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The History of Gambling in the United Kingdom

The History of Gambling in the United Kingdom

The UK gambling industry has a net worth of 14.4 billion pounds and is one of the biggest in the world. Gambling has been the most favourite recreational activity from centuries in Great Britain. It was usually in the form of horse racing where people used to bet on horses according to their winning probability. This has been the favourite gambling theme of English people for more than three centuries. If you dig a bit deeper in the history of UK gambling, you'll find that King Charles II was an avid sportsperson who was also a jockey in 1671. Horse racing remained favourite until the 18th century where the availability of railways further facilitated the growth of this sport.

While the casino slots and games here at Goldrushslots.co.uk is a far cry to what it used to be hundreds of years ago, it definitely has its deep roots and links in history. Gambling since then is heavily regulated in the entire world.

This article is all about the roots of the UK gambling industry. We'll discuss what it used to look like thousands of years ago, what is the current scenario and what will be the future of gambling in the United Kingdom. This is going to be very interesting, make sure you read it till the end!

Gambling in the 1800s England

While gambling was there several years before the 18th century, let's begin with the 1800s itself. So, during this period, the state lottery was a tremendous success which initially started with the Queen Anne Lotteries of the early 1700s.

This format of gambling offered the benefits of both cost-effective fantasy with quick outcomes and rational calculations. There used to be no aggressive losers like what they used to be in card games and also there was no fixing and plotting like what was in horse racing. For these reasons, lotteries gained significant popularity and not just that, they were a great source of treasury and provided great sums for wars. During the reign of Queen Anne, there were about 7 lottery loans from 1711 to 1714. These yielded about £9,000,000 from which about £2,734,000 was reserved for the winners.

In 1815, with the defeat of Napoleon, the war period came to an end and there was peace all around, no lotteries were required for financing the wars. This was the main reason why lotteries were discontinued in 1826.

From there onwards gambling took a different turn, there were different styles of it for different sections of society - upper, middle and working class. Obviously, gambling for upper-class families meant high stakes, high losses and the common venue used to be elite clubs that were highly sophisticated with no violence and negative atmosphere.

For middle-class families, gambling used to take place at homes with limited stakes and minimum competition. It wasn't really about winning or losing, instead it was more of a general meeting with the goal of genial and camaraderie conversation. Here, youngsters were also allowed to join as it was believed that this recreational activity improves their mental math abilities.

When Was Gambling Legalised In The UK?

On September 1, 1960, the Betting and Gaming Act was passed which offered a way for betting halls, shops and casinos to open freely on the high streets of Britain. Before this act, gambling was not legal. There were no legal casinos, bingo shops and betting halls. Horse racing was the only legal form of betting at this time.

The man in power during this was Harold MacMillan whose government believed that this act will put an end to illegal gambling and will allow the gamblers to walk into legal shops and play legally. Later the Betting and Gaming act followed the Royal Commission in 1951 on Lotteries, Betting and Gaming which considered gambling to be "harmless" and recommended that it should be legalised. And not to forget, it wasn't legalised thinking that it would raise funds for the government but it was solely for the recreational purpose.

This bill not only legalised the betting shops but also allowed gaming machines inside the pubs.
Casinos and bingo halls were also legalised. However, there was a condition that money should only be taken from the membership charges.

During the first 5 years of the act, more than 1000 casinos were set up. Welshman George Alfred James was considered to be the first legal casino.

The Introduction of Online Gambling

Barbuda and Antigua passed an act in 1994 called the Trade and Processing Act which intended to grant permissions for opening online casinos. Before the introduction of online casinos, there was a gambling software developed by Microgaming which is a famous software company. In essence, the first online casinos were introduced in 1994. After the establishment of Kahnawake Gaming Commission in 1996, online gambling was regulated in the Mohawk Territory and gaming licences were issued to several other casinos and poker rooms across the globe. The main goal behind this act was to keep the online gambling activities transparent and fair.

It was 1990, when online gambling gained a significant amount of fame. During 1996, there were just fifteen gambling sites which later increased to 200 in the following year. As per the reports, the online gambling revenues crossed a whopping amount of $830 million in 1998 itself. Then, the first online poker rooms were introduced in the same year. Later in 1999, another act called the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act was passed in the US senate. According to it, no organisation or company could offer any online gambling activity or product to the US citizens. Thankfully, it didn't pass and later multi-player gambling was also introduced in the same year.

And the rest is history. Now there are millions of online gambling websites and platforms around the world, although there are still a few countries where gambling is illegal.


So, this was our article about the interesting history of gambling in the United Kingdom. Gambling has always been a favourite sport of Britisher. Be it in the form of horse racing, lotteries, betting shops or online gaming platforms. While the scenario of gambling has changed to a whole different level, the roots and the enthusiasm for it is still the same. We hope you've enjoyed this article!