When it comes to gambling, there are few countries in the world that have it part of the culture as much as the United Kingdom. With betting shops seemingly on every corner of every town large or small, placing a bet on a local sporting event seems to be just as popular as heading to a pub to have a pint and watching the game on TV. When online gambling came on the scene in the late 1990s, it is no surprise to find out that the UK was one of the countries to embrace this new delivery method, and become a leader in both the software space but also in building regulations for the industry.
Gambling Regulations in The UK
Now, while the industry in the UK seems quite progressive today, it wasn’t always the case. While sports betting was out ion the open and available wherever a player could walk into a betting shop, land-based casinos were for the longest time private clubs, reserved for the elite. These days, land-based casinos exist in the UK but still don’t have the same level of acceptance of the likes of Ladbrokes and William Hill.
The online gambling industry took the UK by storm just as it had other countries around the world, and at first, the government didn’t quite know how big it was going to be. Originally, the licenses that were granted to the land-based gambling shops was extended to include online wagering, which allowed these shops to create online presences. However, the outside influences of offshore sites soon started to eat into the revenues of the land-based companies, and the flexibility that these digital-only ventures had meant that they could offer a better spot for UK punters to get their online fix.
After some time evaluating the situation and looking to other countries for ideas, the UK was ready to do something about regulating the online gaming industry. The measured approach taken by the country meant that the regulations they tabled wouldn’t require as much tinkering as some of its European counterparts. The Gambling Act of 2005 created a regulatory body known as the UK Gambling Commission.
The Gambling Commissions mandate was clear: issues licenses to worthy sites with a goal of protecting UK players from rogue sites. The licensing process would be a lengthy, costly endeavor, which would weed out companies that could not afford to go through the whole process. The licensing would force operators and software providers to open up their books and their operational practices to be fully audited by the Commission, with the end result being a much safer environment for players. This Act also gave privileges to sites who had licenses from a UK territory and from other European jurisdictions, which meant that these companies did not have to go through the whole process again.
However, in 2014, the country revoked those terms and introduced the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014, which now forces companies taking UK bets to be licensed directly from the Gambling Commission. It also forced the UK companies taking online bets to pay the same 15% tax on profits that the offshore companies had been paying (sites like William Hill had taken refuge in countries like Gibraltar that only charged them a 1% tax rate before this legislation passed). This reshaped the industry once again, with many operators and software companies leaving the market as a result.
Online Casino Software Available in the UK
While the new regulations shuttered the industry in 2014, that doesn’t mean that UK players don’t have access to some of the best online casino games on the market. Many companies are licensed to offer their slots and Table Games to UK-facing companies, and with so many firms have gone public on the London Stock Exchange, this makes them even safer than ever before. IF you are looking for a place to play your favorite slots games, you will likely find games from the following suppliers:
On top of that, many companies like 888 have built their own software, giving you access to hundreds of great games to choose from.
Best Online Casinos for UK Players
There is a wide array of online betting sites available for UK residents. All of these sites give players easy banking options for depositing and withdrawing funds while offering games ranging from sports betting to casino and bingo. Where you play really comes down to what matters the most to you as a gambler. For some, it is the value provided by the bonuses and loyalty programs offered by a site, while others are looking for specific slots titles or a type of Table Game only offered by a few sites. Our team of reviewers looks at all the online gambling sites it can find that is open to players from the UK, and we have compiled a shortlist of sites we feel meet the standards we hold for our readers. Have a look at the sites below, all of which we are happy to recommend to you for your real-money gambling experience.