A Quick History Of Online Gambling In The UK

Gambling continues to be a topic of controversy and debate around the world, but it’s a pastime that has been around for centuries. 

From Romans playing dice and betting on their favorite Gladiators to British soldiers betting on a board game similar to backgammon, and royals and aristocrats bet on jousting and chariot races. 

Modern-day gambling has evolved quite a bit with online gambling growing at a rapid rate. 


Here’s a quick history of online gambling in the UK.

Primary Types Of Gambling


Let’s first look at the three primary types of gambling. 

Gaming is the first type of gambling, where skill is part of the equation—but there is always an element of chance. This includes cards and traditional casino games. The second type of gambling is known as wagering, where participants place bets on expected outcomes. 

Statistics can be applied to wagering, but it’s essentially a game of chance. This includes betting on horse races, boxing, and sports. 

Lotteries are the last type of gambling. Lotteries are entirely a game of chance but the cost per ticket is typically low, so the risk is low. In today’s digital world all 3 types of gambling can be played online.

The Evolution Of Gambling In The UK


In the UK gambling and wagering were initially reserved only for royals and wealthy. This certainly didn’t stop the lower classes from gambling, but they did so at the risk of breaking the law. 

The wealthy wagered on everything from horses to cockfights and the stock market, while dice and board games were the top choices for the poor.

King Henry VIII was an avid gambler, but he banned gambling in the UK as he believed it distracted his soldiers from their commitment to their kingdom. However, King Henry’s daughter Queen Elizabeth felt quite differently about gambling. 

She introduced Royal Charter Lotteries in 1569 and 1585 with a prize of £5,000 and immunity from petty crimes. This was a fortune at the time. Not bad, but today the largest UK lottery win was in 2019 for £170m.

The money earned helped fun expeditions, and as explorers and crusaders returned from expeditions, they introduce global games to the UK gambling scene—both legal and underground. 

However, Queen Elizabeth wasn’t the only royal to leverage lotteries for growth and sustainability. James I allowed The Virginia Company to hold a lottery to finance the new US settlements and Charles I financed London’s water supply with lotteries.





The First Legalized Gambling In The UK


The first national lottery of England was authorized by Parliament in 1694. Over the years national lotteries dealt state bonds, helped fund the building of the Westminster Bridge and British Museum, and reduce national debts. Private lotteries were outlawed in 1721, and due to rigging, the national lotteries were outlawed from 1823 to 1993.

As rigged lotteries and betting scams continued to increase, two gambling prohibition acts were passed. The first was the Gaming Act of 1845 which still allowed betting, but the Betting Act of 1853 brought that to an end too. The only form of gambling not criminalized at the time was betting at the horse races, which only the wealthy could afford to attend. Unregulated street betting continued but the laws got tighter after the 1906 Street Betting Act. Countries around the world had similar struggles with their lotteries and gambling, as highlighted here in this New York Times article.

Later in the 1900s, the Royal Commissions on Lotteries and Betting began to explore how gambling could be regulated, and like in generations past, fund new and existing government programs. It took awhile but by 1960 government-licensed shops allowed legalized betting. Betting shops started opening at a rapid pace, including spots with slot machines. The Casino Club Port Talbot opened in 1961. This member’s only club was believed to be the first legalized casinos in the UK.

With the success of the first few casinos and betting shops, the Gaming Act of 1968 further relaxed gambling laws and more casinos started to open. Seeing the success of super casinos for tourism and revenue the Gambling Act of 2005 was passed, with luxury casinos and casino hotels to follow.

Introducing Online Gambling


The first regulated online casino InterCasino was opened in Malta in 1996, welcoming gamblers from around the world, including the UK. They utilized advanced Cryptologic technology to ensure secure online transactions. By 1997 there were over 200 online casinos around the world. The UK and all countries who had yet to legalize online gambling kept a close watch. By 1999, UK gamblers could play any kind of casino game they wanted online, including multi-player poker and on sites that allowed players to chat with global gamers.

To ensure safety for their players, the UK Gambling Commission enacted The Gambling Act of 2005. It required all sites serving the UK to be licensed through the commission. This act also opened the door for UK-based gambling sites. Today you can gamble or place any kind of bet online that you can think of. Slot machines, poker, casino war, roulette, sports betting, boxing, horseraces, and more.

While the UK is progressive in its stance on both live and online gambling, the United States continues to have restrictions. Gambler’s Daily Digest takes a closer look at gambling restrictions by each state.

It’s Easy To Attract New Gamblers


To entice new players to give online gambling a try, digital casinos offer sign-in bonuses for new players. This might include free cash once you place a minimum deposit or free slot machines spins.

Lucian Marinescu of Online Casino Games shares one of their reward strategies: “Slot machines continue to be one of the most popular casino games, at both live and online casinos. This is why we offer no-deposit, no bonus spins so that players can give our slots a try before they commit.”

Why People Continue To Gamble


While the types of bets and games played continue to evolve, gambling remains highly lucrative for live and online casinos, as well as the governments who earn their gambling taxes. Gambling has always been something players from all incomes and walks of life enjoy. Weekly Slots News looks at a few of the top reasons people love to gamble. This includes:

·  The thrill of taking a risk
·  Entertainment while on vacation
·  Socializing with friends
·  Making new friends
·  Escaping reality
·  The dream of winning big

The Appeal Of Online Casinos


Online casinos may not be as social as live casinos, but the graphics are fun and flashy. You can play from the comfort of your own home and there are countless games to choose from. As mentioned earlier slots are popular, but you can learn to play a few new games. While games like poker take practice and skill, newer games are being introduced—like casino war. Check out this Casino War review as this hot new card game is super easy to learn and is attracting new live and online players.


One thing is for sure, gambling in the UK and around the world will continue to evolve! 

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