UK Online Gambling: Legal Casinos and Bookmakers

Written by:
Mike Fatouros
Fact checked by:
Alex Windsor
Updated:
February 28, 2024

United Kingdom Online Gambling

Gambling has been immensely popular in the UK since the late Middle Ages. Even the royalty, most notably King Charles II, used to partake in horse racing events, and the tracks they raced on are wildly popular even today.

Relative to other European countries, the United Kingdom had a somewhat different treatment toward casinos. Even though the UK was among the first to recognise and define games of luck and chance in the European continent, casinos were more akin to “clubs” where only members could play casino games.

Even as member clubs, casinos were still required a license to operate. Gambling was officially legalised by the Gaming Act of 1845, which was revised on multiple occasions over the next five decades; however, private casinos were illegal until 1960.

The long-standing governing body overseeing all casino operations throughout the last century was the Gaming Board of Great Britain. The Gaming Board has been replaced by a freshly-formed United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), which was established by the Gambling Act of 2005.

Until recently, the most popular form of gambling in the UK was greyhound racing. The advent of online casinos allowed slot machine enjoyers to gamble from home, and online slots are rapidly gaining popularity.

Sites like Win British, Betfair, All British Casino, and Spin Hill Casino are some of the best online casino sites that hold a license with UKGC. Some have dedicated sportsbook pages, and all of these online casino UK sites offer a safe, comfortable place to play the best online casino games.

Is Online Gambling Legal in the UK?

Online gambling has been legal in the United Kingdom for quite a while, but there was one relic of past legislation that bothered UK gamblers – “members only” restrictions. Until recently, only official casino members could play slots in that venue; people who obtained a membership still had to wait 24 hours before being officially accepted into the club.

The Gambling Act of 2005 has erased this restriction, and now virtually anyone can gamble in regular casinos. Due to the specific method by which online casino sites operate, they cannot allow non-members to gamble on their sites, which is the norm worldwide, not just in the United Kingdom.

The UKGC has passed the Act, and it recognises five forms of “remote” gambling, including betting via:

  1. The Internet
  2. Telephone
  3. Television
  4. Radio
  5. Any other type of electronic technology that facilitates remote communication

In other words, UK online casinos are treated as “remote” casinos and are bound by those regulations. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission is the one and only authority with the power to issue casino licenses in the UK.

Until 2012’s Draft Gambling Licensing & Advertising Bill, only domestic UK online casino operators were considered legal. Since then, foreign casino operators can obtain a license from the UKGC if they pass all the requirements.

So far, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission has issued over 3,300 licenses to about 2,500 UK online casinos. Surprisingly, a little over 175 of these companies are domestic UK firms.

UK’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport recently recognised the vast popularity of online slots and proposed that a stake limit should be imposed. This could bring online slots closer to their counterparts in land-based UK casinos, but the proposition is still in the consultation stage.

UK Online Casinos

There are thousands of UKGC-licensed online casino sites operating in the United Kingdom, but only a small number of them are UK-based casino companies.

The Gambling Commission has strict requirements for firms that wish to operate gambling venues in the UK, so even though most of them are offshore companies, they have passed rigorous trials and uphold the highest gambling standards, such as:

  • Gambling harm prevention
  • Quality slot machines sourced from reputable software developers
  • Policies that promote fair gameplay and cashouts while preventing underage gambling
  • Pro-player policies based on full transparency

Online casino sites in the UK are very popular among players from other countries as well due to their excellent slot game libraries and comprehensive selections of live casino games, as well as hosts of classic casino table games. Live casino games have been a staple in most UKGC-licensed online casino sites, although many new casinos don’t have any to offer.

In terms of bonuses, UK online casino sites follow a model similar to European, American, and Kiwi casinos:

  • Welcome bonus packages give free spins and extra credits to help newcomers off to a good start
  • Cashback bonuses serve as insurance against losing streaks
  • Reload deposit bonuses increase the value of new deposits
  • VIP programs grant various perks to account holders
  • Referral programs give free bonuses to players who bring new customers in

UK Sports Betting

Sports betting is significantly more popular than slot betting in the United Kingdom. According to the data sourced from the Edinburgh Reporter, there were over 7,300 active UK sportsbooks in 2019, but only about 500 of them were online sports betting sites.

Some of the most popular sportsbook websites operating in the UK are bet365, Unibet, Bet UK, 10Bet, and BetVictor. There are several reasons why online sports betting is taking over in the United Kingdom:

  1. Easy access to thousands of sports betting markets
  2. Greyhound racing, horse racing, and traditional sports live streams
  3. Generous promotions and bonuses
  4. A variety of operators with different offerings are but a click away from each other

Top UK online casinos also offer dedicated sportsbook pages. For example, All British Casino and Betfair are equally popular for their online slots. They are beloved for their extensive sports betting markets, varied parlay options, and great odds on mainstream sports events.

The main difference between online casinos in the UK and online sportsbooks is that the latter offers many sports-specific bonuses. For example, All British Casino has the “Football ACCA Boost” that is exclusive to football betting, while Spin Hill has a sports “Trophies” program that serves as a Sports-only system of achievements, each granting a different bonus.

