Online Betting in UK

UK flag

Sports betting has a long tradition in the UK, longer than in many other countries around the world. Some of the earliest betting ventures started up in the 1920s. The biggest sports betting sites in the UK have a tradition that dates back into the 1940s or 1960s. Let’s take a look at UK betting sites.

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Legality of sports betting in the UK

UK Gambling are based on two main laws:

  • The Gambling Act 2005
  • The Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Act 2014

Sports betting has been legal since 1963, though, but these two laws are the most updated versions of pre-existing laws, covering not just offline gambling but online gambling as well.

The main regulatory body is the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), who reviews and updates their regulations regularly.

Whilst it is not necessary to know all the details of the gambling laws, it is important to stay up to date. For instance, in 2020 it was decided that UK betting sites were no longer allowed to accept credit cards or credit-card-funded as payment methods. The Gambling Commission decided that credit cards posed too much of a temptation and furthered gambling-related debts.

Governing bodies

As already mentioned, the UK Gambling Commission is the main governing body for all things related to betting and gambling online and offline. But in the wider UK and in Ireland, more regulatory bodies exist. These include:

  • The Alderney Gambling Control Commission
  • Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission
  • Ireland (Department of Justice)

All of them are able to issue gambling licenses to casino game developers, online casinos and betting sites and operators to allow them to provide their betting and gambling services legally.

If a UK betting site does not hold a UKGC license, however, the site will not be allowed to offer their services to UK residents.

All UK and Irish gambling jurisdictions are strict and have an excellent reputation, which means betting sites with these licenses are well-regulated and safe.

How does sports betting differ in the UK from other regions?

Sports betting in the UK started in betting shops that were usually located on the high streets of any smaller or bigger city around the UK. Among them are BetVictor, Coral, BetFred and William Hill. To this day, you will find many of them on UK high streets, often right beside each other.

Eventually, they all made the jump online, where they also incorporated other gambling products such as casino games, live casino or poker clients.

Whilst betting shops exist in other countries as well, their sheer number in the UK is higher than you would find anywhere else in Europe.

Another main difference now is the already mentioned inability to fund your betting with credit cards in the UK. This is true for betting shops as well as online. The UKGC is undoubtedly the strictest gambling jurisdiction in the UK and in Europe, constantly updating their regulations and reviewing their licensees, issues fines and penalties on a regular basis.

Interestingly, UK betting sites are among very few other that allow PayPal as a payment method. PayPal has largely withdrawn from gambling related transactions, but in the UK you can still (or perhaps again) use PayPal as a payment method. However, the funding source cannot be a credit card.

When it comes to sports betting itself, UK punters have a clear preference for footie (football or soccer), horse racing and greyhound racing. Consequently, UK betting sites put a strong focus on these three sports in the betting offers as well.

Best UK Betting Sites

UK residents will undoubtedly be best served by home-grown betting sites, simply because they focus on UK markets and cater to the preferences of UK punters.

These are:

  • Bet365
  • William Hill
  • Coral
  • BetFred
  • BetVictor

Excellent options outside of these are:

  • Betfair (for its exchange)
  • Betway (excellent in-play betting)
  • LeoVegas (great mobile betting)

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