Since the UK is one of the regions with licensed online gaming, there are hundreds of UK online casinos to choose from. Our casino experts have spent hours playing for real money at UK casinos to come up with our comprehensive UK casino reviews, and our list of the top-rated online casinos that cater to UK players.
Here, we rank and review the best online casinos in the UK. We also cover the legal aspects of gambling for real money in the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom is the home of one of the most efficiently and fairly run gambling markets in the world. Under the trusted guidance of the UK Gambling Commission, the UK casino gaming industry has been allowed to flourish, albeit with plenty of regulation to ensure that sites offer fair play and secure gaming to their players. UK players are, therefore, going to be able to trust any site they play at completely, provided the United Kingdom Gambling Commission licenses it. On this page, we will examine the UK’s gambling laws, UK online casinos and the UKGC in closer detail, to bring you up to speed.
Can I Gamble Online in the United Kingdom?
The United Kingdom has fully legalised all forms of gambling. Since gambling was first legalised (back in the 1930s), it has been regulated. UK players have a love affair with sports betting, lottery games, bingo, casino games and all other forms of gambling, with the country one of the most notable in the world for its punters having a bet.
UK players can typically gamble at any casino site they fancy, even offshore ones. However, you are advised against visiting foreign casinos, as they seldom have the kind of level of regulation you can get from Britain’s most renowned sites. Moreover, with most of the major casinos on the net already having a UK Gambling Commission issued license, there is no real reason to play at any other sites. The UKGC licenses casinos, sportsbooks, bingo sites and much more besides, so you’ll have plenty to play in the UK.
Gambling online in the United Kingdom is entirely legal, provided you sign up to a betting site which has one of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission’s licenses. These sites have to jump through hoops regarding secure, responsible and fair gaming, aren’t allowed to push unfair or spurious promotions onto players, and feature games from all the industry’s leading developers.
The country has a long and illustrious history with permitting its players to gamble, so let’s begin our adventure by looking at that history.
The United Kingdom’s History with Gambling
Gambling has been regulated in the United Kingdom since the 1930s, which is considerably longer than in many other countries. The first UK lottery was introduced in the 1930s, and since then, other games have come along to win the hearts of the nation’s players. The 1960s saw a significant increase in the popularity of bingo halls, and sports betting shops began to spring up in the early 1970s. The outlets are still popular today, even with the rise of online and mobile gaming.
The advent of internet gaming brought some challenges, as most of the UK legislation concerning gambling was written prior to the internet. A new gambling law was required, as many dodgy and rogue casinos targeted the UK audience. The Gambling Act of 2005 provided those laws, and it saw the establishment of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) in 2007. Since it first appeared, the Gambling Commission has continually launched new laws which have aimed to improve the experience a player has when betting online.
The new Gambling Act of 2005 essentially slapped down a 15% tax rate on operators. Before, many UK operators sat offshore, so they didn’t have to pay a duty on their income. The new rules changed all this. Now, operators who wanted to offer their services to UK players legally would have to apply for a UKGC license, and, in turn, would have to pay the 15% levy. By contrast, players in the United Kingdom do not pay any taxes on their winnings. It doesn’t matter how much they win, all winnings are tax-free, on lotteries, casino gaming, sports betting – the works. Faced with this new law and the loss of one of the largest gambling markets in the world, many UK operators set up shop in the country once more. This is why the UK is home to so many leading casino and sports gambling brands.
Online Gambling in the United Kingdom
The UK Gambling Commission has (in recent times) launched an array of new laws which prevent problem gambling and ensures that casinos bearing its licenses promote responsible gaming. Simple rules such as requiring casinos to call free spins “bonus spins” if they aren’t truly free have seen some sites dish out wager-free bonuses.
Other rules mean that casinos must clearly publish all terms and conditions in full, and not hide them away, while casinos are now required to offer assistance to problem gamblers, wager and deposit limits, as well as time-outs and cool-off periods if players want them. This has all contributed to the UK online gambling scene being one of the safest around. The UKGC is now the number one authority for UK gambling regulation, and in 2013, they proved this when they took over regulation of the UK’s National Lottery.