UK Online Gambling At A Glance

🇬🇧 UK Online Gambling
StatusLegal
🏢Regulatory BodyUnited Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC)
📜iGaming LicensesOperating license, Personal Management License, Personal Functional License, Single Machine Permit, Premises License
📖Number of Online Sportsbooks500+
Top BrandsBet365, BetVictor, Unibet, William Hill, and Paddy Power
🎰Number of Online Casinos175+
Top BrandsWin British, Betfair, All British Casino, Spin Hill Casino, PlayOJO, and Viva Fortunes
💳Banking MethodsCredit & Debit Cards, E-wallets, Bank Transfer, PayPal, Pay By Phone, Boku
🖥️AccessibilityLand-based casinos, online, mobile
🎁Bonuses You Can ExpectWelcome Bonus, Reload Deposit bonus cash & free spins, Cashback bonuses

Overall, there are more than 675 online gambling sites for UK gamblers to enjoy. Each website offers something different, whether it be a range of online slots, comprehensive sports events coverage, generous bonuses, lucrative VIP programs, or all of the above.

For UK bettors who prefer gambling in land-based venues, there are more than 140 traditional casinos, 30 of which are in London. Retail sports betting through betting shops has been the traditional way UK punters place their bets, with thousands all over the country.

Bonuses & Promotions for Online Gambling in the UK

Online Gambling Bonuses

Online casinos offer bonuses and promotions that land-based casinos rarely (if ever) have; even if they do, such promotions are reserved for members who’ve reached a high VIP level.

In contrast, all new players can claim welcome bonus packages, which typically double, triple, or even quadruple the amount invested with the first deposit. Welcome bonuses are usually offered either for casino or sportsbook sections in gambling sites that have both.

Deposit-match bonuses are another form of “universal” bonus that both sportsbooks and online casinos typically offer to their account holders. Similar to welcome bonuses, these “reload” bonuses give a percentage of the deposit as extra casino cash.

Online casinos have a few specific bonuses that sportsbooks don’t, such as free spins, or promotions that allow players to enter tournaments by playing certain slot games.

On the other end, sportsbooks have several exclusive bonuses that you won’t find in casinos. Some of the most popular sports bonuses are odds boosters and insurance bets.

One of the most important things to have in mind while searching for the best online casino sites or online sportsbooks is knowing how and when to claim these offers. All online gambling venues change their bonus offers from time to time, not to mention that they have the right to introduce promo codes at their discretion. To ensure you’re always one step ahead, use our website to reach exclusive deals and find the latest information about UK casino & sports bonuses.

How Online Gambling in the UK Works

From a practical standpoint, UK betting sites do not differ much from European and U.S. gambling sites. Players must create an account (and verify it), choose the desired payment method & currency, and make a deposit unless the venue offers no-deposit bonuses. In the following sections, we’ll explain how every aspect of online UK casinos works.

Registration

Sign Up Page

Casino players must have an account to play slots and withdraw money. It contains the basic information, which usually involves the user’s name, date of birth, email, phone number, and country. By tapping “Join/Sign Up” on the casino’s site and providing said information, the player is now a registered member of the online casino.

The second stage of the registration process is account verification. Gambling sites can choose how this can be done, and these are some of the most typical options:

  1. Email verification
  2. Phone verification
  3. Document verification (printing)

Some venues allow registered users to make deposits to bet, but the vast majority of online gambling sites will only approve withdrawal requests from verified account holders.

Desktop/Mobile Play

Betfair Sports Betting

Most, if not all, online gambling sites support mobile play. UK casinos and sportsbooks have either optimised their websites for mobile devices or launched apps that run natively on Android and/or iOS devices.

While the platform may be different, functionalities remain the same. Online casinos and sportsbooks allow customers to make accounts, deposit funds, play, withdraw, and claim bonuses from their chosen platform. Check out our guides and reviews to learn more about which top-rated UK casinos and sportsbooks have apps and which have mobile-optimized sites.

Banking Methods

Banking Methods

Choosing the right banking method is crucial for gamblers. Buying chips and credits in a land-based casino’s cage only takes a few seconds while transferring funds online usually takes some time.

eWallets, debit, and prepaid cards are the preferred banking methods for most UK players. They are straightforward, relatively fast, and safe to use. More and more UK players are using e-wallets like PayPal or Apple Pay, especially account holders who play on mobile devices.

Online banking is an excellent option for players who are quick to deposit or withdraw their funds. There are no game-changing benefits to this method other than that it is available in virtually all online UK gambling sites.

Casino betting options

The standard repertoire of UK casino betting options includes slots, table games, and live dealer games:

  • Slot games can be broken down into video slots, progressive jackpot slots, bonus feature slots, Megaways slots, penny slots, and high-roller slots.
  • Table games are virtualised “traditional” games of card and dice, such as Blackjack, Poker, War, Baccarat, Sic Bo, and such. Roulette is also a remarkably popular table game.
  • Live dealer games are table games operated by a real human in real-time, which stands in stark contrast to “video” slots and table games that are run by computer software.

