Players from the UK have unprecedented freedom when it comes to gambling. With progressive legislation protecting rights to enjoy online poker anywhere – it is no surprise that so many poker sites are based there, or in UK offshore territories. This guide to UK poker will show you where to play and how the GBP to USD conversions at most sites works.
Firstly I have looked at what is different about the UK legislation which has allowed the huge growth of gambling and online poker. Next you’ll find a summary of some of the biggest and best loved UK brands offering online poker games. After that some advice on getting your money in and profits out of UK poker sites as quickly and easily as possible, including at sites where you’ll play in dollars.
Playing poker and gambling in the UK, both online and at brick and mortar casinos, is perfectly legal as long as you are over 18 years of age – and there is no tax to be paid on gambling winnings unless this is your sole source of income.
Some sites, especially those with well-known bookmaker’s names, are thought of as primarily UK card rooms. This is false as the reality is players are welcome from all over the world. Likewise UK players have no restrictions under the law from playing at sites from any country they wish.
While many of the UK parent companies are controlled by British legislation, servers for UK poker sites are normally offshore in Gibraltar, The Isle of Man, Alderney or Malta, where their gaming licenses are issued. Many of the major UK poker sites parent companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange – including as William Hill, Party and 888, which adds an extra layer of security and safety for concerned players.
There is a new bill going through the British parliament at the moment proposing taxing poker sites whose parent companies are not based ‘onshore’ in the UK. This should not affect players at individual sites, though it may see some operators focus their marketing elsewhere.
If I was to pick one UK Poker site to start playing on, it would be William Hill. Dating back to 1934, William Hill is one of the oldest and most respected names in UK bookmaking. With their land based operations regulated in the UK and online division licenced by the Gibraltar Gaming Commission, the FTSE 250 listed company provides players with a safe environment in which to play and benefit hugely from the famously soft games on the iPoker Network.
Stand-alone giant PokerStars are based on the Isle Of Man, and have a big British following. With more games to choose from than any other poker site, plus very smooth software – this has to be on the shortlist. PokerStars parent company now own Full Tilt Poker too, and you can even transfer your balance between them to enjoy the best of both sites.
Other notable UK poker sites include the fast-growing 888 Poker, Bet365 – another iPoker Network member, and Party Poker – who recently switched over to a ‘social’ model involving missions and challenges.
Depositing to an online poker room in the UK is as easy as making any online purchase. You just need to type in your debit or credit card details and the amount you wish to play with. If you do not wish to use a card, or do not have one of your own, you can purchase a prepaid PaySafeCard from a local retailer instead. When you are moving money between sites you may wish to use an e-wallet, such as Neteller or Skrill, all of which are readily accepted. For larger sums, you could send in a cheque or wire funds from your bank account – make sure you contact your site before choosing those methods.
Getting money off the sites is just as easy and you can have funds transferred direct to your bank account or funded back to your card or eWallet in very short periods of time.
You will find most sites do not deal exclusively in GBP. Most often, you will deposit in Pounds and see your balance converted into US Dollars, which you will use to play. You can withdraw your winnings in Pounds – with a new conversion taking place on that day to get back to this currency. This means that changes in the exchange rates will affect players – though these are not usually too big, as the movements of Pounds and Dollars are usually in the same direction.
Some sites, including PokerStars, will give you the option of holding your money in GBP. In this case you’ll buy-in using dollars and cash out at the same rate for that table. Bear in mind that the iPoker Network are switching over to Euros instead – though there are some cash game tables which use GBP.
If you are a player living in the UK, the online poker and gambling world really is your oyster. With legislation that has essentially created a free market for online gambling, the choice for British poker players is wider and safer than ever. Deposits are easy and withdrawals are quick and generally hassle free. UK players have no issues with sites dealing in USD or EUR as the sites deal with the exchanges fairly, simply using the interbank rate for that day.