UK Sports Betting Guide

UK Sports Betting Guide


Sports betting has a long history in the UK, having been strictly controlled for many decades. However, now wagering on sporting events has become easier, owing to the less tough regulations that are in place. The 1960 Act legalized off-course bookmakers, having made sports betting more accessible in the country. Nowadays, there's a large market in the UK for sports betting both at betting shops and licensed websites, especially for greyhound racing, horse, and football.

It is estimated that the total worth of the sports betting industry in the UK stands at £650 million. From 2009 to 2012, the annual growth rate was about 7%; this increase is attributed to the estimated 2.1 million sports bettors in the country. Pursuant to other statistics, the UK's government received £1.7 billion in betting and gaming duties. For comparison, the profit from fuel duty and corporation tax during the same period was estimated at £26.6 billion and £41 billion respectively.

It's worth mentioning that the United Kingdom is on the second place in the world (just after Japan) according to the percentage of global market share. Notably, that the UK betting represents an important share of 39,1% of the European market with the average rates growth of above the 10,4% during 2001-2013.

Licensing & Legalities

Unlike many regions around the world, the UK gambling laws are quite straightforward. Most types of gambling in the country, including gambling over the Internet, are legal, and the industry is well-regulated. 

The 1968 original gaming Act allowed gamblers to play (wager money) in poker rooms, bingo halls and licensed sportsbooks. However, due to the advent of the Internet, this law became a bit outdated, so the Gambling Act of 2005 made things clearer in terms of players rights for online money wagering. The Act made betting/gambling on the Internet legal on conditions that it is not a source of crime or disorder, is not associated with these and is not used to support crime.

Owing to excessive leeway, which the 2005 Act gave to the British gambling market, in 2012 the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport published a document "The Gambling Act 2005: A bet worth taking?", criticising some its aspects.

As a consequence of this, on 1 November, 2014, the Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Act came into force. It made all remote gambling/betting operators offering services to the UK consumers subject to consistent regulation. This consistency lets consumers understand their rights easily and ensures absolute transparency, fairness and security of an operator.

In order for a bookmaker to legally facilitate sports betting in the UK, they have to be licensed to do so. This license comes from the Gambling Commission. There are non-remote general betting licenses (standard and limited), as well as remote (online) standard, limited, and intermediary licenses. If pool betting is the type of betting that the business will be carrying out, then a special pool betting license is needed as well. Here is a short rundown of those licenses required:

  • Non-remote general betting license (standard) – It allows running of a betting shop, based on a premises, and permits setting up of maximum four gaming machines, which in turn must be classified under category B2 or lower.
  • Remote general betting license (standard) – If you are promoting/ facilitating remote gambling, this license is a must have for you. In the case, you are facilitating betting on real events, then your license must have a specification “real events.” The same applies to the betting on virtual events (specification - "virtual events") and betting on a website (specification - “remote platform”).
  • A remote general betting license (limited) – It allows you to provide betting facilities only by email or telephone, and you must not cross over £550,000. If you exceed this limit, then you will need a remote general betting license (standard).
  • Remote intermediary licenses – A non-remote betting intermediary allows getting two or more betting parties together if you have liability for the bets. A remote betting intermediary license is very similar to non-remote with the only difference that you are using remote communication over in-person communication. A remote betting intermediary (trading rooms) license allows you to run a trading room, which are rooms that allow people to bet with a third party remotely.
  • Pool betting licenses – The remote and non-remote pool betting licenses allow you to run pool betting (races, football, and other sports) either on a premises or remotely through electronic communication.

For individuals to legally bet on sports, they must meet the minimum age requirements. It is currently illegal for a person under 18 years of age to enter a licensed gambling facility. The only exception is when the facility is a licensed family entertainment center. Individuals that are at least 16 years of age can enter into football pools. Nonetheless, according to the Gambling Act 2005 – Part 4, there has been no age minimum established for non-commercial or private gaming and betting.

Betting Market & Top Platforms

According to the Gambling Commission survey, 73% of the adult population (aged 16  and over) participated in some form of gambling in the past year. This equates to about 35.5 million adults. The 9% of all gamblers bet on spots events, and 27% of sports bettors reported that the placed their bet online. Among the most popular sports that people bet on, there are:

  • Football – It is, perhaps, the one sport that is bet on the most. Football betting is said to be a billion dollar industry, according to the BBC. Approximately 70% of the industry is focused on football betting.
  • Horse Racing – It deservedly takes the top position in the list of sports mostly wagered on, as11 million people in the UK bet on racehorses every year, according to The Telegraph.
  • Cricket – It is among the most popular sports that the UK bettors place wagers on, and according to the Daily Mail, cricket is one of the biggest earners in sports betting.
  • Tennis – A Gambling Commission study in 2013 showed that there was a spike in tennis betting. It saw a turnover of £3.5 billion, which is definitely a big figure can't stay unnoticed.

Of course, these are not the only sports that can be bet on. Practically any type of competitive sport can be used as a gambling medium. Greyhound racing, boxing, ice hockey, basketball, and baseball are examples of some other sports that people can bet on either non-remotely or remotely.

