Is Sports Betting Legal?

UK Gambling Commission LogoAll of the traditional brick-and-mortar bookmakers operate the same games and bets online as they do in the local betting shops. But online sites and mobile apps add a level of convenience to the player’s experience. The internet and mobile technology has revolutionised the way we bet on sports.

However, online sports betting is not legal in all countries around the world, the US being the major country that banned online wagering. Fortunately it is legal throughout most of Europe including the UK. Remote gambling is regulated at a government level.

The UK’s 2005 Gambling Act regulates sports betting, gaming and participating in the lottery from a remote location either via the internet, telephone, television, radio or any other electronic technology.

In 2014 the remote gambling act required remote gaming companies to register for a licence. A separate license is required for each segment of gambling offered to UK players. Poker, casino, sports, bingo and lotteries all require unique licensing.

The UK is now one of the most tightly-regulated online betting markets in the world. If a company accepts UK players and does not obtain a licence they will face criminal charges.

Gaming companies operating within the UK have to pay point of consumption tax of 15 percent. Since point of consumption tax was introduced online gaming companies have had to alter the way they operate as they cannot keep operating costs at a minimum. Many operators left the UK after point of consumption tax was introduced as they simply couldn’t afford to stay. So which bookmakers still operate in the UK? As it happens, only the legitimate online bookmakers still operate in the UK territory, a list of the best of these can be found over on our sports betting apps page. Many of those listed operate the largest online and mobile sportsbooks were previously one of the biggest bookmakers on the high street. are also bookmakers in the UK or were in the past. Names such as William Hill, Betfred, 888Sport, Bet365, William Hill and Ladbrokes will be familiar to you. Some have never operated a high street store but now operate some of the most successful online and mobile sites, Betfair and the Betfair Exchange are names that spring to mind.

Because sports betting is not legal in all countries bookmakers are required to verify your location. In order to verify your location the bookmaker will use your IP address or when you access mobile software the smartphone app will use the location service. You will be rejected from betting if outside of the UK.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sports Betting and it’s Regulation within the UK

Who Regulates Gambling in the UK?
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission, is broadly charged with oversight of all bookmakers operating within the UK’s jurisdiction. They also regulate online poker, bingo, casino, and other real-money wagering products.

Does the Law Regulate Mobile Betting?
The law regulates all methods of remote gambling such as those placed via an app for smartphones and tablets, online betting and bets placed via a television app or telephone.

Is it safe to play at UK betting sites?
It is just as safe to bet via a computer, a mobile phone or a tablet as it is to go in to a high street store due to the UK’s tight regulation by the UK Gambling Commission.

Can I play at unlicensed betting sites?
Online sports books that have not obtain a licence from the UK’s gambling commission are not permitted to accept customers from the UK. Those that do are at risk of severe penalty as it is a criminal act. If you choose to place a bet at a site which is not licenced by the UK government you are taking an unnecessary risk. It is best to avoid unlicensed sites. All sites mentioned on this site are regulated and licenced.

Where Can I Find More Information?
You can get most information via the website of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission.