UK Online Bookmakers

The UK is home to many of the world’s most famous names in sports betting and as such, the market is hugely competitive. What this means for the average punter is that there’s a huge variety of online bookmakers to choose from. Thankfully, with the market being heavily regulated, finding a safe, licensed online bookmaker isn’t quite as difficult as you might think.

The UK Online Gambling Regulator

Like all forms of gambling, the bookmaking/sports betting industry in the UK is regulated by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC).

Established following the enactment of the Gambling Act 2005, the UKGC is primarily responsible for the oversight of the gambling industry in the United Kingdom. This means that it has the power to issue licenses to any bookmaker that it considers a suitable candidate to run a gambling business.

The UKGC also has the power to penalize any UK bookmaker that is found to have breached the conditions of its gambling license. These penalties can be either formal warnings or financial sanctions. In extreme cases, the UKGC can suspend or revoke a license.

Any business that wants to offer sports betting either online or in a retail setting must apply to the UKGC for a license. This also includes businesses that want to run lotteries, arcades, casino gaming, and bingo.

Online sports betting laws in the United Kingdom

Sports betting is legal in the United Kingdom and has been for many decades. In fact, it was only briefly outlawed during and following the Second World War. However, this decision was soon reversed and since then the industry has grown from strength to strength.

Online gambling and sports betting was officially legislated for in the Gambling Act of 2005. The Act set out clear regulations for all forms of remote gambling. According to the Act, remote gambling cover any type of gambling using a device that is connected to the internet.

According to the Gambling Act 2005, there are six main forms of gambling in the UK.

Gambling businesses, both retail and online are all categorized into the following groups:

  • Arcades
  • Betting
  • Bingo
  • Casino
  • Lotteries
  • Gaming Machines

Any business that wants to offer any of the gambling services listed above MUST apply to the UKGC for a license to operate. This includes bookmakers and any gambling business that offers fixed-odds betting, pool betting. Betting intermediaries must also apply for licensing.

During the application, the UKGC puts each operator through a rigorous vetting process to ensure that it is a suitable and responsible company. When a license is issued, the UKGC will also put the gambling company through regular compliance checks. These are to ensure that the bookmaker is not breaching its license conditions.

Some of these conditions are as follows:

  • The correct implementation of anti-money laundering (AML) protocols
  • Ensuring that all sources of funds are verified as genuine
  • Protecting players from the harms of problem gambling
  • Promoting betting in a responsible manner

Bookmakers who have breached any of these conditions may face a financial penalty or have their license suspended or revoked.

How to spot a licensed UK online bookmaker

There are many online bookmakers that see the UK market as ripe for the picking, but not all are licensed or regulated by the UKGC. These are, of course, illegal bookmakers so it’s important that players make sure they are betting through a licensed gambling company.

Spotting one is quite simple as the UKGC requires that all online bookmakers display their license details on their websites or in their apps. This can usually be seen in the footer (bottom section) of an online bookmaker’s website or on the home screen of its mobile app.