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UK Betting Market in 2018

The UK has always been a punter’s paradise. It’s one of the few countries where you’ll find a regulated, accessible and competitive betting scene that’s had the time to mature into a mainstream entertainment product. Betting’s move online has – if anything – made things even better. It’s brought improved access, increased value, greater opportunity and revolutionary new forms of betting.

It’s clear we’re in the midst of the biggest shift in the UK betting industry since off-site betting was first legalized back in the 1960s. There are still plenty of high street bookmakers – some 8,700 according to last year’s count – but the latest numbers show that online betting has exploded into life:

  • Online gambling now accounts for around 33% of all gambling activity in the UK.
  • In 2016, online bookmakers took in £1.57 billion after winnings had been distributed (gross gambling yield).
  • Betting exchange sites (like Betfair) took in a further £152m.
  • UK-licensed betting sites reported some 22.9 million active customer accounts.

Why is British Sports Betting Booming?

A mature market. We’ve always been a sports-crazy nation, exporters of football, rugby and cricket among many other popular pastimes. On top of that, the early legalization of high street betting has given generations of Brits complete comfort with the notion of betting as an integral part of watching sports, as well as an intuitive understanding of basic betting concepts.

Online sports betting has taken this even further. Now there’s no need to even set foot in a bookies. It’s simply a case of taking your phone out of your pocket and placing a quick wager. What could be easier?

Technological innovation. We won’t go into all the ways the internet has impacted our daily lives, just suffice to say that from hailing a cab to buying insurance, it’s changed everything. Not only has the internet made betting much more convenient, but it’s also brought about the conditions necessary for in-play (live) betting, early cash outs, and mobile betting – three of the main drivers of online betting’s popularity. It’s also allowed bookies to present a much broader and deeper range of markets.

Established regulatory framework. There’s no bigger advantage to being a punter in the UK than the safe and well-regulated online betting environment. Trust is a huge issue, for bookmakers specifically, and internet businesses in general. So, having a longstanding regulatory framework in place, which requires all online betting providers to have a license via the UK Gambling Commission, and to provide effective dispute resolution and problem gambling support, gives British punters much more confidence to bet online than in countries where betting is more associated with criminality.

TV Advertising. Being a fully legal market means that UK betting companies are able to advertise offline on TV and Radio. Developing brand identities and brand awareness in turn has enabled greater consumer choice and knowledge adding to the maturity of the market.

Next Steps with PlayRight

We’re here to help you make the best choices about your internet sports betting. How you get there depends on what’s most important to you.

You can start by checking out our up-to-date overall recommendations for UK punters on this page. From there you can see our full list of betting reviews which cover the whole range of UK betting sites from high street giants like Ladbrokes Betting to new start-ups like Sport Nation. Alternatively our new betting sites page lists our recommended bookies that launched from 2017 onwards. If you’re interested in the betting sites welcome offers we’ve got that covered with our free bets page featuring many exclusive to Playright offers. You can also use our selection wizard to easily do a side by side comparison of the features on different sites.

Whether you’re interested in betting on horse racinggreyhound racing, formula 1 racing, darts, football, tennis, cricketrugbygolfboxing, UFC, snooker or e-sports  – our sports betting guides provide updated recommendations for where’s best to bet, but also explain how we choose those sites, and where to find the best tips and advice to help you succeed. If you want to find the best place to bet on a big sporting event like Wimbledon, the Grand National or the FA Cup, we also have individual betting guides to the UK’s most popular sporting events.

If you want more info the basics like how to make a depositverifying your playing account or sports betting specifics like the mechanics of cashing out then head over to our academy section.

If you are thinking about trying out a new bookmaker, but don’t what to deposit too much, check out our minimum deposit betting page. If you are a high roller and looking for an online bookmaker with high limits, check out our high stakes betting sites list.

Finally, if you’re excited by the use of tech with betting like in-play betting, betting via apps or live streaming then we have comprehensive guides to each of them.

Casino, Bingo & Poker

One of the great things about the UK online gaming industry is the multi-product nature of many sites, and this is especially the case with betting sites. Every betting site we recommend will offer from the same homepage a casino, with many others also offering bingo and poker too. This means that once you’ve registered an account and made a deposit, you can play from the same account and wallet on their casino. So, if that bet comes in on the 12:30 at Chepstow you can try and ride your luck by having a few slots spins or by playing a few hands of blackjack.

Recommendations You Can Trust

If there’s one thing we won’t compromise on, it is trust and player safety. We’ll happily review betting websites with no free bet offers or no mobile apps, but you’ll never find an online bookmaker reviewed on this site that’s not properly licensed to accept British punters. Equally, if a bookie has shown a lack of commitment to player fairness in the past, you can be sure you’ll read all about it in our review.

The choice of UK bookmakers has never been better –  from more player friendly free bets offers to betting apps and betting lines on exotic sports its a buyer’s market. Get started on your betting journey today with the help of Playright

 

FAQs

Yes, online betting in the UK is completely legal. The online gaming industry (including betting, casino, poker and bingo) is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission which was set up by the government when it sought to legalize the industry. Any betting site that wants to accept UK players needs to be regulated first by the UKGC. Basically bet with any UKGC listed bookmaker and you will be betting at a reputable sports betting operator.
You will need to be 18+ to bet online. If you're under 18 you may succeed in opening an account but you will run into problems when you try to withdraw funds, with online betting sites verifying customers identities and ages at this point.
There isn't a single 'best' UK betting site as they all have their own pros and cons and all target different segments of the online betting sector. Generally speaking, Bet365, Betfair, Paddy Power and SkyBet are seen as the 'Tier 1' sites by size and betting revenue, but that doesn't mean they will automatically be the right site for you. Our advice would be to navigate around Playright until you find the subject that most interests you e.g football betting, esports betting, betting apps and then refer to the recommended sites list on that particular page.
No, customers do not need to pay taxes on their winnings. Its the betting sites themselves who pay taxes (on the gross gambling revenue) back to HMRC (the taxman)
Yes, every betting site will offer a bonus to new customers. However this may not always be in the form of a free bet i.e 'Bet £10, Get £30' and could instead take the form of deposit bonuses, enhanced odds or price boosts. Our free bets page goes into more detail on the differences between these types of sports betting offers.
Many people do make a living from sports betting, but like every 'online money making' activity the success stories are far outweighed by the failures. Professional sports bettors have generally made a living from one arbitrage betting, matched betting or value betting.
Asian bookies main advantage is offering Asian handicap betting plus a business model that often enables them to offer better prices that the UK bookies. Set against this is the fact they are not regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. You may find a reputable Asian bookie or you may find a fly-by-night bookie which doesn't segregate customer funds and goes bust one day.