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Gambling in the United Kingdom

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Gambling in the United Kingdom has a very long tradition. The favorite fan activity goes back centuries, even before the creation of the first modern Anglo-Saxon communities and kingdoms. Roman, Viking, and Norman conquerors enjoyed gambling their wealth and possessions, which they brought along during their campaigns of the British Isles. Nowadays it is more popular than ever, most notably because of the widespread influence of online gambling.

If you wish to learn more about gambling in general in the United Kingdom, you have the right article in front of you. Keep reading to learn everything there is about the current state of gambling in the United Kingdom, and what kind of games and practices Brits enjoy the most.

General Overview

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All gambling operations in the UK are regulated by the Gambling Commission, which the part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. The Gambling Act of 2005 was the last major act for gambling, still in power to this day. Back then, all gambling laws were updated and modernized, including various limitations and protections for minors, vulnerable adults, and internet gambling.

Horse Racing

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By far the largest, most popular, and most profitable form of gambling is horse race betting, where players bet on the certain outcome of a horse race. A lot of money is involved in the sport even without the gambling, but gambling has brought it to a whole new level. The earliest recorded races took place in 1539, in Chester. Betting on these races started soon after. The most popular races to bet on are the British Classic Races. These are 2,000 Guineas Stakes, 1,000 Guineas Stakes, Epsom Oaks, Epsom Derby, and St Leger Stakes. The first took happened in 1776, and ever since the whole sport and the associated gambling started to expand.

Online Gambling

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Exactly like everywhere else in the world, online gambling has become extremely widespread and prominent over the last decade. There are countless online gambling services that offer all sorts of games to the players, including blackjack, poker, roulette, and slots. The best online casinos accept all sorts of payments, and those like STS allow PayPal payments which makes things much easier and more convenient. Those who prefer the comfort of their home opt to gamble and bet through their computers and mobile are responsible for such a rapid development of this kind of gambling. Doing it online makes it more accessible, easier, and convenient, while also providing high levels of security and transparency. The total online gambling population of the UK is thought to be more than 2.5 million customers.

Casinos and Bingos

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Casino and Bingo betting became popular in the UK following World War II. In 1960, the Betting and Gaming Act regulated everything and allowed for commercial bingo halls to become a thing. The first British casino is thought to have been opened in 1961, the Casino Club Port Talbot in Wales. During the 1960s, similar places opened in London and all over the country. Then, the new Gaming Act of 1968 opened the market by liberalizing casino gambling, which is when things really started to develop. Back then, gambling was growing rapidly all over the world and the UK was no different. In 2005, the already mentioned Gambling Act paved the way for large resort-type casino hotels to be built around the country. These large scale casinos are very similar to the world-famous ones in Las Vegas, and all major British cities applied for a license to build one.

Sports Betting

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It is no secret that the United Kingdom is the home to some of the biggest sports fans in the world. Mostly following Football, Cricket and Rugby, the fans literally live to cheer for their favorite team. This has always been present in the UK and it is one of the things the people are famous for. Naturally then, such a love for sports can also be viewed through the unbelievable amounts of sports betting present in the country. The tradition started decades ago, first regulated by the 1960 act that legalized bookmakers. Nowadays, there are thousands of places where one can bet on the outcome of football matches, for example, known as football pools. These establishments also allow horse racing and greyhound racing bets. Online sports betting is estimated to be worth nearly £700 million, and it has had a steady annual growth ever since 2009. Although many people are worried because of the ease of access and potential gambling issues among the underage youth, gambling is widely advertised on daytime television and around the cities.

Lotteries and Scratch Cards

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There are a few major lotteries in the UK, like the National Lottery, Health Lottery and Postcode Lottery. In 1698, any lottery not authorized by a statue was illegal, while the 1934 act legalized small lotteries, further making them accessible in 1956 and 1976. Millions of Brits try their luck in lotteries all the time. The largest winnings are staggering, including the £170.2 million EuroMillions jackpot on October 8, 2019. The biggest Lotto win happened in 1996 when a £42 million prize was split three ways. In January of 2016, two anonymous winners split a £66 million jackpot.


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Until 2001, the betting tax was 6.75%. After 2001, it was replaced by a 15% tax on gross profits from the winnings. The betting industry of the UK employs over 40,000 people, and it has an economic footprint of more than £5 billion, and there is no show of slowing down in the near future.

Closing Remarks

What started with horse racing centuries ago grew into one of the largest branches of the entertainment industry in the modern United Kingdom. People of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and Northern Ireland love spending some of their money on multiple kinds of gambling. Depending on their interests, they choose different forms of betting and gambling trying to relax, have some fun, and make some additional pounds on the side. There has never been anything wrong with doing it, as long as it does not hurt your other activities and relationships. Within limits, gambling can be a very exciting and interesting activity, so why not give it a shot yourself when you next visit this beautiful country?