United Kingdom online casinos
Online casinos in the United Kingdom are fully regulated and 100% legal. The industry is estimated to be worth well over the billion-pound mark annually and has a huge base of regular players.
Brits can sign up at “offshore” online casinos but the World Gambling List wholeheartedly endorses playing at casinos regulated by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, or another respected jurisdiction based in a territory governed by the Queen, such as Gibraltar or the Isle of Man.
While slots are the biggest revenue generator for online casinos, other popular games include poker, blackjack, roulette and, increasingly, games of skill and virtual sports.
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British citizens do not have to look far to find an online casino, with many of the biggest and best advertising regularly on free-to-air and pay TV. These include global giants such as 32Red and bookmakers who have ventured into lucrative casino wagering such as Bet365 and William Hill.
Some of the more important things to look out for when choosing which casino to play at from the UK include where they are licensed, whether they support Great Britain Pounds (Sterling), what software the casino uses, customer service and, of course, the website’s reputation.
It pays to do your homework on a casino at independent review websites such as this one, although many are run by people trying to steer traffic to their own casino (if only WGL could afford its own casino).
Genesis Casino: A top UK online casino, Genesis has over 1300 games, including over 500 on mobile. While focussing largely on slots, Genesis Casino also has Evolution Gaming live casino titles. The Casino also has some great promotions and bonuses which you can read about in our Genesis Casino review.
Deposit & withdrawals at British casinos
Because the UK is a fully regulated gambling environment it means there are minimal issues with deposits and withdrawals when you are playing at an online casino based in its jurisdiction.
All in all, you should be able to be playing with real money at an online casino within five minutes of signing up. As a general rule you visit the banking or cashier section of the casino to begin making a deposit.
You then select what type of deposit you wish to make, with credit and debit cards and bank transfers among the more common methods. At the time of writing, 32Red had more than 10 deposit methods available.
Popular deposit methods:
- Visa: Visa and other credit and debit cards, including their prepaid versions, are the No.1 deposit method at online casinos.
- Paypal: A global payment processor that is happy to operate in the UK because it is a regulated environment. Other countries, including the USA, do not have this option to deposit at online casinos.
- Wire transfers: This is a traditional deposit method, where you transfer money from your bank account to an account held by the casino. If you are in the UK this should be facilitated overnight if you are playing at a casino regulated in the UK.
- Ukash: This option is accepted at most gambling sites. You can buy Ukash vouchers at various shops in the UK and online.
- Boku: An SMS deposit method at UK casinos, Boku casinos have sprung up at a rapid rate in recent times, Essentially allows you to fund your gambling account with your phone bill.
- PaySafeCard: A deposit option allowing you to deposit money at casinos. Works much like Ukash in that you buy the card from a retail shop.
- Entropay: Works in much the same way as a Visa or MasterCard except it’s virtual. You charge up your account with a credit or debit card on the web.
- EcoPayz: A popular web wallet that works by linking a credit or debit card to your account.
- Skrill: Formerly known as Moneybookers, Skrill is a web wallet which allows you to instantly fund your online casino account.
- Neteller: Another popular web wallet solution, it works by linking a credit or debit card to your account. A real plus of Neteller is you can withdraw back to your account almost instantly.
Withdrawals usually take about a day to be processed and a further day to be finalised in the financial system. While you can withdraw to web wallets, the most popular ways are a bank transfer and a cheque sent out in the mail.
Games at British online casinos
As one of the better licensing jurisdictions there are few games not available. The slots are the most popular game for UK players, as well as many poker variants.
One of the better parts of online casinos is that they serve high rollers and people with smaller bet limits equally as well. There is no discrimination if you are spending just a few quid a spin on a roulette wheel, just like online casinos won’t steer clear if you are wagering £10,000 each spin.
Slots: Often called puggy machines in the UK, online slots are popular right across the country. Some of the more popular software developers for slots are Microgaming, Playtech and Betsoft.
Blackjack: Online casinos will have various versions of 21 available, including live dealer games.
Roulette: Much like blackjack, roulette is one of the more popular games available. You will find it with live croupiers and in RNG form at casinos licensed in the UK.