Top 3 Platforms for Sports Betting in the UK

Online betting:

  1. 10Bet – Upon sign-up, 10Bet gives you a £200 cash bonus just for signing up, and a £30 reload bonus. That will get you started. They have nearly a dozen payment and withdrawal methods, including bank transfer, credit card, and cheque.
  2. 888Sport – You can bet on over a dozen different types of sports, utilize mobile in your betting, get free bets every day, and experience live betting with this online sportsbook.
  3. Bet365 - It is based in Stoke-on-Trent and is one of the largest employers in England. The bookie is licensed and regulated by the Gaming Commission and features a £200 bonus for new customers, which among the biggest incentives in the industry.

Offline betting:

  1. Paddypower – This is an Ireland-based bookmaker that has over 300 retail betting shops throughout the UK. They do give away free bets after a specific amount deposited.
  2. Ladbrokes – It is a trusted UK brand that has over 2,700 betting shops throughout the UK, and 14,000 people employed. This bookmaker has been around since 1886. They also have free bet promotions.
  3. Gala Coral - It is a well-established company, tracing it’s history back to 1926. Coral is now operating one of the leading bookmakers in the UK with over 1,100 shops in the UK and over 16,000 employees.

Deposit/Payment Methods

Of course, when you bet on sports, you will need to deposit money that you use for your bets. The following explains how you can do that.

Online Betting

Most online betting sites specify how you are to deposit funds. They may have a specific type of account for you to deposit in, using your credit card or bank account. They may also require you to use a third party site to transmit your deposits, such as Paypal or Skrill. If you cannot have your winnings deposited back onto a credit card, then a prepaid debit card may be needed. So, you can transfer money to your bank account with no problems.

In the case your bank account is allowed by the online betting site, then the winnings can be deposited directly into your account if that is an acceptable withdrawal method. However, for security reasons, it may not be.

This is why it is very important to review banking methods of an online bookie prior to signing up with it, as they can vary from site-to-site. Make sure you will be able to withdraw your funds once you win. Deposit/ withdrawal limits as well as cash out proceeding time range, depending on a platform. These are advised to be checked as well.

Offline Betting

When betting offline, you are face-to-face with the bookmaker (or “bookie”). You will place your bet and receive a ticket that specifies what your bet is. That way when you win, you can redeem your ticket and receive your winnings in cash. Each time you want to place a bet, you simply hand the bookie your money and redeem your ticket for your winnings. Some land-based betting offices may support debit/ credit cards, but this must be specified with the company sales representative.

Choosing The Right Platform

Selecting a good betting platform is essential and may even result in your betting success. We advise you to ensure that your bookmaker accepts deposit and withdrawal methods that are available to you in your location and features a good reputation. So here is a rundown of what you should look for:

  • Banking methods -While payment processors, such as Skrill and PayPal are popular, they are only available in certain areas of the world. So make sure that the platform accepts certain payments, which are available to you. In order not to be stuck with winnings, check how fast you can get your winnings (withdrawal proceeding time).
  • Security - Make sure that you are dealing with a secure site. Review their FAQ and "Terms and Conditions" sections for security information. Check if they have an eCORGA certificate, TST audit reports, licenses of the UK Gambling Commission/ the government of Malta/ Curacao/ Alderney/ Gibraltar. Using SSL digital encryption is a must and must be checked as well. Do not forget to look at safety measures taken to protect your privacy and payment information.
  • Bonuses - Check what sort of sign-un bonuses a betting website gives to you. Some may give free bet money just for signing up while others may offer other incentives. You have to look at what is going to benefit you the most. Everyone is different, so what may work for a friend may not work for you.


How do I know that a bookmaker/ betting website is properly licensed?

Bookmakers should have their licenses on a file. The Gambling Commission also has this information available if you wish to check with them. Their licensing information is usually outlined in "Terms and Conditions" or in a special section, dedicated to the safety and fair play, on their website. If they don’t, then they may not be properly licensed.

I want to apply for a sports betting license, how do I do that?

You go to the Gambling Commission’s website to do so. However, you can click here to go directly to the operating license application.

How do I know if a specific payment processor is available in my geographic location?

Look at the betting platform acceptable payment methods. These are usually listed in their "Terms and Conditions", FAQs, or a separate "Banking" section. They almost always list supported payment options in the small print on the bottom of their front page.

What information do I need to sign up for an online sports betting account?

You will need to properly identify yourself. The individual sites will specify what they need to establish your identity. They have to ensure that you are of the minimum age required to bet as well as your identity. While the information they request, such as picture ID, may be somewhat extensive at times, it is for your protection. You may be able to sign up immediately, but identification must be established sometime before cashing out.

When choosing a bookmaker, how do I know who the best is?

Although the bookmaker may not facilitate bets remotely, online reviews by others who have utilized them can be of a great help. However, beware of reviews from individuals who may be bitter, because they didn’t win. Use only those that are focused exceptionally on the bookmaker and not the game they bet on.


Gambling on sporting events occupies an important position in the economy of the UK, especially if to consider the revenue of £1.7, which it brings to the government of the country each year. The high-availability and popularity of sports betting in the UK can be explained by the moderate regulations put in place by the government in the name both of the Gambling Act of 2005 and Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Act of 2014. The UK Gambling Commission survey displays that about 73% of the UK adult population gambled in the past year. This once again demonstrates the widespread of gambling in the country.

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