Most Popular Bookies in United Kingdom

Sports betting has been a popular activity in the United Kingdom for centuries. Records dating back to 1539 indicate that punters placed bets on horse racing events. Over the years, betting on sports continued to grow in popularity, growing to cover other sporting disciplines. Today, almost half of the adult population in the UK has a history with sports betting.

Legalizing online betting was instrumental in making sports betting widespread in the UK. In addition, more than 80% of adults in the UK have smartphones and access to the internet. That makes online sports betting available and easily accessible to punters, increasing the betting activities in the country.

Most Popular Bookies in United Kingdom

Bookies' marketing efforts are another top reason for the growing popularity of sports betting in the UK. The marketing strategies employed today often make the urge to bet somewhat irresistible. For instance, playing incentives such as welcome bonuses also attract many people into trying out betting, who eventually become regular bettors.

The enabling environment also contributes to the popularity of sports gambling. Betting is legal, but strict regulations ensure punters are well protected. The Gambling Commission is responsible for regulating all gambling activities on behalf of the DCMS, as per the Gambling Act 2005.

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History of betting in the United Kingdom

History of betting in the United Kingdom

The gambling history of the UK can be traced back to the late 1600s. International trade mainly contributed to the introduction of gambling in the country. At the time, most wagers were placed on card games. However, gambling did not grow so much because of the strong religious belief in the country.

During the 1700s, horse racing started to gain popularity in the UK. Racetracks were constructed, and horse racing became an official sport. That led to punters beginning to place wagers on the racing events.

Several bookmakers emerged, offering betting odds for all the different participating horses. Harry Ogden was the first bookmaker to offer odds. At the time, he based odds on the body shape or physique of the horses. He later inserted a profit margin in the odds he provided, which helped ensure the gambling operation's profits and sustainability.

The 1800s

During the early 1800s, there were still no regulations on betting in the UK. Betting became a bit risky for bookmakers, especially those who offered the services away from the tracks. It did not take long before malpractice cases crept into the industry since there was no authority to regulate them.

Debt collectors also came about, hired by the bookies to collect from punters who could not pay after losing wagers. The disagreements got so bad that they resulted in several deaths at some point.

In 1845, a betting act was passed by the Victorian reign. The act was meant to minimize the disagreements between punters and bookies, stating that wagers would not be considered authorized contracts. The act did not change much as gambling addiction was already high among the people. In 1853, another regulation was passed, which prohibited homes from hosting any gambling activities. That resulted in punters turning back to the horse tracks to satisfy their betting needs.

The 1900s

Betting was limited to horse racing for quite a long time until the 1900s. In 1923, soccer pools were also introduced by bookies. Greyhound racing followed in 1926, with many other sports joining later on. In 1960, a betting act was passed, requiring all bookmakers to offer their services respectably to the public. The bookies only needed to follow all the gambling rules laid out to become fully recognizable in the country.

Premier League Effects

According to the 1960 gambling act, punters were allowed to bet on only games aired on television. Sky Sports TV got the rights to air Premier League matches soon after the league was formed. There were several games played each week, giving punters numerous betting options. That led to a significant increase in sports betting in the UK, quickly spreading to other nations.

Online gambling

Online sports betting was introduced during the late 1990s. That marked the most significant change in sports betting in the UK and worldwide. Online betting advanced to include mobile betting, which helped increase the number of punters.

History of betting in the United Kingdom
Betting nowadays in the United Kingdom

Betting nowadays in the United Kingdom

Nowadays, most sports punters place their bets via online betting platforms. The process of placing wagers is easier than it has ever been, including making deposits and withdrawing winnings. Numerous features have also been introduced to make betting on sports more interesting. A good example is live betting, which allows punters to bet on ongoing matches.

Future of sports betting in the United Kingdom

Sports betting is more than likely going to continue being a big deal in the UK in the future. That is based on the ever-increasing revenues generated by the sports betting industry.

Most bookies will continue to operate online because of the numerous benefits of online betting. There is also a likelihood of more features and types of sports bets being introduced to give punters more variety as a way of online betting sites differentiating themselves to survive in the competitive industry.

Betting nowadays in the United Kingdom
Betting Acts in the United Kingdom

Betting Acts in the United Kingdom

The Betting Act 1931

The Betting Act of 1931 was established to help regulate all forms of gambling in the Irish Free State. The laws focused only on land-based casinos. Over time, the laws were considered archaic. That was mainly after introducing online and mobile betting in the country.

