It’s a subsidiary of the consortium of British bookmakers Satellite Information Services and, as a result, is a completely private company.
We’d like to delve into a few of the most popular types of lotteries that the two aforementioned companies run.
Lotto – the first modern national lottery, launched in 1994. Its drawings take place twice a week: on Wednesdays (8 p.m. local time) and Saturdays (9 p.m. local time). A ticket will set you back 2 quid per line. After buying a ticket, you’ve gotta pick 6 numbers from 1 to 59, or you can just hit the Lucky Dip, which does the picking for you.
The minimum jackpot amount depends on the drawing day. So, on Wednesday, it’s £2,000,000, while on Saturday, it’s a cool £3,800,000. The jackpot’s progressive, which means it rolls over up to 5 times, after which it trickles down to the lower prize categories. The biggest jackpot to date was a whopping £66,070,646, drawn on January 9, 2016.
In this lottery, there are 6 different prize categories:
1 to 45 057 474
5 + bonus ball
1 to 7 509 519
1 to 144 415
1 to 2180
1 to 97
1 to 10
49’s – a popular British lottery held by the company of the same name. Drawings take place twice a day: at 12:49 p.m. and 5:49 p.m. local time. This lottery’s quirk is that there’s no fixed ticket price, as players are betting on the outcome, not the game itself. You’ve got several types of games to choose from:
Picking up to 6 numbers from 1 to 49
Betting on whether the bonus ball is even or odd
Betting on whether the first ball drawn is even or odd
Betting on whether the total of the numbers drawn is above or below a certain number
Betting on the colors of the first and last balls
Betting on the number of the bonus ball
Since the winning amount depends directly on the bookmaker you choose, it can vary. However, if you go for the “classic” method of picking several specific numbers (up to 6), the more numbers you pick (all of which must match), the bigger your payout. There are 5 main prize categories.
1 to 1 906 884
1 to 211 876
1 to 18 424
1 to 1176
1 to 49
Another popular gamble in the UK is poker. It’s completely legal, both offline and online. You can play offline poker at any brick-and-mortar casino. Online poker is available in major poker rooms, such as PokerStars, 888poker, Partypoker, and many others.
Reliability and safety of online casinos in UK
The main purpose of establishing the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) was to set up clear legislation and oversight of operators, as well as to protect the interests of players. This means that playing in an online casino under this license is a safe bet, as you’re under reliable legal protection.
Things are a bit trickier with offshore online casinos, as UK laws don’t apply to them. But even then, you’ve got nothing to worry about, as foreign commissions, like Curacao and MGA, keep a close eye on their operators. If you run into any problems that you can’t sort out with the casino, you can always reach out to these gambling commissions. You can do this by email.
Full-fledged gambling became available in the UK in the early 1960s, and since then has gone through many key changes. Since 2005, virtually all forms of gambling have been legal and regulated in the country. Being in the UK, you are free to play in land-based casinos and specialty clubs, as well as bet on sports, buy lottery tickets, and of course, play in online casinos. At the same time, you are under the reliable protection of the local regulator UKGC.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any land-based casinos in the UK?
At the moment there are about 135 land-based casinos in the UK. But due to certain legal restrictions, most of them are quite small, even by European standards.
Are online casinos legal?
Online casinos are completely legal in the UK, provided they are licensed by the local regulator UKGC.
Is sports betting legal in the UK?
As with online casinos, you can bet on sports at both land-based bookmakers and their online variations. There are no restrictions on this.
Does the UK have a national lottery?
There are many different lotteries in the UK, the largest of which are national lotteries run by Citadel Group.
Does the UK have a gambling regulator?
Since 2005 in the UK there is a local regulator responsible for issuing licenses to various operators, as well as for control over their work. This is the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).