The United Kingdom has an up and down history with gambling that goes back hundreds of years.The Second World War saw a huge rise in gambling in the UK, and since then, Brits has enjoyed some of the most relaxed gambling laws around.That isn’t to say that gambling in Britain is more dangerous, in fact, thanks to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), protection of players is a high priority, but when compared to the plethora of countries in which gambling is illegal or at least restricted, the UK enjoys very open laws.This has continued over the last 20 or so years as the popularity online gambling has risen to the highest of heights, and British players can take advantage of a host of exciting online gambling opportunities.If you are a UK player who is new to online casino play, it can feel like a huge and complicated world to set foot into, but it doesn’t have to be that way.As always, we are here with a guide that will make everything for you, so if you’re interested in experiencing the iGaming world in the UK, we have all you need to know right here.
British Gaming Laws
Let’s start with the legal bit.For centuries, gambling was legal and prohibited sporadically in the UK, and this carried on all the way up to World War II.The end of the war saw gambling legalised in the country, mainly due to British soldiers bringing back a game that has become known as bingo, and it has stayed that way ever since.The biggest growth in the UK gambling industry prior to the online casino revolution occurred during the 1960s, when the first legal casino in the UK opened.This was swiftly followed by the introduction of off-course bookmakers, as well as the creation of the first bingo halls.The introduction of the National Lottery in 1993 saw many more citizens become interested in gambling, and when 1995 saw the online casino industry come to life, British players were more than ready!Those early online casinos are almost unrecognisable to those who are familiar with the graphical masterpieces that exist today, but at the time, we’d ever seen anything like it.With the UK’s first two supercasinos opening between 2011 and 2013, it’s clear that the country is still hungry for gambling opportunities, and the online casino industry reflects that, with thousands of casinos available for players to join online, as well as a fair few which are themed around all things British.
Brits and Gambling
Proof that the popularity of gambling in the UK hasn’t dwindles came in 2010, when a study of well over 7,000 UK citizens showed that over 70% of adults (16 or over) has gambled in some way during the previous year.While the lottery continues to be the most popular form of gambling in the country, but even without that nearly 60% of players gambled in some way. At the time, the number of players gambling online stood at nearly 11%, but that is expected to have gone up a huge amount since, as the iGaming industry has grown swiftly during the last decade.
How Easy is it for Brits to Gamble Online?
Those in the UK have it pretty easy when it comes to playing at online casinos as there are so many options available.Obviously, there are some international sites which do not (or at least should not) accept British players, but these are easy to spot.Any online casino that operates in the UK needs to have a license from the UKGC, if they do not, it is not legal for them to offer players the opportunity to play.If an online casino has a UKGC license, it will be clearly marked, but if you’re still unsure, the Commission have a list of all licensed casinos available on their website.
The UK Gambling Commission was formed as a result of the Gambling Act 2005, and took full powers in 2007 when it officially replaced the Gaming Board of Great Britain.The 2005 Act and the UKGC, were created to deal with the huge change in gambling that had occurred as a result of the rise of online casinos and betting sites.The Commission, which states its priorities as keeping crime out of gambling, protecting vulnerable and problem gamblers, and maintain sufficient transparency in the industry, has proven its power over the years, fining several gambling operators for what it considers to be unethical practices.Reasons for UKGC fines have included misleading affiliate advertising, failure to protect vulnerable gamblers, and allowing self-excluded players to continue playing, often at a great cost to players and those around them.With the UKGC at the reins, it’s clear that these fines will continue as the Commission continues to be loyal to its goals.
The reformation of the gambling laws carried with it much good news for players, but perhaps nothing as exciting as the fact that players no longer have to pay taxes on their winnings.This was not an easy law to enforce, and was considered unfair, because tax relief was not offered to losing bets.As a result, any winnings you pick up from an online casino while playing in the UK are entirely free of charge.
Payments and Withdrawals
There’s many different ways to make payments and withdraw money at online casinos, from card transactions, to e-wallets, as well as cheques and cryptocurrency.Not every payment method is available at every online casino, however, so it’s worth putting your research in up front to ensure that you sign up with a casino that will honour your chosen payment method.And casino based in the UK will allow spending in GBP, as will most international sites that are open to British players.This allows players to view all transactions in pounds, and also not have to worry about exchange rates when betting or withdrawing your wins.
Of course, when you are looking for an online casino to play at, whether it’s your first, or you’re an experienced iGaming veteran just looking for a change, you want to be able to ensure that you are your money will be protected at all times.Certification from the UKGC and other regulators tends to act as a guarantee that encryption software is used to ensure players’ details are kept safe, and all electronic games (live dealer games act as they would in a land-based casino) operate via a Random Number Generator (RNG) to make sure there is no unfair advantage for or against the player.All games will also have their Return-To-Player (RTP) percentage clearly marked. RTP is the opposite of the house edge, so, for example, if a game has a 98% return-to-player, that would mean the game would pay out £98 for every £100 on average. These statistics should not be taken as a guarantee though, they average out over thousands of games, so despite your chances being higher than they would be with a 97% RTP game, you could still win less.
Protection for Vulnerable Gamblers
It must be stated that, although the online gambling industry is a joy for many, it is a nightmare for some.Gambling addiction can be incredibly damaging, and it is important to know that there is help available if you ever feel like you’re gambling is getting out of control.The UKGC and the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board work together to research problem gambling to ensure that they can help players in the best way possible.Funds are also given to organisations which offer advice and help to problem gamblers. One of the most well-known is Gamcare, who offer support and free counselling to players who feel they may be losing control.If you are concerned about your own gambling habits or those of someone close to you, it’s important to speak about it, accept that there’s a problem, and contact those who can help you.It is also possible to self-exclude yourself voluntarily from all UK facing betting sites, it is a legal requirement that this service is offered and well-marked on sites.Self-exclusion means just that, you will not be able to access the casino for the length of time you have selected, and you will not receive marketing messages from them during the exclusion period, and will have to state that you want them to start again before you receive anything after it.It is also possible to limit the amount you can deposit each week or month at an online casino to ensure that you cannot overspend.All these services come with a 24-hour cooling off period when they are stopped, meaning that it isn’t possible to increase your spending limit then immediately start spending.The online casino industry in the UK is one of the safest in the world, and while it’s important to be aware of the dangers, and the help available if you are struggling, it can also be one of the most enjoyable.