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Home > Gambling > Gambling Guides > History of gambling regulation in the UK

History of gambling regulation in the UK

Bingo halls and casinos

Gambling has been a rather popular asset in Great Britain’s culture; however, gambling in bingo was highly popularized during World War 2 amongst the armed forces. After the end of World War 2, the game was highly popularized amongst the greater population when the armed forces returned from battle. After many years of playing bingo and other gambling games, it wasn’t until the 1960 Betting and Gambling Act to allow commercial bingo halls to be set up; however, there was a catch to this: the Betting and Gambling Act of 1960 allowed the commercial bingo halls to be built if they provided that the clubs were restricted to members only and that the management and/or owners only took on commission from membership fees and charges rather than a percentage from per entry fee.

After the end of World War 2, casinos share a similar history with their bingo hall counterparts. By only allowing to be opened if they obtain licensing from the Game Board of Great Britain would casinos be able to open with a maximum number of 10 gaming machines (e.g. slot machines). However this may be, the law was difficult to enforce and thus, by the Gaming Act 1968, construction of true commercial casinos were allowed to be constructed with more games (e.g. baccarat or chemmy).

With many restrictions on bingo and casinos, it wasn’t until the Gambling Act 2005 was established that allowed super casinos to be built (casinos as large as ones found in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States). The Gambling Act 2005 holds three major objectives as (a) preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime, (b) ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, and (c) protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling. With these guidelines, the first super casino was to be build in Manchester in 2007; however, due to review of plans and in accordance to the Governance of Gordon Brown, 16 smaller casinos were to be built instead and any plans to build a super casino in Manchester were quickly repealed.

Gambling in sports

One of the longest running gambling games deals with racing, primarily with horses, greyhounds and football. Although sport gambling was highly popular, it was not until the Betting and Gaming Act 1960 to legalize off-course bookmakers. This has allowed more betting opportunities for many people and, with the help of the Horserace Totalisator Board, or the Tote, more legalised forms of horse betting were allowed.

The lottery

Lottery holds a strong and conflicting history in the UK. In 1698, a statute was formed to make the lottery illegal unless someone was specifically allowed to with a statute. It wasn’t until nearly 200 years later, in 1934, that small lotteries were legalized. The law for the lottery has been further liberalized in 1956 and 1976. However this may be, there could be no large lottery until the government established one.

It will not be until 1994 that the first national lottery was established by the then Prime Minister John Major. Set up under government licensing and giving the license to the Camelot group in 1994, the first numbers drawn for the lottery was held in November 1994 and continued to grow to hold other forms of national lottery. The games include the Lotto, the Lotto Hotpicks, Thunderball, Lotto plus 5, Euromillions, scratchcards and online instant win games.

With the lottery, laws are invoked to ensure eligibility of the players. Players in the lottery must be at least 16 years old, make their purchases in person with a UK bank account (savings and/or checking accounts), and are only eligible if they reside in the UK or on the Isles of Man. If players purchase their ticket online, they must have a bank account and must be physically present at the time of purchase at approved premises in the UK.

What else should you know?

For more information, you can go to the Gambling Commission’s website:


The Gambling Commission was organized in 2005 under the Gambling Act 2005 to regulate majority of gambling and gambling laws. However, the lottery is regulated by the National Lottery Commission and you can find more information about the lottery at their website:


There are many laws in place to ensure legal gambling from bingo to the lottery. If you are of eligible age to take part in gambling, it is imperative that you read and follow the laws in accordance with the Gambling Commission and the National Lottery Commission.

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