As far as the law of the land goes, it is fully legal to play at any UK Gambling Commission licensed site, provided you are over 18 years of age. You are required to go through KYC (know your customer) processes, to verify your identity. This protects against identity and money fraud, too.
The United Kingdom does not blacklist online casinos. Its players are free to play at non-UK licensed casinos, although the UKGC strongly advises against this. There is no real punishment for doing it, but given that these sites often lack anywhere near the regulation of UK Gambling Commission sites, why would any player want to take the risk?
Why Play at a UK Online Casino?
Players based in the United Kingdom have access to what is arguably the finest selection of casino games around, and at the safest sites to boot. If that reason or the ones regarding safety aren’t enough, there are many more which might persuade you to play at UK sites.
Every single UK licensed casino has to adhere to a variety of rules and regulations set forth by the UKGC. They won’t stand a chance of being shady or unprofessional. Failure to adhere to these rules could see an operator lose their license, and with a market of over 20 million gamblers, that is a sizable risk for them to take.
Here are a few of the reasons why you might wish to play at a UK online casino today:
- Fair Bonuses and Promotions: All UK online casinos are permitted to offer promotions and bonuses to players, and many do so. However, these promotions and bonuses must feature entirely transparent terms and conditions. They must be fair and contain reasonable wagering requirements. Some UK bonuses have no wagering terms at all. Promotions and bonuses at UK online casinos range from no deposit to deposit bonuses, free spins, loyalty deals, prize draws, tournaments, monthly specials and VIP clubs and beyond.
- Games from the Very Best Providers: Almost all major casino software developers are licensed out of the United Kingdom. This means that they are legally permitted to offer games to UK casinos. It is worth noting that many UK online casinos will feature software from more than one provider. In fact, the top casinos and sportsbooks will often carry games from 10, 15, 20 or even more developers under one roof. On top of that, you can play far more than just slots and table games. Most of these sites will typically offer sports betting, poker, bingo and lottery games, as well as live dealer titles to boot, all under one roof.
- Mobile Casino Gaming: A good number of UK casinos are mobile-friendly. All can be played via your phone or tablet’s web browser, but some also serve up dedicated mobile betting apps which can be downloaded and installed on iOS (Apple) and Android devices. This mobile-friendliness is often extended to sports betting sites, too.
- Support and Assistance: By order of the UK Gambling Commission, all UK casino sites have to provide adequate customer support and assistance. This means that they must offer free assistance. Support is typically available via live chat and e-mail, although toll-free telephone help can also be had. An FAQ (frequently asked questions) guide can commonly be found at UK casinos, too.
Finding the Best UK Online Casinos
You won’t have to look very hard to find a top online casino to play at. In theory, any UK Gambling Commission licensed casino should be safe and secure. If you want to make doubly sure that you’re playing at one of the best UK online casinos around, just check whether your chosen casino can fulfil the following criteria:
- Safe, Licensed and Secure: As we’ve already mentioned throughout this page, UK players are permitted to play at any online casino which will have them, without fear of repercussions. However, we would always recommend playing at a UK licensed site. Any casino which is legitimately licensed by the Gambling Commission is guaranteed to be safe, fair and secure.
- Transparent Terms and Conditions: You can expect to be treated fairly when claiming bonuses and promotions at UK casino sites. You won’t get hit with silly 50x wagering requirements at UK casinos. Instead, any wagering requirements you do see will be reasonable. Moreover, all the details surrounding any promotion must be published in full. No casino should be able to pull the wool over your eyes.
- UK Services for Players: The best UK online casinos will naturally offer gameplay in English, but they will also carry the British pound sterling (GBP) currency option. On top of this, they should accept UK-friendly payment methods and not charge withdrawal fees. There will also likely be flexible withdrawal caps. The UK is one of the few countries in the world to accept PayPal as a casino payment method, so keep an eye out for this at your chosen site.
