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Legality behind UK Online Gambling

The United Kingdom is home to one of the largest online gambling markets in the world and there are literally hundreds of fully licensed gambling portals currently operating in the UK. These sites offer services to UK players and to online gamblers from around the world. At the time of writing, there are no laws that prohibit any forms of online gambling and there are also no laws that prevent UK players from placing real cash wagers at an online gambling portal.

UK gaming sites mainly include online casinos, online sportsbooks (sportsbetting websites), online poker sites and online bingo/lottery sites. The major licensing jurisdiction in the United Kingdom is called the UK Gambling Commission and this reputable authority grants licenses to companies who are looking to set up a real cash gaming site. This gaming license enables successful applicants to then legally operate from within UK borders and offer its services to UK players and to players from around the world.

A hefty 15% tax on Gross Gaming Revenue meant that many operators have looked elsewhere for a gaming license where less tax was imposed and therefore many top UK gambling portals were licensed in various tax-havens around the world including Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, Alderney, Kahnawake, Curacao, or even in Antigua & Barbuda and NOT in the UK.

Unfortunately for the operators who did obtain a license from elsewhere but continued operating in the UK, the fairy tale ended in November 2014. New UK online gambling legislation came into effect on November 1st 2014 and this meant that these offshore operators who aim their business towards the UK market could no longer get away without paying UK taxes.

This decision was initially challenged but quickly rejected and this delay only postponed the new legislation coming in to effect by one month. Just before the new law did finally come in, many operators simply withdrew their gambling services from the UK market rather than pay proposed hefty taxes. The new legislation stipulates that remote operators must abide by the UK’s new legislation and obtain a UK Gambling Commission license if it wants to operate in the UK, otherwise face a fine and/or prosecution.


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