United Kingdom online sports betting laws
The United Kingdom is a nation that loves sport – and loves betting on sport. British people wager more per head than any other nation in the world. Exports like the English Premier League are worth billions of dollars, while the appetite for sports from across the pond is massive, with the NFL and NBA regular season matches held in the UK now a fixture of the British sporting calendar.
Betting on sports in the UK has a long history and is completely legal with licensed operators.
The links between sports and gambling were forged many hundreds of years ago, but it was only in the second half of the 20th century that the legal betting industry began to grow steadily. One significant milestone was reached in 1961 with the opening of the first licensed betting shops.
There are still many such premises in high streets across the UK, even with many betting operators now focusing much of their efforts on the digital space. The UK gambling industry was significantly liberalized further by the Gambling Act of 2005, which permitted online gambling and allowed betting operators to run advertisements.
Sports betting in the UK is administered and regulated by the Gambling Commission. This is the body who, along with local authorities, has the power to issue and oversee gambling licenses and ensure compliance with the 2005 Act. The commission can investigate suspected breaches of the Act and has the power to impose fines, revoke licenses and prosecute possible offenders.
To obtain a license, a company must ensure that gambling is not a source of crime or disorder, is conducted in a fair and open way and does not exploit children or other vulnerable people.
Responsible gambling is at the heart of the provision of services by UK betting sites. In recent years there has been a focus on ensuring the industry operates in an ethical manner and does not encourage excessive gambling.
Operators of the best betting sites in the UK have worked to self-regulate, introducing measures such as self-exclusion, deposit limits and activity alerts for customers. Nevertheless, the UK remains a territory with an extremely wide availability of betting providers, and online sports betting in the UK is as popular as ever. The long history of the industry and the widespread access to UK betting sites means that this is one of the safest places in the world to enjoy online sports betting.
Most online betting in the UK is still conducted using traditional fractional odds. UK betting sites list their odds in the same way that has been used for centuries, in contrast to the decimal and American odds that are used elsewhere in the world.
Let’s say you want to back Manchester United to win the Premier League and see that their odds are 4/1. This means that if you wager $100 at that price and Manchester United win the title, you’ll win four times that amount, plus your stake, for a total return of $500. This is in contrast to the way such a bet is expressed using the other two odds formats.
If you wanted the same bet in Europe or Australasia the odds you would see would be 5.0 – essentially the ‘4’ and ‘1’ from 4/1 added together.
In the US, the odds would be shown as +400. You would win $400 for every $100, plus your stake, for that total return of $500.
You can use our odds calculator tool here to compare and convert all odds formats.
Football, soccer in the US, is the national game in all the nations of the UK. Dedication to your chosen team is a life-defining experience for millions of devoted fans. England is the country that gave soccer to the world, and it also gave it the Premier League, the most popular of all professional domestic leagues.
Hundreds of millions of people across the globe follow the biggest English teams in action. And the sums generated by football betting on the Premier League are astronomical. An estimated $1.37 billion dollars is wagered worldwide each season on matches in England’s top division.
Soccer also tops the league for sports betting in the UK by a long way, with nearly 50 per cent of the money wagered annually placed on the beautiful game.
The history of horse racing in the UK goes back to Roman times, while the rules of the sport were drawn up by the Jockey Club when it formed in 1750. Fast forward to the 20th century, and more than a quarter of all the money wagered at UK betting sites is on horse racing.
With more than 60 racecourses, including two in Northern Ireland, racing takes place all year round and is the second biggest spectator sport in the country after soccer. Some of the world’s most famous races and festivals, such as the Grand National, Royal Ascot, Cheltenham and Glorious Goodwood, are staged here.
Tennis has a long and proud history on the sporting landscape of the UK. Because of its popularity and the year-long calendar of tournaments, tennis is the third most wagered on sport on UK betting sites.
The rules of tennis were drawn up in England in the 1870s and it was in 1877 that the Wimbledon Championship was first held at the All-England Club. The tournament continues to this day as one of the four ‘majors’ on the tennis calendar. Tennis lends itself to a huge variety of wagering opportunities and the best betting sites in the UK offer numerous markets on Wimbledon and other events throughout the year.
Golf has a long and proud history connected to the UK, with the modern game first developed and established in Scotland in the late Middle Ages. While the Scots remain particularly fond of golf, it is extremely popular with players and fans in all corners of the UK, with an estimated 3,000 golf courses across the UK in total.
The British Open Championship, known as ‘The Open’, first played at Prestwick in 1860, is still one of the four Majors contested each year and is considered the most prestigious by many fans. With events around the calendar, the game of golf is one of the most popular for online sports betting in the UK.
Rugby union has its origins in the UK. Legend has it that William Webb Ellis, a student at Rugby School, invented the game when he picked up the ball and ran during an 1823 soccer match. The sport grew massively during the 19th century and is now played all over the world. It is popular in all nations of the UK, which has some of the leading names in club rugby as well as national sides with large and devoted followings. England, Wales and Scotland are all ranked comfortably inside the top 10 of the World Rugby rankings.
Betting sites in the UK offer extensive odds on club matches and international events such as the Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup.
Yes, it is. There are many betting sites in the UK that are licensed to offer the facility for sports betting. Even the oldest names in bookmaking have embraced the digital age and now make it quick and easy for people in the UK who want to bet on sports online.
The best betting sites in the UK have invested millions of dollars in the development of betting apps. Look for apps with excellent functionality that offer competitive odds and offers, allow you to navigate your way around the odds easily and place your chosen bet quickly.
Sports betting is so popular in the UK that there is a long list of betting sites based in the country. It’s advisable to wager with a well-respected name that offers good value – always compare odds to see who has the best prices. Many also offer bonuses for new and existing customers.
Absolutely. The competition for new clients is always intense, especially around high-profile sporting events. UK betting sites tend to offer free bets to new customers who sign up, though many will also give free bets to regular customers as a bonus for their loyalty.
Yes. Most old and new betting sites in the UK will want to make new customers feel welcome and loyal. One of the best methods is to offer a bonus to new customers, in the form of a free bet or an amount that boosts your bankroll when you start betting.
The list of sports that you can enjoy with online sports betting in the UK is almost endless. You will find extensive markets on all the major domestic and global sports, including those in the US. The best betting sites in the UK will also offer markets on niche sports.