- All Action Under One Roof: You shouldn’t need to sign up at a sportsbook, a live casino site, a bingo room and a casino to play all your favourite games in the UK. The very best UK gambling sites will offer all these services (or at least many of them) under one roof, and they should be accessible with a single account and wallet. A good example of this is that of the many high-street bookies, who run sportsbooks and casino sites online.
Yours Questions Answered: Our FAQs on UK Online Casino Gambling
If you’ve still got questions about the best UK online casinos, gambling laws and other aspects of the UK online gambling scene, there is a chance we have covered it in our FAQ section below…
- How do I pick the best UK online casino?
All players are recommended to play at UK Gambling Commission licensed casinos. These are guaranteed to be safe, secure and fair, as the UKGC’s regulations are quite strict. Failing that (or if you don’t know if a casino is UKGC licensed), we’d recommend using the criteria listed above to find a top place to play.
- Is it illegal for me to play at an online casino in the United Kingdom?
Not at all. Provided you are over the age of 18, and opt to play at a UK Gambling Commission licensed site, everything is squeaky clean and above board. However, while it is illegal for offshore operators to offer their services to UK players, there are no laws (or punishments) preventing you from joining such sites. You can, in theory, play anywhere you want to.
- How old do I have to be to gamble in the United Kingdom?
The legal gambling age in the United Kingdom is 18 years old unless you wish to play the National Lottery when the age is 16. Online casinos have to adhere to the national gambling age, so you need to be at least 18 to bet online.
- Can I trust offshore casinos?
Not all non-UK licensed casinos are bad for business. In fact, Gibraltar, Isle of Man and Malta Gaming Authority licensed casinos are incredibly trustworthy, and many are recommended. We wouldn’t recommend playing anywhere which isn’t the UK, Malta, the Isle of Man or Gibraltar licensed, though, as there are so many adequately licensed and regulated domains to choose from in the UK. There’s no reason to take the risk.
- What deposit/withdrawal methods can I use at UK casinos?
UK players should have their pick from many different banking options. These can include VISA, MasterCard, Maestro and VISA Electron, Neteller, Skrill, PayPal, Paysafecard, EcoPayz and pay-by-phone options, amongst others. Cryptocurrencies aren’t technically legal in the UK, but some online casinos do readily accept them, too.
- Can I claim bonuses at UK casinos?
Yes, and many of them. Just because the UK Gambling Commission is notoriously strict about ensuring that operators provide fair terms and conditions, it doesn’t mean that there’s a lack of bonuses. You will find the same kinds of promo deals you will get at offshore casinos. The only difference is that these tend to be fairer (albeit worth less money) and safer for you to claim.
Local UK Casinos
As well as the popularity of online gambling, ‘Bricks and Mortar’ land-based casinos are continuing to prove popular in the UK. Indeed, since the 2005 Gambling Act became law, there no longer is the need to wait 24 hours before you can set foot in a UK land-based casino.
Before the Act came into being, players had to apply for membership of the casino they wanted to visit and wait 24 hours before being allowed to cross the threshold. Nowadays you can literally walk into any casino off the street and you also do not need to be a member.
Whilst CR is a resource for online casinos, we also do like to visit land-based casinos now and again, hence this page. Where you will find reviews of many of the casinos we have frequented in the UK.
Unfortunately, the advent of ‘Super Casinos’ which were to form part of the 2005 Gambling Act did not eventually come to realisation due to the opposition. Therefore you will find the vast majority of land-based casinos in the UK are limited to a maximum of 20 slot machines per casino. This is such a shame for like-minded slot fans and is also the reason why the casinos are populated with ‘Gaminator’ slot cabinets, which you are able to play a number of different slot games on.
Indeed, many of the slots you can find in the UK Casinos can also be played for free right here on CR. As many of the land-based slot games have been released online as well due to their popularity.
At the moment as far as we are aware at CR, the Aspers Casino located in the Westfield Shopping Complex in Stratford, London, is the only such land-based casino which is licensed to have more than 20 slot machines in the casino. Aspers is also the first casino which we have reviewed here on CasinoRankings.com ( see below ).
