There are 6 different kinds of gambling as defined by The Gambling Act of 2005:
- Casinos - includes physical or land-based casinos as well as online casinos
- Gaming Machines - includes slot (or fruit) machines, digital card games and betting terminals
- Betting - includes physical betting facilities at sporting events such as horse or dog races, bookmakers (sports betting shops) and online betting
- Bingo - includes bingo halls and online bingo games
- Arcades - includes family and adult gaming centres
- Lotteries - includes sweepstakes, raffles and tombolas
Physical Casinos and Arcades (gaming/slot halls) in the United Kingdom
There are 131 casinos throughout the United Kingdom that offer a variety of table games including Blackjack, Roulette and different types of Poker including live games. They also have lots of slot machines, electronic table game machines and in the larger casinos you will often find restaurants, live shows and accommodation. The Gambling Act 2005 (as amended) has two different categories for casinos. Small casinos have a maximum of 80 gaming machines, a minimum gaming area of 500 m2 and a minimum non-gambling area of 250 m2. Large casinos have a maximum of 150 gaming machines, a minimum table gaming area of 1,000 m2 and a minimum non-gambling area of 500 m2. Most casinos have a dress code that, depending on their location, can range from smart/casual to shirt and tie/evening wear.
Some of the most popular cities with players are London, the nation's capital that has more than 35 casinos that range from multi-level casinos to smaller, historic venues that have an exclusive membership. Cardiff in Wales, Glasgow in Scotland, and in England, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Southampton.
The Most Popular Casinos are:
- The Hippodrome Casino - London
- Victoria Gate Casino - Leeds
- Aspers Casino - London
- Les Croupiers Casino - Cardiff
- Empire Casino - London
- The Grosvenor Casino - Southampton
- The Ritz Club - London
- The Grosvenor Casino - Glasgow
The 1,390 arcades (gaming/slot halls) located all over the United Kingdom, are divided into Adult gaming centres that only admit players aged 18 and over. Family entertainment centres that are open to all ages and provide video and simulation games, do not sell alcohol and have slot machines in a separate area that is for adults only. Local pubs can also have gaming machines provided they are located where players can be supervised.
The owners or companies who operate any of these types of premises must hold the correct Licence or Licences that have been issued by the Gambling Commission. The most popular slot games in the United Kingdom are manufactured by IGT, Microgaming, Playtech and NetEnt.
Online Casinos in the United Kingdom
In 1994 Microgaming and Cryptologic launched the first online casino and within a few years there were more than 200. In order to legalise the industry, in 2005 The Gambling Act was created, although it didn't come into force until 2007. By 2008 the UK Market Value was over £8.36 billion! To date The Gambling Commission has issued licences to more than 2,400 gambling sites.
888 Casino was founded in 1997 and has grown to become one of the biggest online casino operators in the United Kingdom under 888 Holdings PLC. It has a large collection of live dealer games, the most popular are Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat and Poker. Mr Green was established in 2007 and has a wide range of live dealer, slot and table games. By promoting responsible gambling, they have won many awards. Dream Vegas was founded in 2018 but has quickly become a popular online casino with players in the United Kingdom due to its range of live dealer, table games and slots.
The Live Dealer games at all of these online casinos are powered by Evolution Gaming and Mr Green also offers Live Dealer games by NetEnt. The most popular are Roulette, Lightning Roulette, Dream Catcher, Blackjack, Ultimate Texas Hold´Em, Caribbean Stud Poker, Infinite Blackjack and Monopoly Live.
The most popular games at online casinos are slots, Roulette, Blackjack, Poker, Craps and Baccarat. These games are provided by Playtech, Microgaming, NetEnt, Barcrest, Play´n GO, Big Time Gaming, Pragmatic Play, Reel Kingdom and Evolution Gaming.
Sports Betting in the United Kingdom
Sports Betting has been a part of the culture in the United Kingdom for decades. It was first legalised in 1960 and there are now more than 6,700 Betting Shops/Bookmakers, also known as “Bookies”, throughout the country. Originally you could place bets with “Bookies” who were physically at horse/dog tracks or sports venues as well as at your local Betting Shop/Bookmaker where you could also place bets on football matches. Long before online casinos existed, residents of the United Kingdom were able to make bets with their local “Bookie” via telephone.
