The UK gambling industry offers diverse forms of gambling to the public including casino games, sports-betting, bingo and gaming machines. All these are available on the high street and online from operators who hold the necessary licences issued by the Gambling Commission and local authorities. You are advised to check on an operator's website which of its products is licensed and by whom, and whether you are satisfied from a review of the regulator's site that you will be adequately protected if you play.
For information about the Gambling Commission, the regulators of the British gambling industry, please go to www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk.
Some more financial market-based products (such as 'contracts for difference') are not licensed by the Gambling Commission, and may be licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (www.fca.org.uk) or even by foreign regulators (in the case of some binary options).
As a general rule, the minimum legal age for gambling in the UK is 18 years old. This applies to adult gaming centres, betting shops, bingo halls, casinos, racetracks and online gambling. The exceptions to this are the National Lottery, lotteries and football pools – you’re allowed to take part in these from the age of 16 as well as some non-commercial gambling, or low stakes and prizes gambling. However, some gaming machines, such as coin pushers, teddy grabbers and some lower stakes fruit machines in family entertainment centres and amusement arcades don’t have a minimum legal age and are open to anyone. Note that a person who is over the age of 16 and under 18 who participates in gambling (not permitted under these exemptions) is also guilty of a criminal offence.
The industry code for socially responsible advertising can be found here. More information about the code, including details about how to make a complaint about an advert, can be found here. Adverts should usually include a link to our website.
Currently in the UK games that do not enable you to win anything in money or money's worth fall outside regulation. However the worldwide popularity of some of these games which are constructed be highly interactive, sociable and compelling (particularly where they bear a resemblance to play for real casino games), may ultimately prompt regulators in the UK and elsewhere to regulate.
Financial spread betting is not regulated by the Gambling Commission in Britain, rather it is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. This means that companies offering financial spread betting opportunities to customers have to be licenced by, and abide by the rules set out by, the FCA. You can check with the Financial Services Register to make sure a company holds a licence to operate in the UK. There are some similarities between spread betting and gambling: the outcome of the financial transaction is uncertain and there is a risk of losing your money. These factors can lead to people finding it difficult to control the amount of time and money they spend on spread betting. Anyone experiencing difficulties with spread betting can seek help and support from the National Gambling Helpline 0808 8020 133 and the National Gambling Treatment Service.
GambleAware does not deal with complaints about gambling. Find out more about how to complain here.