Great Britain is one of the oldest and most important gambling territories of the betting world. With the rise of the internet it was inevitable that, sooner or later, an authority would come to regulate online betting in the UK. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission was eventually formed under the Gambling Act 2005 and remains Britain’s gambling authority to this day.
Except for betting, it regulates every other gambling activity; such as casino and lottery. It has issued 1000+ licenses to both remote and non-remote betting companies in the UK. Its integrity, fairness and transparency have made it the most respected gambling regulator globally. It therefore comes as no surprise that the world’s biggest bookmakers have a UKGC license.
Best licensed bookmakers in UK
The following table consists of all the bookmakers licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. We have reviewed their odds & markets on all the British sports; along with their bonuses & promotions offered to both new and existing players. Plus, we have assessed their services and withdrawal times.
UKGC's role and responsibilities
The Gambling Commission officially replaced the Gaming Board for Great Britain in 2007 with the duty of overseeing the British gambling market. Apart from regulating betting, bingo, arcades, casinos and slot machines; since October 1, 2013 it began regulating the National Lottery too.
As regards its responsibilities; the Commission’s main goal is to make sure that gambling is devoid of any criminal practice. It also ensures that all gambling activities take place in a fair and open manner. Furthermore, it protects minors and vulnerable groups of people from any negative consequences associated with gambling. Other than that, it issues licenses to gambling operators. It can revoke those licenses and impose penalties or levy fines to any operator who is not complying with its license conditions and codes of practice. Moreover, it carries out thorough investigations on the license holders; to affirm that they use software that is provided by licensed software providers.
UK Gambling Commission: Types of licenses
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission covers all the online gambling activities. This means that if a company wants to get a remote license in order to operate and advertise in the United Kingdom; it should get a separate license for each type of gambling activity. Namely betting, bingo, casino games, arcades, lotteries, gaming machines and even gambling software. Gaming machines though can only be located on betting premises holding a non-remote betting licence.
There are three different types of UKGC licenses for remote gambling: an Operating License, a Personal Management License and a Personal Functional License. Any betting company which provides facilities for remote gambling in the UK will need an operating license. Moreover, a company may also need a remote personal management licence for their senior staff members. That means that every person who is responsible for the financial budgeting and regulatory compliance of a bookmaker; must gain approval for such a license. In addition, a personal functional license might be required for people who are tasked with certain functions within a company.
UK gambling license requirements
When it comes to licensing requirements, the Commission issues the Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP); according to which, the way the gambling facilities and operations are allowed to work is defined. If operators fail to comply with the Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP); then the UKGC will step in. The LCCP is not static; since the Commission regularly makes amendments in order to promote socially responsible gambling. Its latest version has been in effect since October 31, 2020.
Advantages of UK betting companies
Any player who opts for a licensed bookmaker in the United Kingdom; can rest assured that the operator he has chosen is fully compliant with the UKGC’s fair and transparent terms and practices. This practically means that the bookie’s significant terms & conditions and bonus & promotions terms have been reviewed by the UK Gambling Commission pertaining to transparency. Moreover, all operators should clearly demonstrate at the bottom of their website the logo of the Commission; so players can be sure that they are betting on a UKGC licensee. So, let’s take a look at all the pros of licensed bookmakers in UK.
✔ Transparent terms & practices: From May 7, 2019 bookmakers who hold licenses in the United Kingdom; proceed to every action that is required in order to verify their players' age before they can bet. Moreover, they are not misleading players with promotions or advertisements that are not accurate about what they offer. Plus, they use safe payment technologies and take all the necessary measures to avoid and detect money laundering.
✔ Player protection: License holders have taken action in order to protect players that have, or may appear to have, problematic gambling behaviour. So, from March 31, 2020 all Gambling Commission bookmakers should participate in GAMSTOP; which is the self-exclusion scheme for the online sector. This means that any player can self-exclude from all such bookies with a single request. Then the sportsbook must close the player’s account and return his funds.
✔ Financial security: All licence holders have a separate bank account; where they keep their players’ funds. Moreover, players’ funds are not at risk. This means that if an operator decides not to pay its players; bettors can get their money, and perhaps a reparation fee, if they address the UKGC. Operators are also not allowed to remove funds from an account they deem inactive. Plus, players can withdraw their funds at any time; without restriction or maximum withdrawal limits.
✔ Fair complaints resolution policy: All licensees should offer fair and transparent policies and procedures when it comes to resolving complaints. They must give bettors clear information on how to submit a complaint and provide a resolution within 8 weeks of receiving it. However, if a player that has a dispute with a UKGC licensee is not satisfied with the resolution given by the bookie; he can take his complaint to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider, such as the Resolver. He can even escalate the dispute to IBAS.
