Written by: Joseph Falchetti, Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert
Last updated:
12 minute read

United Kingdom Sports Betting

UK Sports Betting

UK Sports Betting
Status:Legal & Licensed
B&M Availability:Lawful
Online Availability:Legal & Licensed
Minimum Age:18+

The United Kingdom sports betting industry has the most developed laws in the international gaming community. The oldest sportsbooks in the world began in the UK, including one which started in the 19th Century. The UK sports gambling community also produced the world’s first sports betting exchange, where gamblers do not bet against fixed-odds, but instead wager in a betting pool.

This guide to UK sports betting discusses the full British bookmaking market. We discuss the sports betting laws throughout the United Kingdom, while also pointing out individual laws and traditions specific to England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Our UK sports betting page provides recommendations, too. Not only will you learn the legality of sports betting in the UK, but we’ll point out the best sportsbooks in the British Isles.

United Kingdom Sports Betting Legality

Land-based and online sports betting are legal in the United Kingdom. Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks like Ladbrokes and William Hill have existed in England for generations. The Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 legalized land-based UK sports betting operations. The Gambling Act 2005 placed a new set of regulations on sports betting, while establishing the UK Gambling Commission to oversee all forms of betting in the United Kingdom. Betting shops dominate the landscape in England, with over 9,000 in total throughout the United Kingdom. Ladbrokes-Coral has over 4,000 betting shops, William Hill owns 2300 of them, and Betfred owns over 1320 betting shops. Betfred has a monopoly over the Tote betting services (betting pools), but announced recently that it would close 49 of 51 racetrack betting shops in July 2018.

Online Options in the UK

Online sportsbooks like 888sports, Betway, Paddy Power, and BetOnline accept real money players from the UK. Along with nearly 500 online bookmakers in all, land-based operators like William Hill, Ladbrokes, and Betfred all have online sports betting sites. Online sports betting exchanges like Betfair, BETDAQ, and Matchbook also accept real money bets from UK punters. In December 2014, the British parliament passed the Point-of-Consumption Tax, which imposes an additional 15% tax on foreign-based UK bookmakers. While operators complained, the United Kingdom remains one of the most competitive sports betting jurisdictions in the world, which is good for UK bettors.

UK Gambling Laws in Scotland, Wales, and N. Ireland

The United Kingdom comprises England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, so the gambling laws in one country are the same as in the other three. The Gambling Act 2005 transferred authority for land-based casino licensing from magistrate courts to local municipalities, so Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish officials have more authority in licensing than before. The UK Gambling Commission controls all online and remote licensing, so online sites operating in all four regions follow the same laws and regulations. Among countries in the British Islands, only the Republic of Ireland has different online sports betting laws.

Republic of Ireland and Gambling

Since it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1921, the Republic of Ireland has had different gambling laws than the United Kingdom. The Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956 established land-based gambling, but was considered archaic. This led the Republic of Ireland to create the Casino Regulation Committee in 2006 to oversee land-based and online casinos. The Betting Amendment Act 2015 states that remote or online gambling operators who refuse to pay winnings can have their license removed. Bettors can expect to see their winnings paid, because failure to do so would cause regulatory troubles for the remote operator.

  • Betting Act 1931: Established laws over bookmaking in the Irish Free State. Most of these laws were updated in 2015 (see below) by the Irish Free State’s successor, the Republic of Ireland.
  • Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956: Allows land-based gaming in a strictly limited environment. Casinos are illegal, but private gambling clubs are allowed. The Gaming and Leisure Association of Ireland (GALA) provides details of licensing for private casinos. The Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 prohibits the enforcement of gambling debts in courts (except when contracts are signed).
  • Greyhound Racing Act of 2001: Legalized horse and greyhound race betting, but outlawed fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). Allows Irish residents to place bets with online casinos not based in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Betting (Amendment) Act 2015: Repealed most of the laws in the Betting Act 1931. Modernized remote and online gambling for big Irish bookmakers like Paddy Power Sports and Boylesports.

Safety of Online Sports Betting in the UK

Excellent betting measurementThe UK Gambling Commission regulates all brick-and-mortar and online sports betting for UK residents, so it is the safest online sports betting jurisdiction in the world. Many of the online sportsbooks are publicly-traded companies on the London Stock Exchange. Both governmental and economic reasons require online sportsbooks in the United Kingdom to provide a safe, secure, and fair gaming environment.

All of the best payment methods are allowed in the UK, premium is put on responsible gaming. Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, and Bitcoin are accepted payment methods. Over 70 blockchain patents are pending in the UK Patent Office, so the UK will be the cutting-edge jurisdictions for even greater improvements in bitcoin deposits and withdrawals.

