How is Sports Betting Regulated in the UK?

The UK has some of the most popular sportsbooks and betting exchanges around. But with great opportunities comes great responsibility. Because, as you’ll soon discover, not all betting providers are created equal. And while there are plenty of places where you can make a well-founded guess about the upcoming outcome of a sporting event, it’s not always as easy as placing a bet. Here’s a quick guide to how sports betting is regulated in the UK.

The UK Gambling Advertising Guidelines Are Pretty Intense

The UK has some of the most stringent guidelines when it comes to gambling advertising. The self-regulatory body in charge of overseeing recreational sports betting (UKAGA) has decreed that only approved sponsors are permitted to advertise on TV, online, or in any other medium. And they don’t take kindly to transgressors. Just ask Betfair, who had to close down their London office and saw their share price drop by almost a quarter following a series of controversies.

Approved sponsors must follow certain guidelines in order to be branded as such. Amongst others, they must provide “high quality content” and show “responsible gambling behaviour”. Essentially, sponsors must behave responsibly, which is a bit of a contradiction in terms. And it’s not just TV adverts that are subject to these regulations. Once a month, magazines and newspapers must also abide by their directives. Violators risk having their ads pulled or being sanctioned by trading authorities.

Licensing And Broadcasting Are Also Rigorously Regulated

Besides regulating the content that can appear in relation to sporting events, the UK also has licensing procedures in place to ensure that only those who are fit and appropriate to handle money and transactions related to gambling are permitted to do so. This is especially important in the case of broadcasters, who must adhere to the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) codes of conduct. Essentially, these codes dictate standards of behavior for people working in the broadcast industry, including journalists, production staff, and presenters.

Additionally, the UK government requires that gambling advertising is monitored and analyzed by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Independent Television Commission (ITC). This is so that practitioners can improve targeting and measurement methods, and establish a precedent for future complaints. While these bodies don’t get involved in the day-to-day running of a business, they do vet and regulate content related to gambling, which is something.

The Sports Betting Licensing And Regulation Process

If you’re looking to engage in sports betting activities in the UK, then you’ll first need to apply for a license from the Gambling Commission. To qualify, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a legal resident of the UK
  • Have a bank account
  • Be able to maintain accurate records
  • Have sufficient knowledge of the English language
  • Have lived in the UK for more than 3 months
  • Have a valid email address
  • Follow the sports betting guidelines
  • Pass a vetting process by the Gambling Commission
  • Have appropriate insurance (e.g. Professional Indemnity Insurance)

Once you’ve been approved by the Gambling Commission, you can then apply to their licensing division, the Sports Betting Licensing and Regulation Authority (SBLRA), for a specific type of license. Currently, the only type of license available is a Sole Trader License. This allows you to run your own business, but you must also comply with all the regulations set by the Gambling Commission.

As a registered company, you’ll need to appoint a Chief Operating Officer (COO), who will be responsible for the daily operations of the business. The COO must be at least 25 years old, and preferably have some experience in the gambling industry. Additionally, you’ll need at least two employees, whose responsibilities will include ensuring that all regulatory requirements are met. Finally, you’ll need to install and maintain an up-to-date cash handling system, which must be regularly checked by a professional.

Upon applying for a license, you’ll receive a written assignment outlining the obligations and requirements of a registered company. This document will then need to be signed by both you and the Chief Operating Officer.

Paying With Confidence

One of the most significant consequences of the UK’s regulatory framework is how it impacts the way in which you can spend your money when betting on sports. Since 2011, British companies have had to comply with the Credit Card Payment Protection Regulations, which effectively require them to accept credit cards as payment methods. This is beneficial for consumers, as it makes paying for goods and services easier than ever before. It also means that betting companies must ensure that the systems in place to handle these transactions are absolutely secure.

All online gambling companies in the UK must now offer this service to their customers, but it didn’t happen overnight. Prior to the 2011 regulations, only select betting companies offered this convenience, which meant that those who used non-card payment methods (e.g. Paypal, Skrill, and Moneygram) were at a decided disadvantage.

Final Takeaway

One of the most significant regulatory frameworks in place in the UK is undoubtedly the one governing sports betting. Not only does it prevent companies from abusing their power by misusing the media to promote certain events and products, but it also means that consumers can engage in this activity with confidence.

Ultimately, the UK’s approach to regulating gambling is one that strives for a healthy and trusting environment. While there’s certainly no substitute for good old-fashioned common sense and proper diligence, following all the correct procedures and playing by the rules should never be a concern when playing at a reputable sportsbook or betting exchange.