Last updated on: March 18th, 2022

Legal Sports Betting in the United Kingdom

Legal sports betting in the United Kingdom has been an option since 1961. The United Kingdom was one of the first countries to embrace the sports betting industry and has some of the most developed laws among countries that allow legal sports betting. The United Kingdom is famous for establishing the first sports betting exchange. In a betting exchange, you don’t bet against a bookmaker or against fixed odds, instead, you’re betting against other bettors. Betting exchanges offer higher odds and allow bettors to set their own odds for any sporting event. The betting exchange also gives bettors the opportunity to trade their bets as prices can fluctuate before and during a sporting event giving bettors plenty of opportunities to find ways to make a profit.

The United Kingdom sees more sports bets placed than any other country in Europe. The menu of sports you can bet on legally in the United Kingdom is vast. Football, basketball, American football, hockey, eSports, boxing, golf, tennis, and cricket are all sports that can be bet on legally in the United Kingdom. With minimal legislation, many sportsbooks can advertise their brand and odds without government regulation. In the United Kingdom, you can also place legal wagers at any of the major legal sports betting venues because most venues are partnered with gambling companies and operate booths or have roaming bet takers throughout the venue.

The Legality of Sports Betting in the United Kingdom

The legality of sports betting in the United Kingdom has a long history of reform and industry-leading laws. The Gaming Act 1845 made the United Kingdom one of the first countries to allow betting on horse racing. Horse racing would see another form 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 United Kingdom has embraced sports betting assimilating it into its culture. The Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 legalized additional forms of gambling in the United Kingdom, allowed for cash betting either by post or in person and made it legal to open a betting shop. The next form of legislation would come nearly half a century later with the Gambling Act of 2005. This act created the Gambling Commission which would regulate all forms of betting in the United Kingdom. The Act also allowed gambling companies to advertise freely if they complied with the Gambling Commission.

Furthermore, the act made gambling debts legally enforceable which helps ensure people that win their bets will get paid. The Gambling Act of 2005 was revolutionary because it was the first time a bill was signed into legislation to regulate online gambling. In order to deter sports matches from being fixed or interfered with, the 2006 Fraud Act was passed, making sports corruption a criminal offense. The Gambling Licensing and Advertising Act of 2014 required remote gambling companies to register with the Gambling Commission if they wanted to continue operating in the United Kingdom. Shortly after the Point-of-Consumption Tax was passed. This placed a 15% tax on all foreign-based United Kingdom sportsbook operators.

Is Online Sports Betting Legal in the United Kingdom?

Yes, online sports betting is indeed legal in the United Kingdom and is one of the best ways to get in on the action. With online betting, it does not matter where you are in the UK, you can find the best betting lines for major leagues. You do not need to travel to a physical sportsbook in order to wager on your favorite team in the EPL. There are currently over 500 online sportsbooks that operate in the UK. These include big dame European sportsbooks like Paddy Power, Betway, and BetOnline. The UK has consistently been a major player in the mobile and online sports betting arena and continues to supply all sports bettors with the best odds on offer.

United Kingdom Sports Betting Markets

London is the United Kingdom’s largest individual betting market with a population of nearly 9 million people. Soccer is the most popular sport among UK bettors, and London is home to five different English Premier League (EPL) teams. After soccer, horse racing is the next most wagered-on sport with the country’s 60 licensed horse racing tracks. Other popular sports in the UK include tennis and cricket. Expect the 2023 World Cup to bring a huge volume of cricket bets in England.

UK Betting by Sport

  • Football (soccer) 48.4%
  • Horse Racing 28%
  • “Other Sports” 9.7%
  • Tennis 5%
  • Virtual Betting 3.2%
  • Dog Racing 3.1%

Betting NFL London

Possibly the biggest sports betting event in the U.K. is when the NFL comes into town. Coming more popular and more regular, betting on NFL London games is one of the biggest draws for American football betting fans in any of the U.K. countries. While local betting parlours will feature NFL lines, the best U.K. sportsbooks that take action on NFL football will break down prop bets even more. Be sure to sign up in time for these events, which generally take place in October or November.

Where United Kingdom Sports Betting Revenue Goes

The sports betting industry generates a lot of revenue for the United Kingdom. In 2020, the gross gambling yield (GGY) in Great Britain was 5.89 billion British pounds (~$7.75m). Recent studies suggest the online gambling market in the UK to grow by more than $80m by 2024. Between the 15% tax on foreign sportsbook operators and a fully developed gambling market, the sports betting industry in the United Kingdom is one of the best in the world. The United Kingdom does send some of the revenue back into the sports that the wagers are being placed on. The revenue also goes back to the workers as the industry employs over 100,000 people and generates £700 Million ($862.53 million) in tax revenue.