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What exactly is gambling?

Gambling is defined in the Gambling Act of 2005 as betting, gaming, or participating in a lottery. This definition distinguishes between activities that require licensing and those that do not.

We divide various gambling activities into what we call sectors:

  • Arcades are places where you can play games (those for adults and those for families)
  • Gambling (online, at an event or in a high street bookmaker)
  • It’s a bingo! (online or in a bingo hall)
  • The casino (online or in a casino)
  • Lotteries are a type of lottery (raffles, tombolas, sweepstakes etc.)
  • Machines for gambling (fruit machines, fixed-odds betting terminals etc.)


Adult gaming centres (AGCs), licensed family entertainment centres (FECs), and unlicensed family entertainment centres are the three types of amusement arcades (UFECs).

The Gambling Commission must license aGCs and FECs. A permit from the local licensing authority is required for UFECs.

On arcade premises, gaming machines (fruit machines, slot machines) are classified according to the level of stake and prize offered.

Arcades with age restrictions

Anyone under the age of 18 is not permitted to enter an AGC or the adults-only section of a licensed FEC.


Betting can be provided in various ways, including fixed odds betting, pool betting, acting as a betting intermediary, and spread betting (regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority).

To provide betting services, you must be licensed by the Gambling Commission.

Betting with fixed odds

The most common type of betting is fixed odds betting, in which you place a bet to win a fixed amount determined by the odds available. A £10 bet at odds of 2/1, for example, would return £30 (£20 of winnings + £10 stake) if successful. If you don’t win, you lose your £10 bet.

Fixed-odds betting can be offered in the following locations: betting shops (of course), racetracks (of course), and via remote means (including online gambling).

Pool betting

Pool betting differs from fixed odds betting in that winnings are determined by the total amount of stakes placed in the pool. The amount you win is calculated by dividing the total pool (minus the organiser’s commission fee) by the number of winning tickets. Pool betting includes horse racing pool betting, football pool betting, and other sports pool betting fantasy football type competitions.

The Tote (Successor Company) Limited has the exclusive license to offer pool betting on GB horse racing until mid-2018. The Tote, on the other hand, can grant permission for a company to offer pool betting on British horse racing.

Intermediaries in sports betting.

A betting intermediary is someone who helps two or more parties bet on each other. They are not liable for the bets, but they frequently charge a commission fee to the winner. Betting intermediaries can be either remote or local.

Betting on spreads

We do not regulate spread betting. The Financial Conduct Authority is in charge of this.

Betting age restrictions

Anyone under the age of 18 is not permitted to bet with a licensed gambling establishment.

It’s a bingo!

What exactly is bingo?

Even though there is no legal definition of bingo, we have collaborated with the bingo industry to create an advice note: What Constitutes Bingo.

To offer bingo, you must first obtain a Gambling Commission license.

Bingo can be played as a prize game in adult gaming centres, family entertainment centres, unlicensed family entertainment centres, and travelling fairs without the need for an operating bingo license.

Casinos Casino games are available both online and in person at casinos.

Most casinos have various games to choose from, including American roulette, punto banco (or baccarat), and blackjack. You can also play games of chance (such as poker) and slot machines. Only a few casinos offer electronic games and/or games of equal chance.


Lotteries include raffles, tombolas, and sweepstakes.

Lotteries can only be held for charitable purposes and cannot be used for commercial or private gain.

Large society lotteries and lotteries promoted by local governments require a Gambling Commission license.

Small society lotteries can operate with the permission of their local government.

Lotteries have age restrictions.

Lotteries differ from other types of gambling. The National Lottery, society lotteries, customer lotteries, and local authority lotteries have a minimum participation age of 16, as opposed to 18 for other types of gambling. Other types of lotteries do not have a minimum age requirement.

Machines for gambling

What exactly is a gaming machine (also known as a fruit machine or a slot machine)?

The Gambling Act of 2005 defines a gaming machine as a machine designed or adapted for use by individuals to gamble (whether or not it can also be used for other purposes). Most gaming machines are reel-based, also known as fruit, slots in Singapore, or jackpot machines.

Domestic or dual-use computers, telephones, or other communication machines, machines designed or adapted to bet on real future events, lottery terminals on bingo premises, machines designed or adapted for bingo play are all excluded from the definition of gaming machines (including by way of prize gaming)

semi-automated casino games fully-automated casino games machines designed or adapted for the playing of bingo, by way of prize gaming, where a family entertainment centre gaming machine permit or a prize gaming permit is held semi-automated casino games fully-automated casino games

What are the various types of gaming machines?

Gaming machines are classified based on the maximum stake and prize available.

There is no statutory minimum percentage payout for gaming machines. Still, all machines must display the amounts paid to use the machine that is returned in the form of prizes (described as the machine’s return to player (RTP)) or the odds of winning prizes from the machine.

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