British Casinos

The UK gambling industry is experiencing unprecedented growth in recent years, as the plan to build more than a dozen Vegas-style “Super Casinos” complexes, larger than anything seen in the country before, takes shape. The first of these new generation gambling venues was opened in London, in 2011. The Aspers Casino, London’s largest, offers the staggering number of 70 gaming tables, this in addition to about a dozen poker tables and some 150 electronic gambling machines.

No doubt, the gambling landscape in the UK is one of the most diverse in Europe, with over 100 land-based casino spread all around the country, sports betting and online gambling. UK land-based casinos offer an exceptional variety of casino games, from the all-time classics such as Roulette, Blackjack and Craps, to the more exotic games, such as Kalooki, Mahjong, Casino War and Wheel of Fortune. Poker is also a favorite of British Casino fans, even though the Rake system is prevalent in UK casinos and Poker rooms.

The gambling age in UK casinos is 18. However, unique to the UK, most casinos’ official policy is to require a show of ID only from patrons who appears younger than 21.

Here you can find a complete guide to all casinos in the UK. We dedicated separate sections for casinos in Ireland and Scotland, which you can get to using the sidebar navigation or the links below:

Lottery

Lotteries cannot be run for private or commercial gain and are defined as simple lotteries if all of the following applies:
  • Payment is required to participate.
  • One or more prizes are allocated to one or more members of a class.
  • The allocation of prizes relies wholly on chance.
A complex lottery exists if in addition to the first two points above, prizes are allocated by a series of processes, the first of which relies wholly on chance. The definition therefore includes events which contain an element of skill after the initial process.
There are several types of lotteries but the main types are society lotteries (small and large), private lotteries and the National Lottery (subject to separate legislation).

Land-based gambling

What is the licensing regime (if any) for land-based gambling?

Available licences

There are two types of Commission licences:
  • Non-remote operating licences for land-based activities, which require an accompanying premises licence.
  • Remote operating licences for online activities.
Operators that want to offer remote and non-remote services must hold both operating licences. The provisions contained in the 2005 Act apply equally to both services.
The 2005 Act creates the following categories of operating licences:
  • Casino operating licence.
  • Bingo operating licence.
  • General betting operating licence (with various sub-categories).
  • Pool betting operating licence.
  • Betting intermediary operating licence.
  • Gaming machine operating licence (with various sub-categories).
  • Gambling software operating licence.
  • Lottery operating licence (societies and external lottery managers).

Operating licences

Applications for operating licences are made to the Commission, who will determine (following extensive investigation and having regard to the licensing objectives) whether the applicant is suitable to carry on the licensed activities.
The Commission publishes on its website (www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/home.aspx) its licensing, compliance and enforcement policy statement (at the time of writing, the latest edition was published in June 2017) (see, www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/pdf/licensing-compliance-and-enforcement-policy-statement.pdf) which applies to all operating licence applications. This statement sets out (in broad terms) the principles which are used to assess any application, such as:
  • Identity and ownership.
  • Finances.
  • Integrity.
  • Competence.
  • Criminality.
Eligibility. Any person (worldwide) can apply for an operating licence, however, the Commission must be satisfied as to the suitability of the location of key gambling equipment. In addition, as part of the application process, the applicant must meet the Commission’s suitability requirements.
Application procedure. A non-remote operating licence application can be made via the Commission’s online application system or using the application form on its website, together with various supporting documents (including detailed policies and procedures).
Timing depends on the complexity of the business and corporate structure. In the authors’ experience, applications usually take between two to four months to be determined from the point of submission, but could take up to six months. Land-based casinos are generally considered to be a high impact activity in terms of the Commission’s work, which means that applications may attract a high level of scrutiny and interest.
Duration of licence and cost. Operating licences are granted in perpetuity, subject to lapse, revocation, surrender or suspension. Application fees and annual fees vary according to the category of licence and gross gambling yield. Commission fees are linked to the burden of regulating a particular activity. New fees came into force on 6 April 2017 following the Commission’s joint consultation with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Premises licence

There are five types of licences to enable premises to be used for:
  • A casino.
  • A bingo.
  • An adult gaming centre for making Category B gaming machines available for use.
  • A family entertainment centre, for Category C gaming machines.
  • Betting premises.
A premises licence is not required to provide facilities if they are to be used only by those who are either:
  • Acting in the course of the business.
  • Not on the premises.
Only one premises licence can apply to a particular premises at a time, which limits the type of gambling permitted to the particular type authorised by the licence. The rule is subject to exceptions, most notably in relation to betting tracks, however, no more than one premises licence can operate in relation to any area of the track.
Different gaming machine entitlements apply to different types of premises licences.
The application is made to the licensing authority of the area that the premises are located in. The applicant must hold, or have applied for, an operating licence from the Commission authorising the type of gambling for which the premises are sought. The applicant must have a right to occupy the premises to which the application relates, which can be a freehold, leasehold or tenancy.