How is online gambling regulated in the UK?

The UK gambling industry is very efficiently regulated to protect the interests of the public and ensure that gaming providers act responsibly. That said, almost all kinds of gambling are legal, including – of course – internet gaming such as online poker.

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Most gambling, apart from financial spread betting, is regulated by the Gambling Commission, which is an agency of the UK government. Online operators must be authorised to operate, meet codes of practice, and hold a licence granted by the Gambling Commission.

Regulated gambling creates consumer confidence

This regulatory framework has enabled the gaming and betting industry to flourish in the UK. It has given the public a high level of confidence in the industry, with nearly half the British population gambling in one way or another.

With the advent of online gambling, many of the traditional providers added sophisticated online betting and casino sites to their offer. These sites are based in the UK; only companies operating in the UK can obtain a licence from the Gambling Commission. Some foreign gambling jurisdictions are on a whitelist, however, as the UK regulator accepts that their regulatory standards are high. Operators on this whitelist, such as, can offer services such as online poker cash games to UK gamblers.

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Fair and open gaming

These standards ensure that gambling is fair and open and that it does not become a source of criminal behaviour or used to fund crime and disorder. Children and vulnerable persons must be protected and clients’ money must be held safely.

UK citizens aged 18 and over are free to gamble legally and safely online. The Gambling Commission looks after their consumer rights, encourages feedback from gamblers, and promotes dispute resolution. It is therefore important for players to check that the site they are about to use is regulated and approved. The website must display its British Gambling Commission licensed status with a link that you can follow to check its operator’s licence.

Social responsibility and responsible gambling are increasingly being monitored by the regulator, with the better sites nearly always having at least a nod in this direction. The Gambling Commission is developing a self-exclusion facility for gamblers who know they have a problem and want to self-exclude from online sites.