A Historical Overview of the UK’s Casino Industry’s Rise and Fall

For centuries, gambling has become a popular recreational activity in the UK. In 1845, the Gaming Act legalized all gambling; however, there were still many restrictions and scrutiny. There was a systematic amendment about gambling after King Henry VIII’s ban in 1506.

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The industry has since experienced multiple rise and fall due to various reasons and amendments. Eventually, there was an Act of Parliament put in place on September 1, 1960, which legalized betting. However, it was illegal for individuals under 18, and there were still restrictions to specific games such as bridge. 

History of the Gambling Industry in the UK

The UK is one of the most extensively regulated brick-and-mortar and online gambling markets. In 1845, the Gaming Act 1845 legalized the game of skill in the country and made betting establishments popular. The first legal casino in the UK is The Casino Club Port Talbot in Wales established by George Alfred James in 1961. 

The top online casino establishments often set wagers and odds in the UK. Today, several gambling establishments in the UK exist as either land-based or online establishments. In March 2021, a survey showed that a large percentage of individuals with gambling problems were aged 35 to 44. 

The UK authorities outsourced the protection of the players with gambling problems by creating a platform called Gamstop. The platform was set up in 2018, and the gambling industry funded it. Gamstop protects players that develop gambling problems to self-exclude from any gambling site. 

Growth of Online Gambling in the UK

The gambling industry in the UK is very innovative because the market is quite competitive. Over the last decade, the online gambling industry has experienced a significant amount of growth. However, between April 2018 and March 2020, the gambling industry in the UK 

experienced a slight decline in the Gross Gambling Yield (GGY).

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Although, the decline majorly affected land-based casinos because the online gambling industry increased during that period. There was no sign of a slow betting rate in online casino gambling, as it increased by 4%, while remote betting also increased by 15.5%. Today, several online casinos are competing for the attention of the players in the UK. 

These casinos started implementing features to beat the competition and increase their users. Some casinos began to offer gamblers a broad games library, exquisite themes, and a wide range of bonuses. Some casinos also put some measures to help players with gambling problems. 

Mobile casinos also enable players to access a wide range of games at their convenient time. Most mobile casinos also offer players several bonuses and promotions. These features facilitated the growth of online casino over the years. There are often real money games available for the players at these casinos. Some of these real money games are:

  • Roulette
  • Blackjack
  • Poker
  • Baccarat

Popular Gambling Activities in the UK 

There are several gaming activities available for players in the UK. The National Lottery is a popular type of gambling in the UK, followed by scratchcards. It is a common type of gambling that cuts across a wide age range. According to research, 26.5% of Brits participate in the National Lottery draws from 2017 to 2021. 

The following are some of the popular casino games in the UK and their descriptions:

SlotsThese types of casino games are great for players who love to play for low stakes. The games often have immersive style and themes which keeps the players entertained.
BaccaratIt is a game that involves the use of skill, strategy, and luck. The popular variation of this game at UK casinos is the Punto Banco.
RouletteThere is two variations of roulette which are the American and European Roulettes. However, the common roulette played in the UK is American Roulette.
PokerIt is a popular casino game available worldwide. The game involves two hands which are the bankers and the players.

There are no deposit casino bonus codes for existing players UK to play the games for free in some casino games. These players can use the codes to get free gameplay and earn real money. Some of these games include blackjack, roulette, and craps. 

UK Ban on Credit Cards 

UKGC announced the ban on the use of credit cards for gambling which will become effective starting from April 14, 2020. According to the new law, gambling businesses in the UK will no longer accept credit cards from their players. The ban is also effective on all forms of gambling in the country; however it exempts the sale of National Lottery tickets.

The government came to this resolution due to the results of the reviews carried out by the government. According to the review conducted by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, approximately 24 million adults in the UK engage in gambling activity. Research in 2018 showed that 800,000 British individuals make use of credit cards. 

There was research that showed that 22% of players that make use of credit cards to gamble online are often problem gamblers. Also, the fees charged by credit cards often make consumers try to chase their losses to a great extent.

Betting Laws

There are laws guiding the regulation of gambling in the United Kingdom. Section 9 of the Gambling Act 2005 defines betting as the acceptance or making a wager on the possible outcomes of an event. There are bets made on occurrences or events that are about to happen or already happened and where a party knows the possible outcome of the event. 

The Gambling Laws and Regulations in the United Kingdom oversee some of the common issues faced in gambling laws and regulations. The Gambling Act 2005 is the main legislation that governs gambling in gaming, betting, and lottery participation. The LCCP imposes extensive gambling regulations in the country.

UK Gambling Act 2005

The UK government fully implemented the Gambling Act 2005 in September 2007. It became a law on April 7, 2005. The Act was an update of the country’s existing gambling laws, which were decades old. It included the new protection and powers for the old and new forms or methods of gambling. 

This Gambling Act helps to prevent and protect gambling from being a form of disorder or crime in the country. It dissociates gambling from various crimes and ensures that gambling is fairly operated. 

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC)

The UKGC is a non-departmental executive body formed to take over the Gaming Board in the country in 2007. It is a directive created to regulate bingo, arcades, lotteries, and slot machines in casinos. The public body, endorsed by the Department of Sport, Culture, and Media, has the authority to grant casino licenses. Some of these licenses include:

  • Casino Operating License
  • Gaming Machine Operating License
  • Bingo Operating License

Potential applicants for the licenses should note some of its requirements which are:

  • Any key personnel in the gambling business must possess personal permits or licenses.
  • Individuals that develop, maintain, or supply any gambling software need to possess a gambling software operating license.

A Fall in the Gambling Revenue in the UK

The gambling revenue in the United Kingdom reduced by 13.6% in June 2022. Almost all types of gambling experienced a significant decline in revenue. There was also a 7.4% decline in online slot revenue, and online sports betting also took a hit by losing 22.6%. Although there was a reduction in slot revenue, it is still a popular gambling game among players. 

Most land-based casinos experienced a significant decrease in revenue, unlike online casinos. Online and mobile gambling had an exponential increase in growth because the players could access their games anywhere. The gambling sector manages to get back on track each time there is a setback, showing how much the industry has grown.


The history of gambling in the UK dates back to 1845 when the legalisation of the Gaming Act occurred. Several laws were put in place to prevent gambling from being a crime. One of these laws was the ban on using credit cards for gambling, which became effective on April 14, 2020. 

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