Gambling in the United Kingdom has become a pastime in recent centuries, but it wasn’t always. In the 11th Century, monarchs selected who could gamble. Class generally guided this decision since monarchs and upper class had means to place wagers. Fast-forward to the 16th Century and the introduction of the National Lottery, courtesy of Queen Elizabeth I, which opened gambling to all castes. However, three centuries elapsed before real gambling regulations and laws came into effect and saw definition.
The Gaming Act of 1845
Part of this act provided players protection from legal prosecution should they not repay their bets. Another aspect further defined and redefined unlawful games. Tennis, for example, had once been unlawful under the Unlawful Games Act. The Gaming Act authorized police and constables, allowing entry to gaming houses and ability to seize property used in gaming, to detain patrons and staff. This law extended to illegal gambling dens under the guise of a legitimate business. Laws would eventually change, however, not in drastic ways. In between 1845 and 1960, the lawmakers added more restrictions, such as street betting which saw an upsurge in post-war Britian.
The Betting and Gaming Act of 1960
The Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries, and Gaming published papers, proposing new recommendations for gambling laws in the UK. Their papers scrutinized gambling laws and current practices on lotteries, betting, and general gaming. A new act came from their findings and with it, two new laws that would allow cash betting and allowing places of gambling, or betting shops, to operate as long as they received a license.
In 1961, gambling laws went through another round of reform and legalized new forms of gambling. Bridge clubs could legally settle up and pubs introduced slot machines. The idea behind allowing new forms of gambling was to combat the growing street betting, plus legal gambling made for additional revenue through taxes and license fees. However, when practically anyone could obtain a gambling license, criminal enterprises cropped up across Britain and introduced a new problem—seemingly legal organized crime. In the 70’s, new laws would put the criminal activity to rest with tougher regulations to obtain and maintain licenses for Bingo and slot machines. The gaming Board also started directly reporting to the Home Office
The Gambling Act of 2005
With the internet boom arrived online gambling. More revisions came to combat and define changes to the current laws. Fairness rules also took effect with special care to susceptible people and children. Remote gambling would further redefine laws, which also covers telephone, radio, and television in addition to the internet. Internet gaming saw real regulations for UK residents since online establishments would be required to obtain the same licenses as their brick and mortar counterparts.
The Gambling, Licensing, and Advertising Act of 2014
This act includes a 15% tax on profits generated via UK customers. Another change to the law addressed establishments and altered the laws and requirements for obtaining their licenses. This act has been a large success for both gamblers and establishments.