Sportsbook betting options

UK online sportsbooks are designed to mimic the functions of their retail shop counterparts. Players can gamble on dozens of sports events while having instant access to crucial information such as odds and available betting markets, which are automatically updated in real-time.

There are a few key benefits that online sportsbooks offer over land-based sportsbooks:

  • Bonuses, promotions, and exclusive deals.
  • A comprehensive database of all available live bets, current odds, and futures betting markets.
  • Streamlined bet builders that are easier to use than pen-and-paper slips.
  • Challenges (similar to casino tournaments, players place bets on specific sports, usually referring to Accumulator and Round-Robin bets).

Verification & Withdrawals

Only verified players can send withdrawal requests. After registering and verifying your profile, you will be prompted to select your withdrawal method and input your desired withdrawal amount.

Many casinos, both land-based and online gambling venues, impose daily, weekly, and monthly deposit & withdrawal limits. These limits may refer to the amount of withdrawn cash or the number of withdrawal requests.

Conversely, players can also set limits themselves if they believe they have a gambling problem. Check out our guides to learn more about how withdrawals work in the UK.

Support

Server bugs and errors can cause issues for online players. Whether it be something as minor as a casino game stuttering or something as major as not being able to withdraw money, gambling sites are obliged to support their patrons.

Some of the most common support options that all reputable UK gambling sites offer are:

  • Live chat – a real member of the casino’s support team answers the question. A good alternative is the “chatbot” feature that uses AI technology to recognise keywords in the query. Chatbots typically search the casino’s FAQ or Help Center database for the right answer, but they are not always correct.
  • FAQ – similar to our FAQs, casinos have this section as well. Concise, well-structured FAQs can be very useful.
  • Help Center – typically a page hosted off-site that contains more detailed articles about the topics and questions contained in FAQs.
  • Email & Ticketing System – gambling venues usually leave their emails so their customers can reach them if other support methods fail. When in doubt, type “support@” and add the casino’s name followed by “.com”. (e.g. support@casino.com).

Tips to Find Legit Online Gambling Sites in the UK

  • Only play in gambling sites that are licensed by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. Such gambling venues have been approved by the leading domestic authority and can be legally pursued in the United Kingdom.
  • Consider the wagering requirements of the bonuses UK casinos have to offer. For example, it is usually smarter to claim bonuses that award up to £100 if the rollover is 20x than promotions that promise up to £1,000 if you have to play through bonus funds 50 or more times.
  • If you’re a fan of both casino and sportsbook gambling, consider sites like All British Casino and Betfair – they have both casino and sports segments.
  • Check reviews and guides to see which UK gambling sites offer special bonuses via promo codes. Our website features the latest promotional codes and links for the best UK online casinos and bookmakers.

Searching for UK Gambling Promo Codes

Promo codes are exclusive deals online UK gambling sites offer for a limited time. Casinos sometimes release promo codes on their own websites or social media pages, but it is far more common for gambling venues to issue promo codes only to their partners.

Promotional codes or links can give players extra bonuses, such as free spins, bonus cash, or boosters on sports winnings. As partners of some of the UK’s most prominent online gambling sites, we offer you the latest promo codes for each month, so make sure to check out our reviews if you want to claim the most up-to-date promotional links.

FAQs

Is Gambling Legal in the UK?

Yes, gambling has been legal in the United Kingdom since 1845.

What is the minimum gambling age in the UK?

Only persons aged 18 and above can legally gamble in the United Kingdom.

What casino games can I play in the UK?

UK online casinos offer free slots, jackpot slots, megaways slots, video slots, and a barrage of table games.

Are there legal betting sites in the UK?

Yes, 3,368 online gambling are licensed by the UKGC, all of which accept UK players and the English pound.

How can I find a good online gambling site in the UK?

Prioritise licensed casinos while striving to find sites with generous bonuses, low wagering requirements, and a combination of sports and casino betting options.

Which are the best UK gambling sites for casino games and betting?

Win British, Betfair, All British Casino, Spin Hill Casino, and bet365 are the top UK online gambling sites with both casino and sportsbook.

Are there bonuses for gambling online in the UK?

Yes, most UK-licensed casinos offer at least several bonuses to their customers, including no deposit bonuses, welcome offers, cashback, and VIP rewards.

Is online gambling safe?

Yes, but only at UKGC-licensed websites. Preferably, choose casinos and sportsbooks based in the United Kingdom over the ones that simply hold a UKGC license (most of them are offshore companies).

Can I win real money gambling online in the UK?

Yes, all online casinos not established as casual casinos offer real money gambling opportunities. The same goes for online bookmakers that are officially licensed. If you put down some money, there is a good chance you will win some.

Mike has been reviewing, testing, and playing at sweepstakes casinos since they first appeared in the US. He is the person to follow and consult on everything sweepstakes casinos, from how to play, legal issues, and games analysis to making the most of each platform’s bonuses. If a new sweepstakes casino or sweeps coins bonus appears in the market, Mike will be the first to tell you about it.