Over the years Bookmakers expanded the number of sports and types of bets that you could make and you are now able to place bets on sporting events from around the world. You can even place bets on the weather, political outcomes and even predictions on alien invasions and the end of the world!!
The largest High Street Bookmakers in the United Kingdom are William Hill who have 2,200 shops, Ladbrokes have 1,800 shops, Betfred have 1,600 shops, Coral have 1,500 shops and Paddy Power has 660 shops. All of these venues have numerous tv screens which show the races and sporting events live.
The most popular online sports betting sites in the United Kingdom are bet365, William Hill, Betway, Paddy Power, Betfair, Sky Bet, 888 sport and Boyle Sports.
Bingo in the United Kingdom
Bingo is a really popular game in the United Kingdom and Bingo Halls can be found in most towns and cities. Bingo Halls started to become popular in the 1950s and 1960s and although the cash prizes and luxury holidays were sought after, people also enjoyed being able to socialise with friends and family. There are currently more than 640 Bingo Halls throughout the United Kingdom.
Unlike in the USA where 75 ball bingo is more popular, in the United Kingdom players play “90 ball bingo”. Each number has its own nickname which the person calling out the numbers will use. The majority are rhymes but some also require player participation, for example:
- Number 2 - One Little Duck - the players will all shout a single “quack”
- Number 10 - Boris´s den (name of current Prime Minister)
- Number 11 - Legs Eleven - the players will wolf whistle
- Number 13 - Unlucky for some
- Number 22 - Two Little Ducks - the players will all shout “quack quack”
- Number 26 - Pick and Mix
- Number 32 - Buckle my shoe
- Number 42 - Winnie the Pooh
- Number 78 - Heaven's gate
- Number 85 - Staying Alive
The game cards have 9 columns and 3 rows and are usually sold in strips of 6 which guarantees that all the numbers from 1 to 90 will appear and players can mark them off every time one is called. The game starts when the caller says “Eyes Down”. There are 4 different winning combinations and once one has been claimed the game continues until all four combinations have been won:
- Four corners - the 4 numbers closest to the corners have been marked off
- Line - all numbers in one of the horizontal lines have been marked off
- Two lines - all numbers in two horizontal lines have been marked off
- Full House - all 15 numbers on the ticket have been marked off
Although Covid-19 saw a decline in the industry, there are still numerous bingo halls throughout the United Kingdom, the most popular are operated by:
- Buzz Bingo
- Mecca Bingo
- Merkur Bingo
Bingo is often played at coffee clubs and family gatherings where everyone pays for a ticket and the total amount is split into 3 or 4 prizes depending how many winning combinations they have agreed to play.
In recent years online Bingo has increased in popularity. The fact that most sites also include a chat function means that players can continue to enjoy playing the game while socialising with fellow players, as this is an important aspect of the whole experience. Some online bingo websites also have games that feature live hosts and bigger prizes. These games are open to players from all over the country. The most popular bingo sites are:
- 888 Ladies
- Mecca Bingo
- Robin Hood Bingo
- Buzz Bingo
Some of the advantages of playing online is that games are available 24/7, you can get incentives such as free games, no deposit games and new or existing player bonuses. There is a much wider choice of games to play and you can interact with players from all over the World. Also, as the systems are electronic, you can be reassured that winning numbers will be marked automatically if you forget to mark one!
State Lotteries in the United Kingdom
The UK National Lottery is a state-franchised national lottery that started in 1994. It is regulated by the Gambling Commission and is currently operated by Camelot Group who were granted the licence in 1994, 2001 and 2007, however, from 2024 it will be operated by Allwyn Entertainment Ltd. All winners receive their prizes as a tax free lump sum which to date has resulted in the creation of over 6,300 millionaires.
The total income from ticket sales is split with 53% going to the prize fund, 25% to good causes, 12% to the UK Government as lottery duty, 4% to retailers as commission and the operator receives 5% with 4% covering operating costs and 1% being total profit. From April 2020 to March 2021, ticket sales totalled £8.4 billion. £4.9 billion was returned as prizes and £1.7 billion was given to good causes. The different lotteries are:
- Lotto - previously called the National Lottery - players choose 6 numbers between 1 and 59 and numbers are drawn on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
- Lotto Hotpicks - uses the numbers from the main draw but players choose the numbers and the number of drawn balls they want to match.
