For years, the UK maintained one of the most progressive regulatory frameworks for online gaming in the world. But that changed in 2014.
The Gambling Act 2005 modernized regulations for the UK gaming industry. It created the UK Gambling Commission, a regulatory body with the authority to license and regulate gambling. The Gambling Commission began accepting applications for licenses on January 2, 2006, and began awarding them in September 2007.
The 2005 Act also gave the European Economic Area (EEA) and other "white listed" countries unfettered access to the UK market. White listed countries outside the EEA include: Alderney, Antigua and Barbuda, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, and Tasmania. The promotion of international online gambling in the UK from countries other than the UK, the EEA, and the “white list” is not allowed.
In addition to being able to operate from a white listed jurisdiction, online gaming operators were also able to enjoy the tax benefits of those jurisdictions as well.
But in December 2014, the UK implemented a new regulatory scheme that requires operators to obtain UK licenses and implement a 15% point of consumption tax. That means for all wagers placed in the UK, operators would have to pay a 15% tax on gross profits. This tax rate is in line with the current tax rate for online gaming operators licensed by the UK.
Previously, many of the big operators in the UK operated offshore, where they faced a tax of 1%.
The new 15% tax on gross profits has the potential to significantly eat into overall profits – and it's already changing the industry in ways that were expected and ways that were completely unexpected.
In the expected camp, offshore jurisdictions like the Isle of Man are looking for ways to give operators financial relief from the new tax. Some operators chose to withdraw from the UK market. In the unexpected camp, some operators are restructuring player loyalty programs to account for the new tax. Full Tilt Poker announced a 20% reduction in the rate at which rewards points are given to players. Full Tilt cited the new point of consumption tax as the prime reason for the change.
As of press time, last-ditch legal efforts were being made to repeal the tax. But if the tax remains in effect, it could reshape the industry.
Online gaming in the UK is defined as gambling in which people participate by using "remote communication such as the Internet, telephone, television, radio, and any other kind of electronic or other technology for facilitating communication." The UK’s objective with its licensing structure is to prevent problem gambling, ensure that online gambling is fair, and protect children and other vulnerable people from the harms of gambling.
Operators may locate their facilities in the country and offer all types of online gaming including poker, sports and race betting, casino games and online slots, abiding by the remote and gambling software technical standards as outlined by the Gambling Commission.
There are six types of online gambling operating licenses operators may apply for: a casino operating license, a bingo operating license, a general betting operating license, a pool betting operating license, a betting intermediary operating license or a lottery operating license. Operators who wish to operate more than one type need only apply for one betting license type.
To apply for an operating license, applicants must pay an application fee and an annual fee once the operating license is granted. Both the application fees and annual operating fees are based on the type of license and are on a sliding scale based on gross gambling yield.
According to the 2009/2010 Gambling Commission Industry Statistics, the number of licensed operators increased from 366 in 2009 to 432 in 2010. The Commission attributes the increase to society lottery operators obtaining licenses. The amount wagered on online gaming activities, excluding betting exchanges, was about £11 billion.
The Gambling Act 2005 includes many conditions concerning problem gambling and requires online gambling licensees to establish policies for promoting socially responsible gambling. These policies must be published and explain how the operator will contribute to the research into the prevention and treatment of problem gambling, to public education on the risks and safety of gambling, and to identification of problem gamblers. Operators must also clearly state on their website where players may seek help for problem gambling. Employers of online gambling operators must ensure their employees are properly trained in identifying problem gambling and have procedures in place for addressing customers on this matter. Online gambling operators must also give their players the ability to exclude themselves from their services and advertisers must comply with the advertising codes of practice to not promote irresponsible gambling behavior, including underage gambling.
226 United Kingdom sites support English. with United States Dollars. edit your preferences
UK Gambling Commission
Victoria Square House
United Kingdom B2 4BP
View All Gaming Jurisdictions
United Kingdom Jurisdiction News
EveryMatrix acquires UK gaming licenses
The iGaming software provider has acquired three licenses from the UK Gambling Commission in addition to its licenses from Malta and Curacao.
