Residents of the United Kingdom have the benefit of enjoying fairly relaxed and player-friendly rules and regulations when it comes to online gambling. In fact, almost all forms of gambling are legal online, and with the UK Gambling Commission – the government-backed regulatory body – in charge of issuing licenses, and ensuring gaming operators stick to the law, UK players can be rest assured that any casino allowed to accept UK players will be of high-quality, and reputable.
British Online Gambling Laws, Rules, and Regulations
Online gambling begun to really take off in 2005, when the British Government passed the Gambling Act of 2005. This act sought to regulate many forms of gaming, with an emphasis placed on online gambling. To ensure the laws of the act were followed by operators, the Government funded the formation of the UK Gambling Commission, an independent regulator that issues gambling licenses, and ensures casinos maintain a fair atmosphere for players to game in.
The Gambling Act of 2005 gives the Gambling Commission direct power to issue licenses, revoke licenses at ANY time, and impose financial penalties on operators, when deemed necessary. The act itself features three core areas, found below:
- Preventing gambling from becoming a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder, or being used to support crime
- Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way
- Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
It’s also worth noting that if an operator wants to accept UK players at their online casino, they must themselves hold a license with the UK Gambling Commission. Today, much of the work the UK Gambling Commission does falls in the Responsible Gambling niche, with more emphasis being placed on problem gamblers, and the support networks casinos put in place to protect these players. Various measures are now set out by the UK Gambling Commission as a requirement to gain a casino license, and all online casinos must offer players the ability to set deposit limits, reality checks, time-out periods, and self-exclusion.
Players from the United Kingdom have one of the best choices of payment around, as the United Kingdom’s reputation, and strict financial regulations make payment processors more accepting to processing gambling-related payments. UK players will be able to use all Debit/Credit cards (with the exception of American Express and some business cards), as well as a variety of e-wallets, including PayPal, Skrill, and Neteller.
Most casinos also offer UK players the chance to use bank-transfer, and cheque to fund an account, although in practicality, these options are rarely used. Some casinos – particularly mobile-only ones – will offer UK players the chance to ‘Pay by SMS’, which is basically like texting a premium rate phone number – except in this case, it’s a casino. The cost is added onto the player’s phone bill.
Software & Games
Just like casinos themselves, specific games are regulated in the United Kingdom, and software providers must hold a valid license with the UK Gambling Commission if they wish to offer their games to UK players (even through a registered online casino). While the UK actually has one of the best selection of games available, there are a number of restricted software providers who either haven’t met the requirements by the UK Gambling Commission, or who haven’t applied for a UK license. These software providers include Chartwell Software, Slotland, Rival, Real Time Gaming (RTG), and Top Game.
One of the main advantages UK players hold is that the British Government doesn’t consider gambling winnings to be taxable income. This means you don’t need to pay ANY tax on winnings you make – no matter how much you win – and this doesn’t only save you money, but it also saves you a lot of hassle, as players in countries where gambling winnings are taxable often have to fill out forms, and provide proof of their losses, if claiming them as a deductible.
This hasn’t, however, always been the case, and before 2001, gamblers were subject to tax, which was built into winnings paid out, as a 9% deductible. This never really affected online gambling, as it was before most casino websites were operating, but it allowed for faster online gambling growth, as gambling operators were able to keep more of their profits, and attract customers far more easily.
Plenty of old news reports exist online, detailing the changes that the gambling industry undertook when the UK taxation laws changed, but essentially, Gordon Brown – the Chancellor at the time – scrapped the current scheme, where bookmakers collected a 6.75% duty from customers… instead, opting to charge bookmakers and gambling operators a fixed 15% tax. The decision to change the taxation regulations proved success, and all round, UK players have fantastic flexibility when gambling online, both in terms of the game selection available to them, and the taxation laws that mean all gambling winnings are completely tax-free!