Catering to UK Sports Bettors

UK sports bettors have the best opportunities, because competition between bookmakers is so fierce. Sportsbook deposit bonuses might not be the biggest offered, but they are big enough and (importantly) have the fairest terms and conditions. Bettors receive special promotions on English Premier League matches, so EPL bettors receive the best betting opportunities in the world.

English racebook customers receive support from the oldest racebook industry anywhere, since betting on racehorses was legalized by the Gaming Act 1845. Due to the presence and influence of UK-based responsible gaming organizations like GamCare, responsible gaming is a watchword among UK sportsbooks, so players receive the most resources for their particular sports betting concerns.

Online Sports Betting in the UK

A breakdown of what it’s like to bet online sports in UK

Top United Kingdom Sports to Bet On

  • soccer / football
  • tennis betting
  • horse betting
  • hockey betting
  • baseball betting
  • golf
  • nfl football
  • basketball betting


  • gbp currency
  • euro
  • usd
  • btc currency


  • british english
  • french

These options may not be available at all sportsbooks, but represent a typical experiences.

Top Two Sports to Bet on in the UK

  1. Football (Soccer) Betting – Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, and betting on soccer in the UK has reached £449.44 million. Events watched worldwide have a huge following in the UK, where sports betting is legal.
  2. Tennis Betting – Surprisingly, tennis is the second most popular sport that UK punters place wagers on. It has grown in popularity thanks to online and in-play betting.

Popular Currencies Accepted at UK Betting Sites

  1. Bitcoin – With the rise of Bitcoin and all of its features, betting sites that accept UK punters have begun to accept this cryptocurrency. It allows you to safely make deposits and withdrawals, as well as staying relatively anonymous.
  2. British Pound (GBP) – UK sites and bookies accept the British Pound as one of the main currencies to use when placing a wager.
  3. US Dollars – One of the most internationally recognized currencies, the US Dollar is one option you will find at all of the best UK sports sites online.

Best UK Betting Sites

Each country has sports betting sites which are better for it residents. Whether it’s the payment methods, game selection, or customer service, bettors in a specific country are going to prefer a particular bookmaker. For the United Kingdom, Betway and 888 Sports are our recommendations for best UK betting sites. The UK Gambling Commission licenses them, meaning they have trust of the world’s best regulator — and cater to British sports betting tastes.

Top Ranked UK Betting Site — Betway Sports

  • Lots of promotions throughout the year.
  • Betway Plus rewards program for players.
  • Betting markets have soft odds.
  • Live streaming options for sporting events.

Why bet at BetWay?

Betway Sports (read review) has an excellent reputation in the UK, because it offers the full range of sports betting: daily football matches, in-play betting, eSports, etc along great bonuses such as a 100% Up To £30 sign up bonus. Betway is licensed in the UK and Malta, so its customer support is tailored for British sports bettors. Payouts are fast and safe, making Betway our top ranked UK betting site. Check out Betway Sports to place bets and win!

Great for Betting on International Sports — 888 Sports

  • One of the most trusted betting sites in history.
  • Lots of promotions and bonuses throughout the year..
  • Some of the best betting software online.
  • Massive wagering limits.

Why bet at 888 Sports?

888 Sports (read review) is our recommendation for the best international online sportsbook. 888 Sports has dedicated sections not only for the Premier League, but also LaLiga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Champions League, and World Cup. Outside of European football, 888 Sports features top international sports like Formula 1 racing, ATP and WTA tennis, NFL football, and NBA basketball. International cricket, golf, and horse racing all have their sections.

Bettors can browse through the Live betting, 888 Specials, and “Starting Soon” categories to get comprehensive, global coverage of sport bets. Aditionally 888 Sports has great bonuses such as a Bet €10 To Get €30. 888 Sports is licensed in the UK, Gibraltar, and Ireland, so it has the highest level of trust for both UK and international sports bettors. Check out 888 Sports to place bets and win!

Depositing and Withdrawing in the United Kingdom

Players have the full set of deposit and withdrawal options. Many of the payment processing companies originate from the United Kingdom. Those which don’t want to be involved in the British sports betting industry, so bettors almost always have their first choice when it comes to payment methods.

UK Deposit Options You Can Use

All the best deposit options can be used in the United Kingdom. In the space below, I provide a quick profile of the most popular dozen or so UK deposit options. The payment methods listed below are the most popular deposit methods, but by no means the only ones. WebMoney, Qiwi Wallet, EntroPay, Trustly, Poli, Astropay, and Diners Club all support deposits to UK online sportsbooks.

