UK Gambling Sites

Thanks to it's legal status in the country, UK customers have a huge choice of where to bet. As consumers, that's a great thing. Choice means competitions, which leads to bigger odds, more offers and generally a better service. After all, if you're not getting the experience you want from a bookie it's very easy to go and find another one.

Best Gambling Site Sign Up Offers

Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets
Our number one choice and a firm favourite of the team
Notes: Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets for new customers at bet365.Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. Registration required. #ad
£50 bonus
Min odds 4/5
Lots of regular offers
Notes: New bettors; Code SPORT; Wager deposit & bonus 8x; Max qualifying bet stake=initial bonus; Valid 60 days; Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply; T&C apply; 18+ #ad
Bet £5, Get £20
Min odds 1/2, 4 x £5 free bets
Accepts PayPal for easy deposits & withdrawals
Notes: 18+. UK+IRE only. Min first bet £5 at odds 1/2 or more. Tote and Pool excluded. Must be placed within 14 days of account reg. £20 credited as 4 x £5 free bets. Not valid with Cash Out. Free bet valid for 4 days. Free bet stake not returned. T&Cs apply. #ad
Bet £5 Get £20
Min odds 1/2
Lots of features and products to try out
Notes: 18+ New UK+IRE customers. Paypal and certain deposit types and bet types excluded. Min £5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 = 4 x £5 free bets. Free bets valid for 4 days on sports, stake not returned, restrictions apply. T&Cs apply. #ad
Bet £10 Get £30
Get Six £5 Free Bets
Very easy to use site
Notes: 18+ New customers only. Opt in, bet £10 at odds 2.00+ within 7 days, no cashout. Get 6x £5 Free Bets, set events at odds 2.00+. 7 day bonus expiry. Debit Card / Apple Pay payments only. Click for T&Cs. Please Gamble Responsibly. #ad
Bet £10 Get £50 in Bonuses
Use code WELCOME50
Very easy to use site
Notes: New customers only. Register (excl. 13/04/24) with WELCOME50. First bet £10+ at Evens (2.0)+ on Sports within 7 days to get Free Bets: £20 In-Play, £20 Acca & 50 x £0.20 (£10) Free Spins on Fishin’ Frenzy within 10 hours of settlement. 7-day expiry. Eligibility & payment exclusions apply. Full T&Cs apply. #ad

Site Reviews

In this section we have written reviews of all of the gambling sites we are happy to recommend to our readers. Included in the list are both old established brands as well as brand new betting sites, provided they meet our criteria for inclusion. Below you'll find a table with some basic facts about the sites, to find out more simply head over to the review.

SiteOwnerSportsCasinoLicense Number*Review
10Bet Blue Star Planet Ltd Yes Yes 43173 Review
Coral LC International Limited Yes Yes 54743 Review
Betfred Petfre (Gibraltar) Limited Yes Yes 39544 Review
Ladbrokes LC International Limited Yes Yes 54743 Review
BetVictor BV Gaming Limited Yes Yes 39576 Review
Betway Betway Limited Yes Yes 39372 Review
Betfair PPB Entertainment Limited Yes Yes 39426 Review
Paddy Power PPB Entertainment Limited Yes Yes 39426 Review
888 888 UK Limited Yes Yes 39028 Review
32Red 32Red Limited Yes Yes 39430 Review
Unibet Platinum Gaming Limited Yes Yes 45322 Review

* All sites listed in the table are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. This is a legal requirement for a company to accept wagers from a customer in the UK. If a gambling site doesn't have a UK license, don't play there - you'll be breaking the law.

Is Online Betting Legal?

Green Tick Above Held Smartphone

Can You Bet Online in the UK?

Yes - For those aged 18 or older, online betting in the UK is perfectly safe and legal when gambling with a licenced and reputable operator.

Betting in the UK is carefully regulated to ensure bookmakers are fair, crime free and that they protect those who are vulnerable from harm.

Despite the fact that betting has been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years and despite the fact it has long been legal in the UK, many people still have some concerns about online betting. The UK is widely regarded as the best regulated gambling market in the world and there is no doubt that many Brits enjoy betting.

From the National Lottery, which certainly falls under the definition of betting, to the Grand National and from a weekly football acca to the odd bet on the biggest golf tournaments, tens of millions of people in the UK place at least one bet each year.

More and more of those bets are placed online and via mobile betting sites (which are essentially classified as online from a legal perspective). Given that we can assume that tens of millions of people aren’t openly breaking the law on a regular basis, it’s safe to say that online betting most certainly is legal.

However, if we were to start and end this article with the one word answer, “yes”, no doubt many people would have a number of questions. As such we’ll go beyond such a simplistic response to the question and hopefully provide you with the answers to any queries or doubts you may have.

First of all we’ll take a look at the history, from a legal perspective, of gambling in the UK and how online betting fits into that. Then we’ll look at who regulates the industry and how to check if a betting site is legitimate.

History of Gambling in the UK

Antique Parchment and Coins

Gambling is a huge, modern, business but people have placed bets against one another for thousands of years, betting on games, contests and sports. Of course, the world changes quickly and that change seems to be happening at an ever faster pace. Regulation has, at times, struggled to keep pace with such changes in the world of gambling but here we take a brief look at the most important laws that have sought to control betting in the UK.

A report by KPMG in 2000 stated that “gambling has permeated British life for hundreds of years” and that “gaming houses were one of the main social locations in London and the spa towns in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries”.

