Gambling in the UK: The Laws and Regulations

One of the first things you should know as an online bingo player either residing within the UK or using a UK registered bingo site is that you are protected by UK laws and gambling regulations. They are specifically designed to ensure that all online gambling is fair, safe and targets only those who are legally allowed to gamble.  

UK Legislation an Overview

gambling-regulations-ukThe UK has one of the strongest and strictest sets of gambling legislation in comparison to any other country. This is great as it means every player, effectively, has a guardian angel looking out for them. Keeping them safe from rogue sites or unfair advertising and promotions.

But it also means that you need to understand how to play and gamble within the confines of the law and how you can use the law to protect you when you need. Whether you are a new or old player, we all need to keep on top of the gambling laws and regulations that rule how we play and gamble online.  Keep reading as the OBG team is going to take you through all this and more right here. We’ve broken all the complex laws and highlighted what you most need to know to ensure you get a genuinely better gaming experience.

Unlike the US (which is considered to be somewhat lagging behind with online gambling legislation) the UK is on top of their game. They have up to date gambling legislation that protects players whether they are sitting in a real-life casino or loading up their favourite site from the comfort of their sofa.

Not only do they have stitch laws, but they also have their very own, powerful body to enforce and create new laws and regulations when needed. They are called The UK Gambling Commission. Creating a separate government arm to control and regulate the market has largely helped the UK stay on top of new gambling technologies and playing habits.

Relevant gambling legislation that covers how we currently play in the UK dates back to 2005. However, this was by no means the first law governing gambling behaviour- that was in 1845. The 2005 Gambling Act defines gambling as betting, gaming or participating in a lottery and denotes different types of licensing required for different gambling activities both online and land-based. As Bingo involves both betting and gaming it is classed as online gambling.  

UK laws for Online Gambling: In a Nutshell

The 2005 Gambling Act:

The aims of the 2005 Gambling Act were clearly laid out as:

  1. preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime,
  2. ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, and
  3. Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

The Act went into great depth defining each type of gambling activity, introducing remote gambling as a term- meaning any gambling undertaken via phone, internet, TV or Radio-, creating the need for separate types of licensing for each type of gambling, establishing the UK Gambling Commission (we’re going to explain this in more detail below), giving a set list of offenses that would be punishable, regulating software use in remote gambling, giving advertising guidelines and setting out the protections that must be provided to vulnerable players.

Arguably, it is the most robust piece of gambling legislation to be found worldwide and goes to great lengths to ensure that all types of gambling are regulated and licensed under one new body (the UKGC) and that gambling operators act responsibility towards players. If gambling operators do not abide by the regulations set out in their license then they could potentially have it removed or sanctions imposed.

How Do Gambling Laws Affect Players?

For the most part, gambling laws and regulations protect you, the player. There are many ways they do this:

The Whitelist

There is one exception to these rules that you must know about. The UK has a whitelist of other countries where the licensing is deemed to be on par or acceptable to UK legislative standards. The countries named on the whitelist are allowed to operate within UK jurisdiction.  If you’re an experienced online gambler, you may have heard of other gambling commissions, such as Alderney or the Malta Gaming Authority. It is completely legal to play with a gambling company who is licensed by one of the names on the Whitelist. Here’s the full list:

What is the UK Gambling Commission?

bingo-uk-legislationThe UKGC was established in the 2005 Gambling Act. They are the body responsible for all gambling regulation in the UK. They have the power to enforce the letter of the law, inspect casino, issue and penalise or remove gambling licenses. They also play a strong role in creating new gambling guidelines and protections for players filling an advisory role for the Government on all gambling matters.

The 2014 Gambling Licensing and Advertising Act:

By 2014, it was felt that stronger legislation was needed. Something that specifically targeted the licensing and advertising practices of remote gambling operators that were registered outside of UK territories but still targeted UK customers. The idea is that from 2014 onwards they would also require a UKGC license to operate because they targeted UK players.

The 2014 Gambling Licensing and Advertising Act is the most recent piece of gambling legislation in the UK and does just that. It specifies that all remote gambling operators (online bingo sites and casinos) must be licensed to operate within the UK if they provide a service available in the UK. Previous to this law it was relatively easy and legal to target UK customers as an offshore company, without licensing meaning it was a lot harder to know when you were playing at a safe online casino/bingo site or a rouge one, operating without licensing and regulation.

On top of this, the act introduced a 15% tax on all profits, which provided a great payoff for the Government’s bank book for all the time and hard work that went into creating a safer gambling environment for UK players and running the UKGC.

FAQ: Gambling Legislation in the UK


Is online bingo legal in the UK?

Online bingo is legal within the UK as long as the operator has the correct license to operate and displays it.


How do I know if a website is compliant to UK laws?

To check if a gambling site is compliant with UK laws you need to locate the UKGC logo on the gambling website (most sites have this at the bottom of the homepage). Once you’ve found the logo, click on it and it should take you directly to the UKGC website and produce a report on the casino in question. You’ll be able to see the licencing type and details, what activities the site is allowed to undertake and any past sanctions issued by the UKGC. In the case that this does not work, you can go directly to the UKGC via this link and use the search function to input the name of the website and check for the licensing.


Are online casinos regulated in the UK?

All online casinos are regulated under UK gambling legislation since 2005. This includes online sites that operate from other countries but allow UK players.


Can I deposit in any UK casino?

You can deposit in any UK Casino that accepts you as a player once you’ve signed up. However, you may be asked for additional documents such as I.D and age verification when you become a casino member as it is required by law.


How can I withdraw my winnings?

The way you withdraw winnings and how long the process takes depends on where you play. All UK casinos should have withdrawal and deposit information pages on site. These will tell you exactly how long it takes them to process a withdrawal request (usually within 48-72 hours), what methods you can use to make both deposit and withdrawals, and how long it should take for the money to arrive in your bank account (or other payment service).

In most cases, to make a withdrawal you go to your casino account page and request to process a withdrawal, then complete the form. A member of staff with then process your request and issue the payment or get back to you if there are any issues.