Hopefully, in time, the Gambling Act will be amended whereby the limit on slot machine numbers is softened, therefore allowing more casinos to be able to have more than 20 slot cabinets on their premises.
London CasinosCasinos in London
Below you will find in alphabetical order all the London land-based casinos we have visited and reviewed.
Obviously being the capital of the United Kingdom, London hosts the most number of land-based casinos in the country.
So far we have personally reviewed four of the casinos which are located in the capital. These reviews took place during the summer of 2017
Each London Casino reviewed also features a walk-thru video which was filmed discreetly when visiting the casino to perform the review.
It is our intention to visit London during the latter part of 2018 to increase the number of London Casino reviews we have on these pages.
Aspers Casino – London
Aspers Casino is by far the largest casino in the UK and has been open since November 2011. Located just outside Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford and a stone’s throw from the London ( Former Olympic ) Stadium, Aspers Casino is huge by UK standards.
Open 365 days a year, 24/7. Aspers Casino is the best UK Casino for fans of slot machines, with over 100 slot cabinets adorning the casino floor.
Check out our review of Aspers Casino, where we show you around the casino floor, which we filmed undercover, the day after we saw Guns N Roses at the nearby London Stadium.
Empire Casino, Leicester Square – London
The Empire Casino in Leicester Square, London, was incidentally the very first casino I visited in the UK, which was upon my return from living in Gibraltar back in 2006.
Like several of the other London Casinos reviewed here on CR, The Empire has a superb location being bang in the middle of Leicester Square, although nowadays it is starting to struggle and fall behind it’s competition.
Operating a decent members loyalty scheme, whereby points are awarded against every pound gambled on the slot machines or gaming cabinets. These can be redeemed against drinks at the bar or food ordered at the restaurant.
Grosvenor Casino, Leicester Square – London
One of a number of casinos located in the heart of Central London, Grosvenor Casino Leicester Square is a pleasant surprise.
From obviously being supporters of responsible gambling to complimentary no strings attached free drinks, Grosvenor Leicester Square did not disappoint.
A lot of thought obviously went into the planning of the layout of the casino, which was decorated to a high standard.
Overall very impressed with the casino and I shall be returning when in the area.
Hippodrome Casino, Leicester Square – London
The Hippodrome Casino was opened in 2012 after an extensive renovation of the building by Simon Thomas costing a reported £30 Million.
Incorporating 4 gaming floors, 20 slots machines, several restaurants and bars, and a Cabaret Theatre, the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square should be visited in the area.
With a decent member’s reward scheme in place, offering loyalty points and food and drink discounts, The Hippodrome also features a fully covered smoking terrace.
This iconic building has been given a new lease of life by the Thomas family, making an integral part of London’s West End.
Bristol is the largest city in South West England, with a catchment area in excess of 1 million people.
Bristol also happens to be the closest ‘big’ city to the offices of CasinoRankings.com, being just over 20 miles away.
So it made perfect sense for us to check out the casinos Bristol has to offer it’s visitors.
The three Bristol Casinos we have checked out, which we list below are all fairly close to each other, located within reaching distance of the cool Millennium Square.
All the reviews of the casinos in Bristol were carried out in mid-August 2018, with each review page featuring a walk-thru video, which was recorded at the time of the review.
Rainbow Casino – Millennium Square – Bristol
Rainbow Casino Bristol is situated in quite frankly a superb part of the City. Just a stones throw from the River Avon and We The Curious, plus close by to are a number of eateries and pubs and wine bars. As well as being situated on the corner of the resplendent Millennium Square.
Of the three casinos in Bristol that we visited in August 2018, Rainbow Casino is, in our considered view, the best of all three.
Location wise it is different class, yet the layout and setup of the casino have clearly had some serious thought and planning.
You don’t need to be a member to visit the casino, but it is worthwhile joining as you can then accrue loyalty points, which you can cash in for food or drinks.