Gambling regulation guide

Gamble responsibly

UK gambling regulation guide - introduction

This guide aims to offer an introduction to some of the laws, regulations and codes that govern online betting and gambling services for UK customers. This can get complicated, so we've tried to avoid excessive detail and limit ourselves to providing introductory information along with links that may be helpful as starting points for further reading.

We're not legal experts, so please seek professional advice if you need it. Also, whilst we try to keep up to date, gambling-related regulations and laws can change at any time, so information summarised here may not be fully up to date. Ultimately, it remains your responsibility to make sure you're not breaking any laws. Please remember that our site is intended for UK residents only. For convenience and brevity, "gambling" and "gamble" in this guide mean any or all of betting, casino, poker, gaming, bingo and lotteries, except where otherwise stated.

1. As a UK resident, is it legal for me to gamble online?

Yes, subject to an exception that could theoretically apply for those living in Northern Ireland. According to the Gambling Commission, there are no laws that make it illegal or that try to prevent adult residents of Great Britain from gambling online from the comfort of their own homes. This assumes that you're gambling purely on your own behalf (you musn't place bets or gamble for other people, as this would make you an intermediary). The law doesn't prevent you from gambling online from other locations within Great Britain aside from your home, either. However, gambling online at work could easily get you fired.

2. How are online gambling sites regulated and licenced?

Gambling websites can be based within or outside Great Britain or Northern Ireland. Wherever they're based, they'll need to comply with the legislative requirements of the relevant jurisdiction. British laws don't apply to gambling sites that are based outside of Great Britain. Wherever they're based, all gambling sites should display information about where they're based and who they're licenced by.

It makes obvious sense to gamble only with operators that you feel you can trust and otherwise have a good degree of confidence in. Such comfort may come in varying degrees from who that operator is, where they're based and who they're licenced by.

3. How is gambling advertising controlled?

Online gambling sites based within Great Britain can advertise gambling to residents of Great Britain subject to complying with certain advertising codes of practice: the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP), the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Gambling Industry Code for socially responsible advertising.

Since September 2007, it has also been legal for certain other gambling operators to advertise within the UK. This applies to gambling operators that are based a) in other EEA countries, b) in Gibraltar and c) in other jurisdications that have been granted gambling "whitelisting" or "white list" status (Alderney, Isle of Man, Tasmania, Antigua and Barbuda). The EEA (European Economic Area) comprises of EU (European Union) member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and excluding Switzerland.

4. The gambling white-list

White-listed gambling locations are places outside of the EEA that are considered by the Government to have sufficiently rigorous licensing regimes that gambling operators located and licenced there are lawfully allowed to advertise gambling to UK customers as if they were also based in EEA states.

The Government's criteria for adding locations to the gambling white-list requires regulatory regimes that are effective in stopping children from gambling, protect vulnerable people, keep gambling fair, keep out crime, impose rules on money laundering and financial probity and that enforce compliance. Changes to the UK's white-list for the advertising of foreign gambling are usually confirmed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Members of the gambling white list are also subject to ongoing review to ensure their continued compliance with the UK's requirements.

5. What sites does include in its gambling directory listings?

We aim to list only gambling sites run by operators that meet the UK Government's requirements for lawful advertising in the UK, which includes sites based in the UK, the EEA and in white-listed gambling locations (see points 3 & 4 above). We can't and don't offer any guarantees that sites we feature will always meet these criteria, not least because changes can occur that are completely outside of our control (eg gambling operators moving location, white-listed locations changing, etc). We may also carry adverts generated by third parties (eg Google), where we can't control who appears in their ads. However, we will always try to review our own directory listings regularly to keep them as accurate and as up to date as we can. See our terms of use for our full disclaimer.

6. The Gambling Commission

Set up under the Gambling Act 2005, the Gambling Commission is responsible for regulating a wide range of gambling-related activity within Great Britain. This includes betting, casinos, bingo, lotteries, gaming machines and remote gambling (which includes online gambling). The Commission is also responsible for advising central and local Government on gambling-related matters and for helping to protect children and other potentially vulnerable people from being exploited or otherwise harmed by gambling. Spread betting and the National Lottery both fall outside the scope of the Gambling Commission's role and are instead covered by the FSA and the National Lottery Commission respectively.

7. The Department for Social Development, Northern Ireland

The DSD is a department of the Northern Ireland Executive that is tasked, amongst other responsibilities, with regulating both offline and online gambling activities.

8. The Financial Services Authority (FSA)

The FSA is responsible for regulating spread betting activities as part of a broader remit as the UK's financial services watchdog. Established by the Government, the FSA regulates a wide range of financial services providers and is responsible for protecting consumer rights. The FSA provides impartial information about many products and services (including spread betting) to help people understand their features and risks.

9. The National Lottery Commission

The National Lottery Commission is responsible by law for the licencing and regulation of the National Lottery (including draws and scratchcards) within the UK and the Isle of Man. Other lotteries in Great Britain come under the auspices of the Gambling Commission. The National Lottery is currently run by Camelot under a licence that ends in 2019. The Commission's is responsible for ensuring that the National Lottery is run correctly, that participants' interests are protected and for maximising Lottery proceeds.

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Gambling news

UK online gambling news

The following gambling news headlines refer to articles from the offers blog. Click on the title to visit our news section and read these and other UK betting and gambling news articles in full:

Responsible betting

Bet responsibly

Resources and advice features gambling sites for UK consumers aged 18+. We urge responsible attitudes and behaviour when gambling. Resources, help & info:

-'s responsible gambling guide;
- Gamble Aware - advice about gambling;
- GamCare - online, phone & counselling support;
- Gamblers Anonymous - fellowship-based help.