The UK gambling industry offers diverse forms of gambling to the public including casino games, sports-betting, bingo and gaming machines. All these are available on the high street and online from operators who hold the necessary licences issued by the Gambling Commission and local authorities, although in the case of online supplies the operator may be licensed in an offshore jurisdiction. You are advised to check on an operator's website which of its products is licensed where, and whether you are satisfied from a review of the regulator's site that you will be adequately protected if you play. Unfortunately not all online licensing regimes have the same standards, albeit there are a number that have very similar systems to the UK.
The UK gambling industry employs some 214,000 people. In addition to the standard taxes that non-gambling businesses pay, the gambling industry pays betting and gaming duties. In 2009 these duties amounted to £1.4 billion. The industry is proud of its contribution to the British economy. But the industry is also mindful of its social responsibilities. Licensed gambling operators comply with stringent licensing conditions designed to protect and help problem gamblers. For example there are maximum limits on stakes and prizes, and procedures are available to enable customers to have themselves excluded from premises where gambling is available.
For a small number of people gambling may become a problem. The seriousness of the industry's commitment to protecting and helping problem gamblers is reflected in the size of the voluntary contribution that it makes to fund gambling related research, education and treatment. In 2012-2013 the industry contributed over £5 million via the Responsible Gambling Trust, and is expected to contribute over £6 million in 2013-2014. The gambling industry is unique in funding relevant research, education and treatment activities on this voluntary basis. GambleAware® itself is owned and managed by the Responsible Gambling Trust operating as GambleAware. More information about GambleAware and it's work can be found at www.about.gambleaware.org. For information about the Gambling Commission, regulators of the British gambling industry, please go to www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk.
As a general rule, the minimum legal age for gambling in the UK is 18 years old. This applies to adult gaming centres, betting shops, bingo halls, casinos, racetracks and online gambling. The exceptions to this are the National Lottery, lotteries and football pools – you’re allowed to take part in these from the age of 16 as well as some non-commercial gambling, or low stakes and prizes gambling. However, some gaming machines, such as coin pushers, teddy grabbers and some lower stakes fruit machines in family entertainment centres and amusement arcades don’t have a minimum legal age and are open to anyone. Note that a person who is over the age of 16 and under 18 who participates in gambling (not permitted under these exemptions) is also guilty of a criminal offence. Again, participation in any gambling product offered offshore may be subject to different rules, and it is advisable to check the position.
Currently in the UK games that do not enable you to win anything in money or money's worth fall outside regulation and the parameters of our remit. However the worldwide popularity of some of these games which are constructed be highly interactive, sociable and compelling (particularly where they bear a resemblance to play for real casino games), may ultimately prompt regulators in the UK and elsewhere to regulate.