The UK is one of the biggest sectors in the world when it comes to online betting. Their betting history goes back to the 19th century and you will find that it’s very much something that’s a part of their culture. Gambling is seen very much as an accepted pastime in the UK and there is very little ‘frowned’ upon when it comes to placing bets.
One of the main reasons to this is that gambling laws are pretty relaxed for the average punter. Most of the larger European bookmakers allow you to wager in GBP using your bank card and you can have an account set up within just a couple of minutes. Whilst we will go into much more detail about how the UK betting economy works throughout this article, you can be pretty much safe in the knowledge that gambling is fully legal but also fully regulated.
As a result of all this, the UK has a high number of professional gamblers who reside in the country. This is again a result of not only the relaxed gambling laws, but also the culture that surrounds betting within the UK.
Is online betting in the UK legal?
The top and bottom of the this answer if yes, gambling is legal in the UK providing you are 18 years of age or older. It probably will come as little surprise to hear this for most; especially if you are from the UK and see how readily online gambling is advertised on TV, radio, newspapers and online. This is also the reason why so many professional bettors reside in the UK, as we mentioned previously.
It must be noted that the powers that be are extremely strict in bookmakers maintaining that no person under the age of 18 be allowed to gamble online or at any other establishment. Whilst there are many rules and regulations for betting within the UK, the clamp down on underage gambling is probably the most vigilant of the lot.
The UK’s gambling sector is run and legislated by the Gambling commission. These guys were put in place via a bill that was passed in 2005 and basically oversee everything that goes on within the industry. They are in place to make sure that bookmakers are abiding to certain rules and regulations, but more importantly to make sure that bookmakers aren’t extorting punters or betting sites. They are run on behalf of the governments Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The Gambling Commission will also oversee all licenses that are handed out within the industry. Bookmakers in particular must meet a stringent range of criteria before they are accepted. Again, this type of regulation is in place to protect the punter and if you ever need to find out if a bookmaker has been regulated or not then you check their website to see a full list (http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/default.aspx)
Since the introduction of the Gambling Commission in 2005 the number of fraudulent acts by rogue bookmakers has dramatically decreased. These days they are very quick to crack down on non-conforming bookmakers making the UK one of the safest places in which to place your bets.
The future of the Gambling Commission looks set to continue, as the good work they have carried out thus far seems to be keeping the rogue bookmaker at bay. That being said, what a lot of people may not realise is that many of the larger bookmakers that you see on your TV screens are actually based out of British territories that are known as ‘Tax Havens’. One of the most popular places is that of Gibraltar.
The Gambling Commission are in fact currently trying to push an act that see’s bookmakers charged a 15% tax on online bets along with any bookmaker wanting to advertise in the UK having to apply for a license within the UK. This means that companies such as Bet Victor and 32 Red (two companies that reside and are licensed in Gibraltar) will have to either pay for two licenses (one from Gibraltar and one from the UK) or be forced out of the UK market.
If this regulation is passed it’s unlikely that companies whose bread and butter markets are from the UK are going to jump ship. But it’s likely that there will be cuts in place to cover the 15% hike taxes the company will now have to pay. Essentially, the ploy is down to UK getting back the betting companies that make them so much money over years gone by. Whilst some do still reside within the UK, many have moved to seek tax relief from British Territories around the world.
Are winnings taxable?
As with a lot of the legislation when it comes to betting in the UK, the tax situation for bettors is very black and white. Basically, any winnings that are made from betting online or from brick and mortar betting establishments are not taxable.
The removal of tax on winnings came into place in 2001 by the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Previous to that players had to pay a 9% on winnings to cover taxable winnings but in 2001 it was deemed that the ‘art’ of betting was more of pastime than a taxable trade.
The removal of tax obviously had to hit someone and this came in the form of an additional 15% tax on all profits made from the bookmaker. This was the primary reason why many bookmakers moved to tax havens within the British Territories, as mentioned above, but those who decided to stay took the brunt of deficit in lost revenue from taxable winnings. But, as the famous saying goes, you never see a poor bookmaker!
One of many advantages to betting within the UK is that there are very few limitations. As you will have learned by now, whilst the government work closely with bookmakers to make sure everything is above board, they have made life considerably better for punters who regularly place wagers with these bookmakers.
Another sector that has been addressed is that of the financial sector and more importantly, the way in which we can transfer money too and from player accounts. The UK is lucky in that there is very few payment types that are prohibited from use for UK based citizens. Granted, a bookmaker may not offer certain payment types, for whatever reason, but most are available should the user choose to use it and the bookmaker provide the option.
The most common methods are still using credit or debit cards to make transactions. These are generally pretty much instant to deposit and will not cost you anything for the pleasure of doing so. Withdrawals to the same card are again usually free but can take up a short period of time ranging from 1 to 5 working days.
The e-wallet industry is also an area that is very popular with UK based bettors. E-wallets allow you to deposit finds almost anonymously and without the need of supplying the bookmaker with any banking details. The bigger companies in this market come in the form of PayPal, Neteller and Skrill. Whilst payments are often processed within just a few minutes (withdrawals included) you will likely have to pay some sort of nominal fee to continue with these types of purchase.