- Thunderball - players choose 5 main numbers from 1 to 39 and a “Thunderball” number from 1 to 14, numbers are drawn on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
- Set For Life - players choose 5 main numbers from 1 to 47 and one “Life Ball” from 1 to 10. However, winners of the top two prizes do not receive their winnings as a lump sum, instead the top prize is paid out monthly for 30 years and the second prize monthly for 1 year, draws are held on Mondays and Thursdays.
- EuroMillions - players choose 5 numbers between 1 and 50 and two numbers from 1 to 12, draws are held every Tuesday and Friday.
- EuroMillions Hotpicks - this game is similar to Lotto Hotpicks in that it uses the same draw, and players choose how many numbers they are going to match.
- UK Millionaire Maker - every EuroMillions ticket purchased in the UK has a unique code on it, if you match this code you win £1 million.
- Scratchcards - these are cards that can be purchased for different amounts and have a variety of prizes that can be won. Players need to scratch off the silver coating and if they reveal 3 matching symbols then they win a prize amount.
- Instant Win - these are online games such as scratchcards, dice rolling or symbol matching where players instantly win prizes.
Society Lotteries that operate in the United Kingdom and are licensed by the Gambling Commission are:
- The Health Lottery - players pick five numbers between 1 and 50 and draws take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. 20% of every ticket price is donated to health-related causes across Great Britain.
- People's Postcode Lottery - players pay a monthly subscription to enter the daily prize draws, there are also weekly street prizes and monthly Postcode Millions draws. Players do not choose numbers, as it is their postcode that is used. 32% of the ticket price goes to charity.
What Gambling Games do Residents of the United Kingdom prefer?
Approximately 30% of United Kingdom residents play the National Lottery which makes it the most popular. Other lotteries and scratchcards are played by 22% of the population. Sports betting and private betting has 12%, slot machines 4.2%, horse racing 4%, online slots 3.2%, Bingo 2.9%, Football pools 1.7% and casino games 1.5%. Other less popular gambling games are virtual gaming machines, dog races, poker at clubs and pubs, virtual dog and horse races and spread betting.
In regard to casino games, American Roulette seems to be the most popular with 846 tables in UK land casinos, there are 545 Blackjack tables, 240 Three Card Poker tables, 172 Punto Banco (Baccarat) tables, 15 Dice tables and 86 other types of tables. There are 3783 Electronic casino games, which includes slot machines, video poker and video roulette machines.
In the United Kingdom from April 2020 to March 2021 National Lottery sales totalled £8.4 billion. The Gross Gambling Yield was £6.9 billion. £4 billion was from online casino games, including £2.9 billion from slot machines, remote football betting totalled £1.2 billion, horse betting £856 million and online bingo £189 million. Residents of the United Kingdom definitely enjoy gambling.
The most popular slot games include Starburst by NetEnt, Age of the Gods by Playtech, Big Bass Bonanza by Real Kingdom, Immortal Romance by Microgaming, Book of Dead by Play´n GO, Gladiator by Playtech, Bonanza by Big Time Gaming, Mega Fortune by NetEnt, 9 Pots of Gold by Gameburger Studios, Game of Thrones by Microgaming, Lightning Roulette by Evolution Gaming and Gonzo´s Quest by NetEnt.
Regulation of Casinos and the Gambing Industry in the United Kingdom
Gambling in the United Kingdom is Legal for players aged 18 and over and is regulated under The Gambling Act 2005 (as amended) and the National Lottery Act 1993 (as amended). The Gambling Commission was set up in 2007 and it licences, regulates, advises and provides guidance to all individuals and businesses that offer gambling in Great Britain, including the National Lottery in the United Kingdom. As of 31st March 2021, The Gambling Commission has over 2,400 gambling operators in the market and have licenced more than 3,300 gambling activities.
One of the most important roles of the Gambling Commission is the regulation of all licence holders to make gambling safer. They have introduced rules about advertising, have banned players using credit cards to gamble and made sure that stricter age and identity checks are implemented to prevent under age gambling. At the beginning of 2022 the National Lottery operator had to pay a £3.15 million fine (to good causes) for 3 failures in its mobile app that negatively impacted consumers. Bonne Terre Limited, trading as Sky Betting and Gaming, were fined £1.17 million for sending promotional emails to customers who had self-excluded or opted out of receiving marketing. 888 UK Limited were fined £9.4 million for social responsibility failures including not effectively identifying players at risk of harm, not carrying out a customer interaction after a customer lost £37,000 in a 6 week period during Covid-19 and not proactively placing restrictions on accounts where social responsibility concerns were raised.
Bitcoin Casinos in the United Kingdom
Residents of the United Kingdom can gamble in bitcoin and other decentralised currencies, however, it is difficult for Bitcoin casinos to obtain a licence from the Gambling Commission as they must meet strict anti-money laundering requirements. Due to the anonymity of crypto-assets (cryptocurrencies) it is difficult for casinos that allow gambling with crypto-assets to be able to provide the necessary evidence that the Gambling Commission requires to ensure that the source of their funding is not from the proceeds of crime.
Although it is tempting to deposit your cryptocurrency with an online casino, in order to have player security, it is better to convert your cryptocurrency into GBP and use that to make a deposit at a reputable online casino that holds a Gambling Commission licence.
Contribution of Gambling Games to the Economy of the United Kingdom
In the year April 2019 to March 2020 the Total Gross Gambling Yield in Great Britain was £14.2 billion. £5.7 billion came from the Remote Betting, Bingo and Casino sector. From April 2020 to March 2021 the Total Gross Gambling Yield from Remote, Casino, Betting and Bingo was £6.9 billion. Covid-19 had an impact on the industry as many physical premises were forced to close temporarily due to the restrictions of the pandemic.
Casinos and other betting sites have to pay 15% taxes on their profits.
All gambling is tax free for players in the United Kingdom.
Self-exclusion and Gambling Addiction Prevention in the United Kingdom
Since 2018 the Gambling Commission required all licensed gambling businesses to participate in the GAMSTOP multi-operator self exclusion scheme. This is a free self-exclusion service that will help players who feel that they are becoming addicted to avoid online gambling. Once registered players will be prevented from using gambling websites and apps that are run by companies who are licensed by the Gambling Commission. Players can choose to be excluded for 6 months, 1 year or 5 years and can only cancel their self-exclusion once the minimum period has expired.
In addition, the Gambling Commission also insists that operators comply with consumer protection laws and treat customers in a fair, open and transparent way. All online casinos must have links to Gambling Support Groups such as BeGambleAware, the National Gambling Helpline and GamCare. They also require that operators give their customers the option to set deposit, bet and loss limits to their accounts. Customers can also set daily, weekly and monthly time limits to ensure that they aren't spending too much time gambling. Players wishing to block gambling websites from their devices can download GamBan.
Many online casinos have their own systems in place to help their customers play responsibly. Mr Green has won awards for their “Green Gaming” initiative which enables customers to set limits on their deposits and time and easily access support and advice from professionals.
Characteristics of the Gambling Industry in the United Kingdom
The Gambling industry in the United Kingdom is well regulated and monitored by the Gambling Commission to ensure that it is safe for users who are 18 years and older. Due to their strict licensing procedures and prompt responses to complaints, residents of the United Kingdom can play their favourite gambling games in safe and secure environments both online and in towns and cities.
The betting and gambling culture of the United Kingdom is well established and although things are steadily moving online, there are still plenty of vibrant and popular casinos, “bookies”, bingo halls and amusement arcades where players can enjoy gambling for fun.
Choice Casino offers you all of the information you need to be able to find legal land based and online casinos, bingo halls, bookmakers and arcades throughout the United Kingdom. It is easy to find those that are closest to your location, see when they are open and obtain their contact information.
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Choice Casino is not responsible for the services of physical or online gambling establishments listed on the website, as well as user reviews. For any complaint about online or face to face gaming, you must contact the establishment directly and follow their complaints procedure. You can also use a free online tool, Resolver, to get advice. If you are unsuccessful you can escalate your complaint to an Alternative Dispute Resolution provider, details of which can be found on the Gambling Commission website.