Is Online Casino Illegal?

Judge's Gavel on Stack of Casino ChipsEach different country has it's own gambling laws which means that the legality of online casinos is all dependent on where you're playing from.

That being said, there are some places in the world where gambling is definitely not allowed in all circumstances and some where playing casino games online couldn't be easier.

Fortunately, UK gamblers can rest assured that, for the most part, playing and betting at online casinos is legal.

However, that isn't to say that the UK is without its own comprehensive legislation. Learning about gambling laws in the UK can help you to stay safe as a player and help to ensure that you only ever visit fair and secure online casinos.

On this page, you can learn all about the UK's gambling laws, including:

  • Key facts about gambling laws in the UK
  • The legal restrictions UK online casino's must adhere to
  • The legal restrictions on gambling online in the UK for players

Online Gambling Laws in the UK – Key Facts

👨‍⚖️ Since 1960, gambling has been legal in the UK; this includes all types of betting, casino games and lotteries

👨‍⚖️ Since 2005, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission has been responsible for regulating gambling within the UK

👨‍⚖️ The legal age for sports betting and casino games is 18

👨‍⚖️ The legal age for lotteries and scratch cards is 16

👨‍⚖️ UK Casinos reserve the right to ask players for identification

How to Gamble Legally in the UK

Casino on Laptop on Great British FlagYou'll be happy to learn that in order to gamble legally in the UK, there are only a few requirements you need to meet. These are:

✅ Be playing from the UK and have a UK registered address

✅ Be of the legal age

✅ Be able to verify your identity

Below, you can find out more about each of these requirements.

Online Casino Players in the UK

As a UK resident, you can gamble both online and offline safely and legally, provided you meet all the other requirements. This means that, in addition to bricks and mortar casino venues, you have a wealth of online casino sites to choose from.

Although playing online may seem, to the uninitiated, a little bit more underhand than playing at a land-based casino, the legal rules are exactly the same. However, as there are no physical reassurances that you're stood right there, in a legal jurisdiction, players will have to be able to prove they are actually situated in the UK.

To do this, the online casino will ask you to provide your UK address when registering. They'll also check your IP address, to make sure you are accessing the site from within the UK.

If you do try to circumvent these requirements (e.g by using a fake address or an internet VPN), the casino reserves the right to block your account and withhold your money. In short, it's really not worth it.

Legal Age for Gambling in the UK

Entry Sign for Ages 18 PlusThe legal age for almost all gambling in the UK is 18. This age restriction applies to both online and offline sports betting, horse racing betting, casino games, video slots, bingo games.

You are required, therefore, to be eighteen years old or older to use online casinos.

The exceptions to this rule are the National Lottery, other lotteries and football pools. You are allowed to participate in these activities from 16 years of age.

Verifying Your Identity

When you register at an online casino, the casino will automatically perform an identity check using the electoral register. This is to make sure the details you have entered are correct and true.

If for any reason, however, your identity cannot be verified in this manner, the casino will request an official form of identification.

Acceptable ID sources include driving licenses and passports. You may also need to supply the casino with proof of address, which can be supplied in the form of a utility bill.

The reason why the casino must do this is in order to adhere to the UK's ‘Know Your Customer' policy. This policy is in place to ensure that online casinos cannot be used for money-laundering or other illegal activities. Furthermore, it also serves to ensure that you meet the two legal restrictions mentioned above.

Playing at Legal Online Casinos in the UK

If you meet all the requirements we've listed above then gambling in the UK is perfectly legal for you, both online and offline.

UK online casinos themselves are subject to other legal requirements. This means that if you want to rest assured that you're playing at a legal and regulated UK casino, there are a few more things you should consider.

Is the Online Casino Licensed?

ukgcFirst and foremost, any UK online casino must be licensed by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission to be operating legally. According to the Gambling Act of 2005, the purpose of the licensing system is to:

  • Prevent any connection between gambling and criminal activity
  • Ensure games are fair, regulated and transparent
  • Protect children and vulnerable people from being exploited

As such, a legal UK online casino must meet several checks, including proof of a clear criminal background, proof that the company has sufficient finances to operate, and proof that they have the ability to offer assistance to players, who may develop a gambling problem.

How to Find Licensed UK Online Casinos

Given the fact that a licensed casino has to adhere to so many rules and regulations, you can rest assured that these sites are fair and safe to play at. This means that when searching for a UK online casino, you should always check to make sure they do have a UKGC license.

At most licensed UK casinos, the casino will display it's credentials in the footer of the page. Therefore, players can simply scroll down to see a stamp, a crest or a UKGC logo. Moreover, the license number should be clearly displayed in the footer too. Here is an example of the text you can expect to see:

Casino X is licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission (Number xxxxxxx)  for customers in Great Britain.'

If you're ever in doubt of the validity of a casino license, you can also check the Gambling Commission's register. At the UKGC website, you can simply type in the casino's name or license number into their search engine to find the relevant information.

Why are Some Online Casinos Licensed Outside of the UK?

Gambling Licenses Logos Malta, Curacao, AlderneyThroughout the world there are many different regulatory bodies and Gambling Commissions which license casinos. As such, an online casino may display a non-UKGC license.

It is worth noting, however, that not all casino licenses have been created equally. The UKGC license is by far the most stringent and secure license a casino can offer and therefore it is deemed to be far more trustworthy than licenses from other jurisdictions, i.e Curacao.

UKGC licenses are only granted to UK casinos. However, there are some exceptions which allow for casino brands from other countries to operate legally in the UK. These are known as ‘remote operators', and they may come from:

  • EEA Countries
  • Alderney
  • Antigue and Barbuda
  • Gibralatar
  • Isle of Man
  • Tasmania

Any casino which is operative from the remote locations mentioned above will still have to adhere to the UKGC's rules in order to operate within the UK.

What's more, the Gambling Act 2014 states that any operator from such territories must base an element of their business in Great Britain, and therefore they will also need a United Kingdom Gambling Commission license.