UK Online Casinos
From the origins
Gambling has evolved significantly in the United Kingdom over the past two centuries. In 1845, officials authored the Gaming Act which categorized different wagering behaviors as either legal or illegal. In the early 1930s, the Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting officially defined the word "bet" and what that practice entails. In 1963, the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act concretely outlined UK laws pertaining to games of chance. Throughout the 1960s, these laws were molded and massaged until finally, at the turn of the century, the Gambling Act of 2005 was born. This piece of legislature governs current gambling practices in England, Wales, and Scotland.
The Gambling Act of 2005
The intent of the Gambling Act of 2005 was to definitively regulate gambling practices so that they are fair to participants, free from crime, and harmless to children and other vulnerable parties. With the passage of the act came the controlled opening of brick-and-mortar casinos in select cities throughout the territory. Today, casinos and betting shops are peppered by the hundreds across the UK, giving easy gambling access to all citizens of legal age (read the UK betting terminals and related problems).
UK Gambling Commission: In Charge
Gaming in England, Wales, and Scotland is overseen by the territory's Gambling Commission. This organization exercises authority over everything but the national lottery and spread betting. The Commission has the power to grant a license to any group seeking to operate a wagering facility in the UK. This includes one of the most exciting forms of gambling available today, online betting. Before a group can legally advertise online services in the territory, however, its home country must be included on the UK White List.
The White List
In adherence to the rules of the Gambling Act of 2005, the Commission forbids countries outside of the European Economic Area, or EEA, to advertise their wagering activities in the UK. The EEA includes the nations of the European Union as well as Iceland and Norway. There is, however, a caveat to the Commission's rule: territories judged to have wagering regulations similar to those of the UK can also legally to advertise their services there. The list of countries comprising this group is called the "White List."
The White List includes all nations of the EEA, Gibraltar, Tasmania, the Isle of Man, Antigua, and Alderney. To be on the White List, a territory must prove that it adheres to the ideals of the Gambling Act of 2005. In other words, that territory's practices must be fair, free of crime, and safe for children and vulnerable persons of all ages. Entities who advertise in the UK are required to post all rules in English, provide sufficient time for winners to claim their prizes, and establish a positive relationship with local authorities in the event that gambling-related behavior problems should arise.
A Loophole in White List Policy
As mentioned above, all countries in the EEA are on the White List. Although some of these countries do not necessarily meet the Commission's requirements, they are grandfathered onto the list due to their affiliation with the EEA. This loophole is due to trade agreements between the nations of the EU that require equal advertising privileges for all. Gambling opponents have assaulted this loophole with harsh criticism.
Online Gaming: A UK Luxury
Citizens of the UK enjoy a luxury that America is just beginning to realize: gaming via the Internet. As long as an online gambling site is affiliated with the White List, UK citizens can legally participate in it. This regulation has opened numerous doors for gambling connoisseurs throughout England, Wales, and Scotland.
Superpowers Claim the Most Business
Three companies dominate the online betting world in the UK: William Hill, Ladbrokes, and Paddy Power. William Hill sits at the top of the heap in terms of online brand search statistics. Three other companies trail close behind in Internet search rankings: Bet 365,Betfair, and Betfred. The typical UK online gambler visits one or more of these sites to make bets and get statistics.
Mobile Devices Serve Those on the Go
UK gamblers lead busy lives. Many of them consequently prefer the ease and convenience of mobile betting. Mobile devices like smart phones and tablet computers have gained momentum in the past few years and are poised to surpass traditional computers in popularity soon. A recent Mintel/GMI survey reported that 29 percent of gamblers use a mobile devices to place bets. This figure is bound to grow as high tech gadgets like smart phones and tablet computers become more affordable for all.
Sports Betting is King
Sports betting reigns supreme in the UK. The typical cyber gambler particularly favors football and horse racing bets, which can be easily placed with William Hill, Paddy Power, or any of the other superpower brokers mentioned above. From 2008 to 2012, sports betting saw a 102 percent growth in popularity. Online poker is the least favored cyber gambling activity, with only a 15 percent growth over the same period of time. Online bingo follows close behind with a growth of only 17 percent for that same period.
Hot UK Trends
By far, the hottest trend in UK online betting is sports wagering. Sports fans enjoy a heightened sense of excitement when they have a bit of money riding on a game or race. Even people who aren't interested in athletics can get in on the fun of sports wagering through UK sites like Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, and others. For those who prefer something different, there are plenty of live-play, poker, and bingo opportunities to be found at online UK gambling websites.