PlayStudios partners with Hippodrome to launch casino app in the U.K.
The California-based casino game developer's popular myVEGAS app is a free-to-play casino app that offers rewards from land-based casinos.
Betway launches new TV campaign for 2015/16 football season
The 'Bring the Game to Life' campaign airs across the U.K. and Ireland and consists of 30-second and 40-second spots.
Major UK fraud investigation leads to arrest
A major UK fraud and money-laundering investigation has allegedly resulted in the arrest of a 666Bet director.
UK government could consider tax on poker winnings
New study indicates poker is a game of skill and could prompt the UK government to introduce tax on poker winnings.
Gamblit Gaming granted United Kingdom Gambling Commission approval
Gamblit Gaming has received approval from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission for its Continuation Remote Operating License.
UK Gambling Commission awards licenses to Amaya, PokerStars and Full Tilt
The continuation license for PokerStars and Full Tilt was awarded by the UK Gambling Commission in recognition of the existing licenses held in the Isle of Man.
UK Gambling Act faces court challenge
The UK Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 is facing a high court challenge from Gibraltar, which has delayed its implementation.
UK bookmakers commit to voluntary ban on free money TV ads
British bookmakers have agreed to cease pre-9pm TV ads which offer free money for sign up offers.
Gibraltar launch High Court tax appeal
A legal challenge was launched in the courts by the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association against the UK's new gambling licensing regime
World Cup likely to prove a boon for online gambling companies
World Cup should provide bounty for UK betting and gambling companies as punters wage their bets.
Perspectives Weekly: U.K. taxes rates and U.S. online rumors
J Todd reports on an increase in taxes for online gaming companies that accept U.K. players but do not operate in the U.K. and more rumors of online poker legislation in the U.S.
UK middle class women are big online gambling spenders
British middle class women are actively gambling online in much higher numbers.
Perspectives Weekly: 888 hits Facebook
Online gambling news this week: 888 Holdings has announced a deal to bring real money gaming to Facebook in the United Kingdom. Also, industry news from the U.S. state of Massachusetts and the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Social and mobile gaming drives growth in UK and Germany
The UK and Germany are now the best markets for online gambling, driven by social and mobile gaming new research shows.
Perspectives Weekly: Gambling on Facebook and N.J. lawsuits
This week, J Todd discusses Facebook's real-money bingo app and what it could mean for affiliates. Also, New Jersey gets sued over sports betting, and Maryland abandons thoughts of online gambling.
Casino City Gang: Dolphin kicking edition
Casino City's Vin Narayanan and Aaron Todd discuss real-money online gambling launching on Facebook in the U.K., the NFL and other sports leagues suing New Jersey over sports betting and what it takes to live in Las Vegas. The also report on their Olympic wagers and make some more best bets on the Games.
Playtech Games give away over £1.2M to jackpot winners
Two progressive jackpots hit at Winner.com.
England: Bumper choice of odd betting odds
Brits tend to love bonkers bets and have plenty on offer this season with both the Jubilee and the Olympics inspiring them.
U.K. bingo players get 70 percent redeposit bonus on Sparkling Bingo
Sparkling Bingo is offering players a chance to win up to 70 percent redeposit bonus instead of the normal 50 percent in the last week of May.
UK: Football Association bans all staff from betting on soccer
FA introduce stiff new rules forbidding footballers from gambling on any league match.
UK gambling revenue rise expected
Revenue growth estimated to be 4.1 percent annually once 16 new casinos open in Britain.
Unibet signs agreement to acquire the Solfive Group and re-enter the french market
Unibet to acquire 100 per cent of shares of French company Solfive SAS, owner of SPS Betting France SAS.
UK: Racing levy deal looking hopeful
Deadline for parties to agree British horse racing levy deal is midnight tonight.
UK: Treasury to review changes to online gambling taxation
British Treasury will now review proposals for change to taxation rules on offshore online gambling companies.
UK: Govt plans offshore gambling crackdown
Bold proposal by British government to clamp down on offshore gambling companies targeting British gamblers and tax them.