Gambling in the United Kingdom

Gambling in the United Kingdom

Gambling in the United Kingdom is regulated by the Gambling Commission on behalf of the government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) under the Gambling Act 2005. This Act of Parliament significantly updated the UK's gambling laws, including the introduction of a new structure of protections for children and vulnerable adults, as well as bringing the burgeoning Internet gaming sector within British regulation for the first time.

Gambling forms

Bingo and casinos

The game of Bingo was popularised in the armed forces in the Second World War and brought back to Britain after the end. The Betting and Gaming Act 1960 allowed commercial bingo halls to be set up, provided they were established as members-only clubs and had to get their take from membership fees and charges rather than as a percentage of the entry fees.

Casinos had a similar history, with requirement for licensing from the Gaming Board of Great Britain and for casinos to be members-only. The number of gaming machines in casinos was limited at 10.

In part due to the difficulty of enforcing this, the Gaming Act 1968 liberalised the law, by allowing true commercial casinos.

The 2005 Act paved the way for larger resort style casinos to be built, albeit in a controlled manner with one being built every few years until the Act is fully implemented. Many towns and cities bid to host one of these so-called "super casinos", which will be similar to those found in Las Vegas. On 30th January 2007, Manchester was announced as the winning bid and will be the location of the first 'super-casino'. The House of Lords urged on 29 March 2007 the Government to review plans for the massive "super-casino" in Manchester. Instead it supported plans for 16 smaller casinos, including ones in Solihull and Wolverhampton. []

Gaming machines have two categories depending upon the stakes and payouts involved. The former were limited to casinos, bingo halls and clubs, and the latter also permitted in pubs, cafes, arcades, etc.

Gambling on sports

Sports gambling has a long history in the United Kingdom, having been controlled for many decades, and more recently relaxed. The 1960 Act legalised off-course bookmakers. Pool betting on horses is a monopoly of the state-owned Tote.

There is a large market in the UK for gambling on competitive sports at bookmakers, particularly for horse, greyhound racing and association football (soccer). The latter also has an associated form of gambling known as the football pools, in which players win by correctly predicting the outcome of each week's matches.


The UK's largest lottery is known as the National Lottery, which was set up under government licence in 1993.

A statute of 1698 provided that in England lotteries were by default illegal unless specifically authorised by statute. An 1934 Act legalised small lotteries, which was further liberalised in 1956 and 1976. There could be no big national lottery until the Government established one, however.

Several games are run under this brand, including Lotto and Thunderball. As with other lotteries players choose a set of numbers, say 6 from 50, with six numbers then being drawn at random. Players win cash prizes depending on how many numbers they match.

The national lottery launched a pan-European "super-lottery", called EuroMillions in 2004. Currently 9 countries contribute.

In the UK the national lottery has so far raised several billions of pounds for Good Causes, a programme which distributes money via grants. 28% of lottery revenue goes towards the fund, along with all unclaimed prizes. Additionally, 12% goes to the state. The prize fund is 45% of revenue, with the remaining 15% going towards running costs and profits for the lottery organisers and ticket sellers.

The odds of specific combinations occurring in the UK national lottery are as follows:

6 Numbers 1 in 13,983,816
5 Numbers & Bonus Ball 1 in 2,330,636
5 Numbers 1 in 54,201
4 Numbers 1 in 1,032
3 Numbers 1 in 57
2 Numbers 1 in 8
1 Number 1 in 2


Scratchcards are a very popular form of gambling in the UK, due to their easy availability and cheap price. These are small pieces of card where an area has been covered by a substance that cannot be seen through, but can be scratched off. Under this area are concealed the items/pictures that must be 'found' in order to win.

Economic aspects

Income from gambling currently makes up a small part of the economy of the United Kingdom.


* [ Gambling Act details and updates]

ee also

*List of UK casinos

External links

* [ UK Gambling Commission]
* [ Berwin Leighton Paisner]

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