Even in the earliest years of gaming and wagering, right back as far as 1190, laws were created to try to control gambling. The Complete Illustrated Guide to Gambling by Alan Wykes recalls how King Richard of England and Phillip of France created laws determining who could and couldn’t gamble and how much they could spend.

It is not within our scope to consider all of the almost-1000 years of gambling legalities that have taken place since then. However, the point is that gambling is an activity that is very much part of the human and certainly British psyche. Moreover, it is one that has long been subject to the laws of the land.

Now we must jump forward rather dramatically, though briefly, to the 17th and 18th century, when gambling in a wide variety of forms was hugely popular. The growth of horse racing is very much linked to this but gaming houses were also hugely popular. These were the forerunners of casinos, where the middle and upper class would play a range of card and dice games.

In addition to that there were a range of lotteries, whilst people would also bet on “sports” such as cock fighting and bear and badger baiting. Betting on fighting and running contests were also common, whilst there were more unusual and famous bets, such as that struck by Count de Buckeburg.

In 1735, Count de Buckeburg bet that he could ride his horse backwards from London to Edinburgh. Sadly it is not known whether he won, nor the scale of the bet, though it is believed to have been a substantial sum.

Other “eccentric” bets were not uncommon too but as the betting bug spread to all strata of society, there were those who began to believe it was a bad influence. More puritanical times were to come and from the start of the 19th century to the mid-20th, gambling went through a period of far stricter control and prohibition.

Modern Gambling Laws

Big Ben Clock Faces

It wasn’t until 1960 that we moved towards the modern era of betting. For a number of years the laws had been confusing, contradictory and totally ineffective. Various laws in the 20th century had simply moved betting from one arena to another, with little regulation, licensing or taxation.

A Royal Commission was established in 1949 to consider the public’s sentiment towards gambling. The Royal Commission made a number of suggestions but it wasn’t until the legislation of the 1960s that these came into law and real change began.

The Betting and Gaming Act meant that from 1st May 1961 betting shops became legal in the UK. Gambling for small sums on games of skill, for example in the pub, also became legal from 1st January that year.

Green Shop Open Icon

The UK’s appetite for gambling is shown by the fact that within six months of the change of law there were 10,000 betting shops in the UK and 1,000 casinos opened within five years. The main aim of the laws was to take gambling from the streets. In the past many bookmakers had operated in the shadows of the law, using runners to accept bets.

Many of the huge, modern online betting giants, such as Betfred, BetVictor, Coral and Ladbrokes were all very quick to get in on the act. They opened betting shops straight away and expanded with varying degrees of pace.

Two more Gaming Acts were passed in 1963 and 1968, whilst a further act in 1970 brought other areas of gambling, including slot machines and bingo, under the same sorts of regulations.

In essence not all that much changed for a long time following this 1960s liberalisation in terms of the laws relating to gambling. The National Lottery was legislated for in 1994 and it is round about this time that online gambling began.

The advent of the internet created a lot of new issues, legal, moral and ethical in a whole host of areas and gambling was no different. It wasn’t until 2005 that the Gambling Act was passed to try and make the legal position regarding online gambling clearer and to ensure the industry became better regulated.

This was the first time that internet betting was specifically and directly regulated, whilst perhaps the most important thing was the creation of the Gambling Commission, which assumed full control of almost all UK gambling in 2007. The Gambling Commission aims to “keep crime out of gambling, to ensure that gambling is conducted fairly and openly and to protect children and vulnerable people”.

The Gambling Commission took over from the Gaming Board and is responsible for licensing and regulating betting, both online and in shops, in just about all forms, from bingo to sports, casinos to arcades and slot machines to lotteries. Spread betting and certain other more financial-orientated products are, however, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

In 2014 a number of updates were added that were designed to make advertising more controlled and also make the tax position of off-shore sites clearer – and more lucrative for the government. The key elements of this Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Act 2014, as with most recent laws regarding gambling, had far more impact on operators – bookies, online casinos and so on – than they did on punters.

Indeed, the only real legal change that did impact bettors came in 2001 when tax on betting was abolished, the burden falling on the bookies as opposed to those placing the bets. There is more information on that in our “Do You Pay Tax On Gambling Winnings” feature.

So, there we are, via a long history dating back to the Crusades, right up to the present day. Perhaps it would have been easier if we had just said “Yes, online gambling in the UK is legal if you’re 18 or older”?!

UK Gambling Regulation and Licensing

Gambling Commission Logo

As we have said, licensing and regulation in the UK is now undertaken almost exclusively by the Gambling Commission. The 2014 Act introduced a law that any bookmaker, online bingo or casino site, poker operator or other gambling site operating via the internet would need a remote license from the Gambling Commission if they were to accept any UK players.

This means that if you are registering at almost any form of online betting site with a UK address and card, that site must have a license from the UK Gambling Commission. Essentially this is good news as the Commission is almost certainly the most respected, vigilant and powerful body of its kind in the world.

That means, in theory at least, that you should have a good degree of safety, security and financial assurance at any site that accepts UK customers. As with most things in life, for those that seek them, there are grey areas and loopholes. However, it is certainly fair to say that when you play at any of the main UK-facing sites, you will have the security of Gambling Commission regulation.

Note that if you are unsure about whether or not a site is licensed in the UK, you can check this easily enough by visiting the Gambling Commission website.