Here’s a Brief Look at the History of Gambling in the UK


There’s no doubt that playing casino games has always been a popular pastime for people in the UK. While casino gambling has undergone several transformations over the centuries, it has always been a part of cultural significance in the history of the UK.

In this article, we take a walk back in time and dive deep into the UK casino gambling history. Also, we explain how gambling evolved to become a popular pastime among the Brits. Continue reading!

UK casino gambling history: the early modern era

Historical records show that casino gambling had gone mainstream in Britain during the Roman era. And it has almost always never been deemed illegal for the most part. In the past, casino gambling houses and pubs were the go-to choices for UK casino fans.

From time to time, a number of anti-gambling acts like the Unlawful Games Act of 1541 were passed that threatened to make casino gambling illegal. But these acts were rarely enforced by the government.

During the 1500s, the UK conducted its very first public lottery. This was the period in time when Queen Elizabeth I wanted to raise funds to repair the harbours and she saw holding public lotteries as a good way for that. However, the lottery turned out to be quite unsuccessful, with only a few tickets sold. In the 1700s, lotteries became a popular way for Monarchs to fund their wars. However, the practice was put to an end during the early 1800s.

While the masses had their casino gaming houses and pub games, it was horse racing that was reserved for the elite. The UK experienced its first horse racing event in 1539 near Chester and its popularity quickly boomed over the next two decades. However, owing to the limited transport facilities during that period, only people living near racecourses were likely to wager on horse racing events. So, horse racing at that time was limited in scope.

The rise of casino gambling during the Victorian era

The Victorian era is deemed as a key turning point in the history of casino gambling in the UK. This was the time when casino gambling houses experienced tremendous growth. Also, the advent of new technologies made sports betting more accessible to people in the UK.

With the introduction of public transport facilities like trains, people from different regions of the UK could get to a racecourse within hours. Besides, the invention of the telegraph made it possible for bookmakers to transmit odds and other information over long distances. So, even if sports bettors couldn’t physically visit a racecourse, it was still possible for them to place sports bets.

Casino gambling in the 20th-century UK

As mentioned earlier, casino gambling boomed in popularity during the Victorian era. However, there still existed a class divide. Back then, it was uncommon for working-class people to visit a racecourse and place sports bets. But the 20th century brought new opportunities to the UK casino gambling sector.

In 1960, an Act of Parliament was passed in order to legalise sports betting in the UK. The law restricted certain casino games like Bridge and also made it illegal for players under 18 years of age to engage in casino gambling.

The necessity for a law to encompass more forms of casino gaming led to the creation of the UK Casino Gambling Commission (UKGC) in 2005. The UKGC was developed to license, regulate and oversee the operations of casino gambling houses. The organisation received authority over land-based casino gambling venues and online casino UK sites.

Ban on the usage of credit cards for casino gambling

According to the UKGC, over half of the millions of casino players in the UK play casino games online. For many casino players, credit cards were the go-to choice when it came to making online casino deposits. While the top online casinos like ours employ numerous responsible gambling measures, a small portion of casino players using credit cards was still engaged in “problem gambling”. After public consideration and taking the stats into account, the usage of credit cards at both land-based and online casinos was banned in early 2020.

From the early Roman era to today’s online and mobile casinos, casino gambling has come a long way in the UK. The future of casino gambling in the UK will be shaped by the continuous rise and development of online and mobile casino gambling platforms.

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Name: Here’s a Brief Look at the History of Gambling in the UK

Posted On: 19/05/2023

Author: Cameron Riddell

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