MasterCard Credit: MasterCard is offered by over 2,000 online gambling sites and 210 countries worldwide. MasterCard credit is a trusted payment option which accumulates rewards as you pay.
Visa Credit: VISA is the world’s largest credit card network and is a deposit method at nearly 2,100 gambling sites. VISA also provides cashback rewards, which (like casino rewards) lowers the house edge.
Bitcoin: Bitcoin is the safest and fastest way to fund an account. Using blockchain technology for privacy and security, identity thieves simply cannot steal your payment information.
Bank Wire Transfer: Bank wire transfer takes the money from your bank account to the online casino. A bank transfer takes longer and require a fee, but is a secure deposit option.
Skrill: Skrill is a virtual wallet that allows you to send money from a credit card, debit card, or bank account. Skrill (Moneybookers) is accepted at over 1400 Internet gaming sites.
NETELLER: Neteller is a safe, fast, and free web wallet. Players send money to Neteller using a credit card or bank account. Neteller is accepted at over 1600 gambling websites.
Maestro Debit: Maestro is the MasterCard debit card. Formerly known as Switch, Maestro allows deposits using a PIN-based security system.
Visa Electron: Visa Electron is a general-purpose debit card from Visa. Electron is accepted at nearly 1,100 online gaming sites, including online sportsbooks.
PayPal: PayPal is a US-based free payment method with a global reach, due to marketing by its parent company, eBay. PayPal has 100% customer protection against unauthorized payments.
Visa Debit: Also known as Visa Delta in some regions, Visa Debit cards are issued by person’s bank and are linked to their bank account. Visa Debit deposits are accepted anywhere Visa Credit is accepted.
Check/Cheque: Checks are orders for a money transfer. A standard check contains the payee’s name/company, along with the account number and bank name of the writer. These take longer to arrive, but are safe.
PaySafeCard: PaySafeCard is a prepaid card with over 300,000 outlets worldwide. PaySafeCard allows users to pay for a variety of online goods and services, including online sportsbook deposits.

UK Withdrawal Options You Can Use

Because the UK sports betting industry is legal and licensed, almost as many withdrawal options as deposit methods are available in the United Kingdom. There are a few variations, so read through the options below to make sure your favorite cashout method is available. Sports bettors should be pleased to know that withdrawal times and withdrawal limits are best in the UK, because of competition between legitimate payment processors.

Visa: VISA withdrawals are free and have an instant process time, though online sportsbooks might have their own withdrawal times. Visa withdrawal limits range between 10 units and 30,000 units.
MasterCard: MasterCard withdrawals are allowed in the United Kingdom. MasterCard cashouts are free and instantaneous, with minimum £10 and maximum £30,000 withdrawal limits.
Visa Debit: Visa Debit cards are accepted by UK online sportsbooks, too. These debits cards have instant and free withdrawals, which also have minimum £10 and maximum £30,000 withdrawals.
Maestro: Maestro is MasterCard’s all-purpose debit card. Maestro withdrawals are available in the United Kingdom. These have the same £10 to £30,000 cashout limits with no fees.
Bitcoin: Bitcoin is a virtual currency which uses blockchain technology to offer safe, private, and fast payments. No other withdrawals will get to your account as quickly.
PayPal: The e-wallet from eBay is an accepted withdrawal option in the UK. PayPal withdrawals are instant and free, with min/max withdrawals limits of £20 and £10,000.
PaySafeCard: PaySafeCard is a UK-based e-wallet which supports online sportsbook withdrawals between £10 and £10,000. When PaySafeCard was known as UKash, it received a business award from the Queen of England herself.
Skrill: Skrill is the e-wallet once known as Moneybookers. Skrill handles free, instant withdrawals between £10 and £38,000.
Skrill 1-Tap: Skrill One-Tap is a service available to Skrill cardholders. It allows payments with one click or tap, and is a helpful payment method for mobile sports bettors. Withdrawal limits range from £10 and £13,000.
NETELLER: Neteller is Skrill’s biggest rival among the web wallets. Neteller withdrawals range from £20 and £50,000, so it is a preferred cashout method for UK high rollers who bet on sports.
EntroPay: EntroPay is a free and instant virtual prepaid card which is accepted by UK sportsbooks. Its free and instant withdrawal limits range between £10 and £30,000.
Bank Wire: Also known as Bank Transfer or Bank Wire Transfer, these withdrawals are free, but take 2 to 10 banking days. This secure cashout method has withdrawal limits between £50 and £100,000, making the payment method with the highest withdrawal limit.
iDebit: iDebit is a secure bank transfer method for sports bettors who want free and instant payments directly to their bank. The withdrawal limits are small, as they range between £20 and £5,000.
Check/Cheque: UK online sportsbooks will send a paper check as a withdrawal option, but it takes 5 to 28 banking days to reach you. This free withdrawal method’s limits are range between a minimum of £1,500 and a maximum of £80,000, so it’s a good payment option for high rollers who don’t mind a wait.
On-Site Facility: For land-based bettors only, these are withdrawals made at a bank kiosk in the facility. The withdrawal limits are dictated by the individual facility, but tend to be quite high.

