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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.

Is sports betting legal in the UK?

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.

What odds format is used in the UK?

Fractional odds

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.

Top sports in the UK


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.

UK sports betting FAQs

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