Poker: While you can play Texas Hold’em at poker sites such as PokerStars and Full Tilt poker, the versions you will find at online casinos are played against the dealer. Casino Hold’em, Caribbean Stud, 5 Card Stud and 5 Card Draw are just some of the variants you will find.
Baccarat: While not insanely popular at online casinos in the UK it does have a steadfast fan club. You will find games with huge bet limits.
Housie: Known as Bingo in some quarters, UK punters are smitten with this game. We’ll do further articles on this in the future, but for now rest assured it’s available at online casinos.
Lotto: The face of lotto has changed forever; it is now possible to play a live game of lotto at online casinos. Basically you pick your numbers and every few minutes they have a draw. Keno is also growing in popularity at online casinos.
Virtual games: Various sports and other events have been made into animated games that give you odds and allow you to wager real money on them.
Basically if there is a game you have seen at a land-based casino you will find it at the online equivalent. Much will depend on what software the online casino uses.
Online casinos have invested heavily in the development of mobile games. Unlike most of the world, the UK has many real money apps readily available from the Apple App and Google Play stores.
This doesn’t mean you must download an app to play at an online casino. You can simply visit their mobile website and play instant-play games, even making a web app for quick access.
The game and deposit selection at mobile casinos will not be as great as on a PC or Mac, but you will find there are enough games and it’s improving all the time.
Timeline of major events in UK online casinos
November, 2019: Shares plummeted in UK online gambling companies as MPs from the cross-party group on gambling related harm told parliament that online slots should be subject to the same restrictions placed on fixed-odds betting terminals, which is currently set at £2 per spin. Estimates are that the change will cost gambling companies £1.2bn. Sources at UK online casinos have told the World Gambling List that they fear it will force punters to play with offshore online casinos, where no such restrictions will apply.
UK online casino laws
The biggest and arguably the most respected licensing body is the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. This body also oversees all land-based gambling, including betting shops and casinos.
From an online casino’s perspective it must have a remote gambling license, issued by the UKGC, if it has any part of its operations based in British waters, or ‘transacts’ with or advertises to punters based in the UK.
The gambling commission places conditions on online casinos operating in the UK, and has a code of practice which outlines things such as not targeting minors or people in a disadvantaged climate, and also offers assistance to those who may be deemed ‘problem gamblers’.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission, on September 5, 2018, announced it was calling for for feedback on proposed changes to gambling operators rules surrounding age verification checks and other perceived pitfalls of running a safe and fair website.
The other two licensing bodies that fall under British rule are Gibraltar and the Isle of Man, which both place similar high standards on casinos issued with their licence.
The Isle of Man, one of the pioneers of online wagering regulation in 2001, uses e-gaming as a way to prop up a shaky economy, with many casinos and sports betting sites basing themselves in this British dependent territory. You will often see officials from IOM promoting their country at e-gaming conferences around the world.
Gibraltar is another respected jurisdiction, although not as popular as the IOM, with brands such as Ladbrokes and casino software developer NetEnt holding licences with this body.
VIP programs at UK casino sites
The UK has one of the most developed online gambling industries in the world, with most online casinos having extensive VIP programs.
VIP programs give players added perks, which allow them to receive things like exclusive bonuses, dedicated account managers and cash back deals, plus many more things.
At the beginning of 2020 a report has emerged via the Guardian newspaper, which has shed a light on just how important VIP programs are to the gambling industry.
The report shows one operator made up 83% of of all its deposits from just 2% of the total deposits, while 5% of another casinos’ patronage made up 58% of its deposits.
The report on VIP programs in the Guardian pointed to the high total of VIP deposits, but it failed to mention that the percentage of VIP deposits was not losses, rather how much has been deposited.
Commonly asked questions about online casinos in the UK
Is cryptocurrency allowed for online casino deposits? The United Kingdom as of January 10, 2020, has handed responsibility for cryptocurrencies to the Financial Conduct Authority, with a great emphasis on stopping illegal practices. So far there has been no progress in making it possible for UK casino players to deposit to their accounts with cryptocurrency.