Online Gambling in UK
The UK is with no doubt one of the rapidly growing and stable online gambling industry in the world. Even though the online casino industry is relatively young, when compared to the land-based sector, it has won a greater share of the market within a short time. The fact that players get generous bonus offers, fast and secure payouts, a wide range of games is an added advantage to the igaming industry.
The casino industry, especially in the United Kingdom has gone through different changes since the invention of the internet in the early 90s. Initially, people used to gather in pubs to get a few spins in their favorite fruit machines or bet on their hometown football teams to win a few bucks. The first online casino in the UK, Intercasino, was launched in 1996 and was powered by Wagerlogic, an affiliate company of Cryptologic. Other pioneers in online casino software developing in the UK include Microgaming, Playtech, and Net Entertainment. These software developers are dedicated to supplying the market with a wide range of high quality casino games including Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat, Video Poker, Bingo as well as live dealer versions.
This article covers all there is you need to know about online gambling in the UK including; favorite casino games, online gambling laws, mobile gaming, accepted payment methods and reputable online casinos where you can play for fun or real money.
Gambling Laws in the UK
The gambling industry in the UK is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which issues licenses and oversees all the activities to ensure that the laws are adhered to. The UKGC came into existence after the Gambling Act of 2005 was passed into law. Its original function was to start one of the biggest brick and mortar casinos in Manchester city, but it was later shifted to regulating small online casino sites. The eGaming Commission enforces strict licensing standard called License Conditions and Code of Practice (LCCP). The rules dictate three basic criteria which all license holders must follow.
⦁ To uphold fair and open gambling.
⦁ To protect children or minors for partaking in gaming as well as from exploitation by casino operators.
⦁ To ensure that help is offered to those with gambling addiction and other related problems.
The license offered by the UKGC covers all forms of online gambling including casino games, bingo, betting, lotteries, arcades, and many others. Any operator found breaking these laws risks heavy fines as well as losing the license.
The cost of each license will depend on the form of gambling (online or land-based) the operator wishes to provide and the number of games that will be offered.
Popular Online Casino Games
Casino games have undergone tremendous changes, from the classic games to the modern cutting edge, 3D slots, live dealer games, virtual reality games, and mobile-optimised versions. As aforementioned, Microgaming played a vital role by releasing the first online casino game variants in the market. Unlike other developers who specialize in a specific casino game variant, Microgaming creates a wide variety of games. This includes the classic three reeled slot machines, HD slots, Video slots, blackjack, and roulette. Without the creativity and visionary ideas of software developers, online casino gambling, as we know it today could not be existing. The industry owes Microgaming as well as other developers like NetEnt and Playtech a massive debt of gratitude for writing their first programs and protocols from scratch. Today, you will come across hundreds of different online casino game variations available in instant play mode and free play. The good news is that these games are fully optimized to be played across primary gaming devices like Tablets, Smartphones and Desktops.
Live Dealer Games in the UK
Playtech was the first software developer to release live casino games in 2013. This enabled Uk online punters to enjoy both the online and land-based casino worlds from the convenience of their homes. Live dealer casinos use live streaming technology to offer a wide range of table games including live blackjack, live baccarat, live roulette, live to sic bo among many others. Unlike the online casino games that use a random number generator (RNG) software to determine the outcome of the games, live casino games use real human dealers, and they are played in real time. Brick and mortar casinos offer some games whereas others are available on reputable online casino sites. Other software developers that have significantly contributed to the growth of the live casino market include Evolution Gaming and Ezugi.
Online sports betting is another widely practiced activity in the UK. There are dozens of online betting sites offering punters a wide variety of options including Football, Basketball, Volleyball, Hockey, Tennis, Golf, Horse Racing, etc. Besides numerous online betting sites, these companies offer chances for making multiple and huge wins. Also, most Uk betting online sites provide gamblers with the opportunity to participate in different progressive jackpots that are held weekly.
Online Mobile Gaming
UK has an exciting history of mobile casino gaming, which dates back to the first Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) phones that appeared in the early 2000s. At this time, different mobile phones including Motorola, Nokia, and Ericsson supported downloadable games. Although the WAP-enabled games could not be played for real money, they were fun and a great way to pass the time. Java Platform Micro Edition technology was introduced in 2001, and it quickly replaced WAP mobile games. The games offered by Java platform had fast-paced and smooth gameplay. The platform supported different game variants including three reel classic slot and mobile poker which rewarded players with chips to advance to the next level.
The introduction of the first smartphones in 2007 by Apple changed not only how people communicated but also the gaming world. Smartphones had small features and worked more like a min computer. iPhone users were able to download applications from the App Store which included casino games like Texas Hold Em Poker.
About a year later, Google launched its first smartphones which were powered by the Android operating system. This spiked the competition to produce the best casino games for different mobile OS. Whereas Apple might have been the pioneer in the smartphones industry, it was Google that transformed the online mobile gaming world. This is because Apple uses a closed ecosystem that supports iPhone mobile devices only while Android utilises an open system which supports a wide range of mobile makes and models. UK based gamblers can now play an extensive collection of online casino games on the go or from the comfort of their homes, thanks to the invention of HTML5 technology.
Accepted Payment Options
The emergence of real money online casino games led to the launch of many online payment options. Online gamblers needed safe and secure payment methods that will enable them to deposit and withdraw their funds without fear of losing them. The first payment options that were supported by online casinos included visa cards and master cards. Other options that were introduced along included PayPal, Neteller, Skrill, Bitcoin, and Pay by Phone. The modern technology has enabled online casino operators to provide safe transactions using the latest 128/256 bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption software. The software also protects both the players' sensitive information and online purchases.
The Future of Online Gambling in the UK
In just less than a decade, the online casino industry has witnessed incredible innovations and revolution. But what is the future of the online gambling industry in the UK and around the world? According to gambling experts and professionals, the mobile casino industry will take over the PCs gaming market. This is undeniable since mobile technology has changed the lives of people from the way they communicate, mingle, play games, etc. One of the latest innovations in mobile casino gaming is Virtual Reality - VR. The VR casino games are exciting, immersive and fun to play compared to the standard desktop versions. Imagine VR technology is just a single futuristic discovery in the gambling world but it has changed everything, what about five years from now!
Where to Gamble Online in the UK
There are dozens of reputable online gambling sites in the UK. The reason why most punters prefer online casino over their brick and mortar counterpart is that they are safe, convenient and offer an extensive collection of games. However, when choosing an excellent online casino site, especially for beginners, there are several factors you need to consider. Here are some key points to check out:
- Available bonuses and promotional offers
- Security and credibility of the site
- Supported deposit and withdrawal options
- Software developers
- Cross-compatibility gaming devices
- Availability of customer support agents
So, if you are searching for the best online casino and sports betting sites that meet the above requirements, look no more. The following UK based casinos meet the qualities of a good site:
888 Casino and Sports
William Hill Casino and Sports
Ladbrokes Casino and Sports
Betfair Casino and Sports