Betting is increasingly a mainstream activity all over the world and certainly in the UK, the world’s biggest fully regulated market, it is a completely normal pastime for many.
Despite this, for whatever reason, gambling still retains something of a murky image and we feel this is very unfair. Gambling is a safe, fun, wholly legal and is an entirely respectable, normal activity, so if you’re having any doubts about betting online, let us try and dispel a few myths and untruths.
Is Betting Online Legal In The UK?
For UK players aged 18 and over betting online is 100% legal, assuming you are accessing the site from the UK too. It really is as simple as that and there is nothing at all to worry about, whether you want to bet on the football, any other sport, or if you would rather or play at an online casino or bingo site.
For players based in other countries there may well be restrictions but UK bettors can gamble away, safe in the knowledge that what they are doing is legal, regulated and taxed by the government.
Is Online Betting & Gambling Safe?
Betting online is, quite possibly, one of the safer activities you can engage in online for a number of reasons. Since November 2014 any betting site that advertises to consumers in Britain or provides them with gambling facilities via a website, regardless of where the site is hosted or the company that owns it is based, must have a license from the UK Gambling Commission.
The Gambling Commission was established under the 2005 Gambling Act and came into full force in 2007. It regulates a wide range of gambling activities, as diverse as telephone sports betting, online casinos, the National Lottery, arcades and bingo halls and just about every betting activity in between, including online betting.
The Gambling Commission is the most respected licensing and regulatory body in the world and where many UK-facing sites may have previously been licensed by less thorough bodies in Caribbean tax havens, now just about any site a UK bettor can join will be regulated, monitored and licensed by the Gambling Commission.
Certainly all the sites we feature here fall under that umbrella and as such you can be sure that when you gamble at any of these sites, your money, personal information and financial data is as secure as it possibly can be. Moreover, the sites we promote are ones with great reputations, suffer very few complaints considering the millions of customers they have and are sites that we personally use ourselves.
Betting sites such as these use top level encryption software to protect your data, while some ring-fence player funds to secure payouts and all pay winnings to their customers promptly. Given many of the brands we feature have been around for 50 years or more, they are household names, whose online services you should feel as safe and secure using as you would the websites of any major UK high street retailer.
How To Check If An Online Betting Site Is Licensed
It’s all well and good saying that all bookmakers, betting sites, casinos and other gambling sites need to be licensed by the UK gambling commission in order to be able to accept British customers, but how do you know if they’re following the rules? After all, a bookie could just claim they’re licensed when in reality they aren’t.
Checking if a site holds an appropriate license is very easy and all it takes is a quick search of the licensing authorities database. Simply enter the name of the bookmaker you’re interested in and it will show you if they have a license. For example, the following is what you see if you search the database for ‘Coral’:
As well as manually searching the database, it is a legal requirement for each bookmaker to provide uses with their license number, as well as a link to the relevant page on the commission’s website. You’ll usually find these at the bottom of the bookies page.
Can I Make A Complaint About An Online Betting Site?
Given the levels of regulation that betting sites have to work within and the fact that bad press can be extremely damaging to a bookmaker, complaints are thankfully few and far between. However, as with any transaction and customer service situation, from time to time things may go wrong, for a range of reasons, including technical issues, events beyond people’s control, a basic misunderstanding or simple human error.
In this instance the first course of action is always to complain directly to the bookmaker, with email, phone or even live chat a good starting point. Hopefully you will get a speedy and happy resolution to your issue but if you don’t there are a number of other options open to you.
IBAS: Independent Betting Adjudication Service
IBAS, the Independent Betting Adjudication Service, is a third party body that was founded in 1998 and helps to settle disputes between unhappy bettors and operators who have registered with them. The vast majority of online UK betting sites are IBAS registered and IBAS may find in favour of the bookie or the customer. They claim to have awarded customers more than £630,000 in 2019 alone so they certainly fight the customers’ corner when they deem it necessary.
They will only intervene after an attempt has been made to solve the issue directly with the bookie and also only when both parties agree to their involvement, and sign up to their terms and conditions. IBAS aims to ensure that bookmakers adhere to their own rules and where the dispute is not covered by existing rules they aim to settle according to what industry standards would dictate.
IBAS is the third party body that is recognised by the Gambling Commission and so the pair work together to try and resolve disputes within the industry and set a framework within which future disputes become less likely to escalate. They are largely successful in this, although many bookmakers will usually side with the punter simply to avoid negative publicity unless they believe the rules clearly state they are in the right.
An alternative to using IBAS, or a secondary option, is to consider using the Small Claims Court, whilst in the event of the issue lying with a bookmaker’s advert, the Advertising Standards Authority may be able to intervene.
However, because of the competitive, customer focused environment of online betting, if you stick to the best, most reputable bookmakers like those we feature on this site, the chances of you being involved in a dispute are very low. Most eventualities are covered by clear rules and as long as you understand and accept these and play fair by the bookie, the chances are you will never have any problems and will simply enjoy gambling for the fun hobby it can be.