Disadvantages of UK regulated bookmakers
In the past few years several restrictions have been also imposed on those who gamble on bookmakers with UK license. Players should be aware of those restrictions; since they severely affect the way they bet. For instance, all licensed bookies should apply bonus restrictions to punters who are showing signs of problem gambling. However, there is more to it than that. Therefore, let’s take a closer look at all the cons of Gambling Commission licensees.
Strict identification policies: The UKGC has lately released new rules related to age and identity verification; before someone can gamble online. All its licensees are obliged to abide by those rules. In order to prevent underage gamblers from creating accounts; UKGC bookies take bettors through an extensive verification process. So, they ask their players to verify their age; before they allow them to make their first deposit or place their very first bet. In addition, they ask them to provide several documents so as to get their ID verified (i.e. ID card photo, payment ID copy).
Not accepting credit cards: The ban on credit card gambling that has been in effect in the UK since April 14, 2020; has affected all UKGC licensees and by extension the players who gamble on them. Credit card deposits are not allowed on UK regulated bookies. This means that punters are obliged to look for decent payment alternatives; such as debit cards, direct bank transfers and e-wallets.
Payment-related restrictions: Not many UKGC bookmakers offer cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as a deposit option; since the Commission does not recommend crypto transactions. Furthermore, on February 2, 2021 the UKGC announced that all its licensees are required to prevent reverse withdrawals. This means that players are not allowed anymore to re-gamble money that they had previously requested to withdraw.
Auto-play ban on slots: Along with the ban on reverse withdrawals; the Gambling Commission announced a raft of restrictions for online casino operators, in effort to promote safer gambling. Thus, all UKGC license holders should ban the online slots autoplay feature and include a timeframe of at least 2.5 seconds between each slot spin; no later than October 31, 2021.
Tough licensing requirements: The UKGC has lately tightened its license conditions and has imposed several restrictions on its licensees. The latest, stricter version of the Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) was implemented on October 31, 2020. This came only three days after 3 licensed betting companies in UK failed to comply with the Commission’s anti-money laundering and social responsibility requirements. The tighter regulations have led operators like Royal Panda and 188Bet to cease their operations in the UK.
Newly licensed UK bookmakers
There are players who bet only on established bookmakers due to their long experience and financial stability. However, there are others who are constantly in search of newly licensed bookies, due to the benefits they bring to the table. More specifically, they come with better welcome bonuses, higher odds, a wider variety of payments and handy mobile apps. All new UK licensed bookmakers that are featured on our list, like SportNation & MrPlay; operate online since 2017. They offer a wide array of markets on popular sports in Great Britain; such as football, horse racing and rugby.
Is it worth betting on Gambling Commission bookmakers?
No one can deny the fact that in recent years the UKGC has applied stringent restrictions on all its licensed operators in order to promote safer gambling. Those who bet on them have been affected; especially after the tightening of the rules related to age & identity checks and the implementation of the credit card ban.
Nevertheless, the benefits of gambling on UK licensed betting sites outweigh the downsides. First and foremost; their terms & conditions are transparent and they resolve complaints in a fair way. They also protect the vulnerable by being registered on GAMSTOP. Last but not least; they guarantee their players’ financial safety. So, those who opt for UK Gambling Commission licensed bookmakers can rest assured that their money is safe and focus only on wagering.
Betting has been initially legalized in Great Britain under the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960. The latest law that has been established and is in force until today is the Gambling Act 2005. According to the current legislation all forms of betting in the UK are legal.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), which was formed under the Gambling Act 2005 and assumed full power in 2007, is the regulatory body of all bookmakers in Great Britain. As of October 1, 2013 it also began regulating the National Lottery.
All license applications should be made through the official website of the Gambling Commission (www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk). So, whether you are interested in getting an operating license, a personal management license or a personal functional license, you should submit your application online.
In order to get an operating license you will have to pay a one-off application fee, as well as an annual fee. The exact amount of the fee depends on the type of gambling activities one intends to operate. More specifically, the average cost of an annual fee for a remote betting operating license can range from £3,408 to £281,058.
According to the official figures of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, there are currently 297 British betting companies that operate online. All of them are licensed and fully regulated by the UKGC.
Bet365 is considered the top betting company in the world, since it is trusted by 20 million active players. The famous British bookie is considered no.1 in the UK too. However, Betfair and William Hill are also among the biggest betting companies UK has to offer.
The British government has imposed a ban on credit card gambling since April 14, 2020. This means that betting sites that hold a license issued by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission do not accept credit card deposits.
No it doesn't. However, from May 7, 2019 all UKGC license holders are required to verify their players' age before they start gambling. The minimum legal gambling age UK has established is 18. The only exception to this is the National Lottery, where players can take part from the age of 16.