The Casino Regulation Committee was formed in 2006, which was charged with overseeing all the gambling activities of both online and land-based casinos and betting providers.

The Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956

In 1956, the Gaming and Lotteries Act was passed. The act permitted land-based gaming but introduced several limitations. For example, casinos were illegal, but the law allowed private gambling clubs to operate.

The Gaming and Leisure Association of Ireland provided the licensing details for private casinos. The act also prohibited the enforcement of gambling-related debts in courts, except for where contracts were signed.

Greyhound Racing Act of 2001

The Greyhound Racing Act of 2001 made betting on greyhound and horse racing legal in the country. However, it outlawed all fixed-odds betting terminals. The act also allowed Irish punters to bet online on betting sites or casinos not based in the country.

Betting Act 2015 (Amendment)

The Betting Act 2015 came about because the existing laws were inefficient in regulating gambling. That was especially the case because of the introduction and growth of the online gaming industry. Betting Act 2015 repealed several laws passed in the Betting Act 1931 and outlined all the online and remote gambling provisions.

Taxes and Other Compulsory Levies for Sports Betting in the UK

The general betting duty is 15% for totalizator and fixed-odds bets, 3% for financial spread bets, and 10% for any other spread bet. Pool betting duty is 15%, and remote gaming duty is 21%.

Betting Acts in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom player's favorite games

United Kingdom player's favorite games


Association football, also called soccer, is the most popular sport in the UK. Currently, there are more than 40,000 football clubs registered in the country. Some of the biggest names in the football world come from the English Premier League.

The Premier League is also known to command millions of supporters worldwide. As a result, most punters in the UK prefer betting on soccer more than any other sport because they can relate more to it.


Rugby Union, simply rugby, is a contact team sport invented in England. It is ranked the second most popular sport in the UK, with more than 300,000 active players in the region and millions of supporters who watch rugby games regularly. Rugby also gives punters numerous betting options, making it popular among punters.


Tennis is another popular sport in the UK, especially among the younger generations. The game does not get as much TV viewership as is the case with football and rugby.

However, many people play it during their free time. The number of tennis players increased during the pandemic as many people had enough free time to pick up their rackets and enjoy the game. Tennis events are also usually featured in nearly all popular sports betting sites in the UK.

United Kingdom player's favorite games
Payment methods in the United Kingdom

Payment methods in the United Kingdom

Punters looking to deposit or withdraw funds from their online betting accounts have various payment options to choose from. Online casino players have diverse preferences based on factors such as convenience and accessibility. Some of the most popular payment options are highlighted below.

Credit and Debit Cards

Credit and debit cards are the most preferred banking options in online sports betting platforms. That is mostly because of how easy it is to transact using the cards. Punters only need to input their card details in the online betting sites to make any transaction. Most United Kingdom citizens already have credit or debit cards, making the process faster and easier even for first-timers.

Digital Wallets

Digital wallets are also quite popular in the United Kingdom. That is because e-wallets make online deposits easier and faster. All transactions are also relatively safe and secure. The main downside of credit or debit cards is that withdrawals usually take longer.

Mobile Payments

Mobile payments are becoming a widely acceptable theme in the current world. The two most popular options are Apple Pay and Android Pay, which bring about the convenience of easy payment. However, punters can use them only for making deposits as they do not support withdrawals.


E-wallets are also very popular in Europe. In 2019, PayPal was ranked the most used online payment option in general. Finding online casinos or betting sites that accept e-wallets is quite easy, as nearly all popular options do.

Payment methods in the United Kingdom
Frequently asked questions about sports betting in the UK

Frequently asked questions about sports betting in the UK

Is betting on sports legal in the UK?

Sports betting is currently legal in the UK. However, there are a few legal limitations. For instance, punters must be 18 years or older to bet legally.

Is it okay to pay for sports betting tips?

Generally, punters should not pay for betting tips. That is because no tips or strategies can guarantee any win. However, tips can help players avoid doing all the research work necessary for making informed betting decisions. In most cases, such tips are usually available online for free.

How much money should a player bet?

The amount to place as a wager usually depends on players' bankrolls. Players with more money to gamble can bet more money. Several financial strategies can also help players decide the right amount to wager for each bet. However, players should always avoid betting money they cannot afford to lose.

How should punters determine which online sportsbook to use?

There are several considerations to make to help determine the right sportsbook. For starters, players have to ensure the betting site is licensed. Other considerations include eligibility, payment options, betting markets offered, user-friendliness, and customer service.

Frequently asked questions about sports betting in the UK