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The History of the Gambling Act

February 9, 2024

Casino gaming and betting in the UK has an undeniably rich history. For example, the popular spectator sport of horse racing and the betting connected to it can be traced back many centuries, as the earliest recorded races were held in the 1500s.  

Over the years, the UK has been a country that has always attempted to regulate these activities, through the passing of different laws like the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 which paved the way for commercial bingo halls to open, and the Gaming Act of 1968 which did the same for casino properties.

However, the 21st century brought about even greater progress, with the passage of the Gambling Act of 2005, arguably the most important legislation on casino gaming in the UK’s history. Here we dive more into just what impact the 2005 Act had on the casino gaming landscape.

The UK Gambling Commission is formed

A few decades had passed since previous laws concerning gaming were approved, and with things like the internet coming on the scene, it was clearly time for an update.

That’s when the Gaming Act of 2005 arrived on the scene, with a few primary objectives. The Act brought all gambling activities under its umbrella, whether they were arcades, lotteries, bingo, sports betting, or casino games, ensuring that all of them would be conducted fairly and openly. The Act also brought forth a new regime for physical casino properties, allowing larger resort-style establishments to begin construction.

All of this fell on the shoulders of the newly formed Gambling Commission, or the overseeing body that is responsible for the regulation of gaming in the UK. This, as described by section 3 in the Act refers to A) gaming for the chance of a prize, B) betting on an upcoming event outcome like a horse race or the like, and C) all lottery activities excluding the National Lottery, as it is regulated by the National Lottery Commission.

Since its creation, this executive body of Britain’s government has always had the same mission: to be successful in the pursuit of transforming the country’s gaming scene into one of fairness and transparency above all.

Today, UK residents can play fully legal casino games online thanks in large part to the Gambling Act of 2005

How does the Act apply to online patrons?

The Gaming Act of 2005 also made online casino gaming and betting legal, in response to the many residents that prefer to play virtually. However, it’s a must for all online casino gaming operators that have business in the UK to obtain a license from the Gambling Commission before conducting business.

Additionally, operators must regularly update the commission on how they are managing their sites. If they are regulated under a license from a different jurisdiction other than the Gambling Commission, they must transition to the governing body’s license without exception.

At the time of the new law over 20 years ago, online gaming was worth an estimated 12% of total market share in the UK. That number has now grown exponentially as the online sector continues to generate a massive amount of revenue for the industry.