Perhaps more than any other country in the world, gambling has long and storied history in the United Kingdom. Unlike other countries that fought against gambling expansion, the UK legalized the activity way back in 1968 and allowed commercial casinos, bookmakers, and poker rooms to be built throughout the country.
Today, the UK is home to the biggest gambling companies in the world. Much of the success of online sports betting internationally is due to the innovation and modernization of sports betting by UK bookmakers. The industry has led the charge for several decades and continues to do so.
Betting on sports in the UK is as common as a cup of tea in the morning. For Britons, seeing a bookmaker on the street corner or venturing through London’s High Street for bookies is simply a part of life.
Gambling in all forms has been popular since the Middle Ages across the Kingdom but was first legalized in 1960 in the form of bingo. Then came the 1968 Gaming Act, which allowed for commercial gambling.
As the Internet grew in popularity across Britain, so did online gambling. The UK passed the Gambling Act of 2005, which licensed and regulated online betting throughout the country and created the UK Gambling Commission.
As far as gaming regulatory bodies, the UK Gambling Commission is regarded as one of the best in the world. They will fight for players in disputes and will readily strip operators of their license if they don’t fall into compliance with their high standards. Each site needs separate licenses for each form of gambling they offer (poker, sports, casino, or bingo) and another license for their software or betting interface.
Gambling in the UK is a booming industry, and not just from customers placing wagers. There are over 100,000 jobs relating to the gambling industry, which accounts for over £6 billion in revenue and close to £800 million in taxes.
All forms of gambling are legal in the UK, including sports betting, whether it is through a land-based bookie or at an online bookmaker.
It’s an ideal country for the professional gambler as well. UK citizens pay zero taxes on gambling winnings, even if they file as a professional gambler and gambling is their sole income.
Sports bettors, or punters as they colloquially called in UK, will have access to the best of the best when it comes to online betting markets. Many world-famous online bookies are based in the UK, such as William Hill, Ladbrokes, and Coral. William Hill and Ladbrokes are publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange and are some of the biggest gaming companies in the world.
Soccer, called football in the UK, is by far the most-popular sport for betting. The English Premier League (EPL) is the most-watched sports league in the world, dwarfing even the NFL in terms of viewership per match. The league is broadcast in 200 countries and is seen by over 600 million people worldwide.
England has a whopping eight levels of football divisions. The Football League Championship (one notch below the EPL) and Football League One (the third level from the top) also have a massive following. The Scottish Premier League is also extremely popular, though it is mostly watched and wagered on by their native fans.
Fans also support their clubs in the Champions League, one of the most wagered-upon events in the world. Of course, the English fans love betting on their national team in both the World Cup and Euro Cup, despite their lack of success in recent years.
Rugby and cricket are behind soccer in terms of popularity, but both are heavily bet on across the UK as well. Most UK sportsbooks will have a focus on English sports, but their list of markets is expansive, especially when it comes to soccer. There are odds available for every league across Europe and South America and many offer Asian markets. As US sports, especially the NFL, gain popularity in England, bookmakers have begun offering a broad list of odds on American sports.
The above list of odds and markets only scratches the surface. British bookmakers are famous for offering odds on just about anything. In fact, you can email some bookmakers with an event that you want odds on (if they don’t already offer it), and they will create an odds market for your betting pleasure.
Bettors in the UK will have the largest assortment of deposit and withdrawal options available compared to any other country. Almost every method is free of charge, and some bookmakers offer dozens of options in their cashier.
By far the most-utilized deposit methods are the e-wallets Neteller and MoneyBookers, but PayPal is also available in the UK due to their heavily regulated online gambling industry. All of these methods are instant, and funds will be available immediately after depositing. There are other choices, including credit cards, bank transfers, and many more.
Withdrawals back to e-wallets usually take a few days at the most but in some cases are processed in just a few hours. Most UK-based bookmakers have 24-hour service staff, so getting players their funds quickly is a top priority. Almost all withdrawal methods are free and come with no fees.
The UK has been a leader in gambling for over 50 years, and things haven’t changed. Citizens not only don’t have to pay taxes on their gambling winnings, but they have their pick of the world’s best bookmakers in the world’s strictest regulatory environment.