United Kingdom Sports Betting History

The United Kingdom’s sports betting history began in the mid-19th Century with the Gaming Act 1845, which legalized betting on horse races. The company that would become Ladbrokes was founded in 1886 as a commission agent on horse races. It adopted the name Ladbrokes in 1902. A man named William Hill ran illegal betting operations in the 1920s and 1930s, began operating legally in the 1940s, and took William Hill plc public in 1954. The Horserace Totalisator Board or “Tote” was founded in the 1920s by the Racecourse Betting Act 1928 and improved by the Betting Levy Act 1961. The Tote allowed fixed-odds betting on horse races, which opened the door for fixed-odds sports betting.

The Betting and Gaming Act 1960 opened the door for UK sports betting, casino gambling, and off-track betting shops. William Hill and Ladbrokes each opened thousands of betting shops. In 1967, Fred and Peter Done launched betting shops under the name “Done Bookmakers”, which changed its name to Betfred in 2002. The Gambling Act 2005 updated British land-based, online, and mobile sports betting laws. The 2005 legislation created the UK Gambling Commission, which licenses and oversees top UK online sportsbooks like 888sports and Betway Sports.

United Kingdom Sports Betting Resources

For those who still have questions, here is a list of resources that you can look into to help put your mind at ease about betting on sports online. The list includes the official UK sports betting regulator, along with governmental and non-governmental industry associations. It also includes the official websites for gaming advisors and gaming lawyers, responsible gaming advocates, and help professionals for those struggling with problem gambling. Finally, the UK sports betting resources below contains useful UK sports news sources.

UK Gambling CommissionThe UK Gambling Commission provides regulatory oversight, along with information on the sportsbooks it licenses. The UKGC website provides information on gambling-related legislation, responsible gaming content, a registry of license holders, a list of useful organizations for bettors, and a newsletter signup.
Association of British BookmakersThe ABB is the UK’s association for responsible British bookmakers. Bettors can browse to see ABB membership, read members resources, receive news updates, and get a quarterly newsletter. The site includes industry news, mythbusters alerts, and ABB research on sports betting.
Remote Gambling AssociationThe RGA website represents the global online gambling industry. The Remote Gambling Association promotes fair, honest, safe, and fun Internet gambling. Read its sports betting integrity pages to learn more about anti-match fixing measures and the UK’s anti-corruption plan.
Department for Digital, Culture, Media & SportThe UK’s DDCM&S oversees Internet safety in the United Kingdom. The department’s website provides general online safety information through publications, statistics, and consultations.
UK Sports Governing Bodies ResourceThe UK Gambling Commission provides links to the sports governing bodies in the British Islands. Bettors can follow links to 39 different UK governing bodies, including professional football, tennis, horseracing, golf, and rugby.
Gaming Regulators European ForumGREF is a European gaming regulators association. While it focuses more on continental European gambling, the UK’s sports betting industry certain falls within its purview.
International Association of Gaming AdvisorsThe IAGA is a forum for discussing key issues in global gaming. Its membership including gaming attorneys, gambling executives, regulators, academics, and industry consultants. Those visiting the site can ask questions of IAGA members.
International Association of Gaming RegulatorsThe IAGR is a global organization where gambling-related international regulatory agencies and discuss gaming trends. The expert information provides includes global e-gambling guidelines, regional gaming agency news, and a regulators portal.
BeGambleAwareBeGambleAware is a UK responsible gaming trust with links to gambling resources, plus information on subjects like legal ages, responsible advertising, and social gaming.

About the Author

Joseph Falchetti

Joseph Falchetti

Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert

Joe is the author of the majority of sports betting pages on SBS and he serves as a gambling consultant to our content team. He's been mentioned on Forbes.com as a gaming analyst, and his articles have been linked by larger publications, such as the New York Times.

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