How is Sports Betting Regulated in the UK?

Sports Betting

The United Kingdom was one of the first countries to embrace sports betting as legal sports betting has been an option since 1961. They have some of the most developed laws among countries open to sports betting. The UK is also known for establishing the first sports betting exchange.

There are more bets placed in the UK than in any other country in Europe and they provide a vast array of sports that bettors can bet on legally. These sports include football, American football, hockey, basketball, tennis, boxing, golf, eSports and cricket. Due to the minimal legislation, many sportsbooks can promote their brand and odds without regulation from the government. Bettors can also place legal bets at any of the leading legal sports betting venues partnered with betting companies who provide booths or roaming bet takers within the venue.

The Legality of Sports Betting in the United Kingdom

The UK has a long history regarding the legality of sports betting in terms of reform and industry-leading laws. The Gaming Act 1845 opened the doors for the UK as one of the first countries to legalise horse racing betting. Horse racing then went through another kind of regulation with the Racecourse Betting Act of 1928. This legislation allowed fixed-odd betting on horse racing and created the Racecourse Betting Control Board to regulate the industry.

The UK has embraced sports betting and has applied it as part of its culture. The Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 legalised other kinds of betting in the United Kingdom, allowing for cash betting, whether by post or in person and allowing the opening of betting shops. The next kind of legislation came almost half a century later when the Gambling Act of 2005 created the Gambling Commissions, which regulates all kinds of betting in the UK. Because of this Act, betting companies started advertising freely as long as they complied with the Betting Commission.

The 2005 Gambling Act changed the UK’s betting space forever as it was the first time where a bill was signed into legislation for regulating online gambling. This act also made betting debts legally enforceable which helps inform people that they will get paid for their winning bets. A fraud Act came out the following year to deter sports matches from being fixed or interfered with, which makes sports corruption a criminal offence.

The Gambling Licensing and Advertising Act of 2014 needed remote betting companies to register with the Betting Commission to continue operating in the United Kingdom. The Point-of-Consumption Tax passed a short time later, which placed a 15% tax on all foreign-based sports operators in the United Kingdom.

How About The Legality of Online Sports Betting in the UK?

Online sports betting is legal in the UK and it’s one of the best ways to bet today. It doesn’t matter where you are in the UK, as with online betting, you can find the best betting lines for any of the important leagues, such as the English Premier League. You don’t need to visit a physical sportsbook to bet on your favourite team. Today, there are more than 500 online bookies operating in the UK, including big European names like Betway, BetOnline, and Paddy Power. The UK has been an essential player in the online sports betting space and continues to provide the best odds for all sports bettors.

Sports Betting Markets in the United Kingdom

London is the UK’s biggest individual betting market, with its population reaching almost 9 million people. Football (soccer) is the most popular sport for betting in the UK, and London is home to five different English Premier League teams. Horse racing comes after football as the second most favourite sport for betting with the country’s 60 licensed horse racing tracks. Other sports that bettors love to bet on in the UK are tennis and cricket.

Favourite Sports for Betting in the UK

Here are the percentages of best sports for betting in the United Kingdom, based on the data from

  1. Football (soccer) – 48.8%
  2. Horse racing – 28%
  3. “Other Sports” – 9.7%
  4. Tennis – 5%
  5. Virtual betting – 3.2%
  6. Dog Racing – 3.1%

Where does the Revenue from Sports Betting in the UK Go?

The sports betting industry made a massive revenue for the United Kingdom. The year 2020 generated a gross gambling yield (GGY) in Great Britain of 5.89 billion British pounds (equivalent to USD7.75 billion). Recent studies state that the online betting market in the UK can grow by another $80 million by 2024.

With the 15% tax on foreign sportsbook operators and an entirely developed betting market, the industry for sports betting in the UK is one of the best worldwide. Indeed, the country sends some of its revenue back into the sports where the bets are taking place. The revenue also returns to the workers, as over 100,000 people work in the industry, generating 700 million pounds ($862 million) in tax revenue.


The UK has embraced sports betting and ever since the Gaming Act of 1845; the country has applied the activity as part of its culture. Few regulations come year after year to make betting safer and more enjoyable for the bettors in the UK. The most recent Gambling Act in 2005 has revolutionised the betting industry, which signed into legislation for online betting regulations.

Over 500 online bookies operate in the UK; some of the most popular ones include Betway and BetOnline. Football is the most popular sport for betting in the UK, with London home to five different Premier League Teams. Horse racing comes second place, followed by cricket and tennis. The sports betting industry generated a lot of revenue for the country, wherein 2020 alone has grossed almost 6 billion British pounds. The space is expected to grow continuously and add more than $80 by 2024.

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