English Internet Casino Law


The principal law governing betting and gaming in England and Wales was the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963, (the Act) covering games of chance, and lotteries as well as betting. The part of that law dealing with Gaming was repealed by the Gaming Act 1968. The parts dealing with lotteries, prize competitions and amusements with prizes were repealed by the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976. Part I of the Act still covers betting.


"Bet" is not defined but is said not to include a bet made or stake hazarded in the course of gaming.

The Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting 1933 described a "bet" as 'a promise to give money or monies worth upon the determination of an uncertain or unascertained event in a particular way. It may involve the exercise of skill or judgement.'

The law distinguishes bets which are and which are not 'wagers' The Gaming Act 1845, s18 provides that contracts by way of wagering are void and unenforceable (as are gaming contracts) whilst other betting transactions are binding legal agreements. In practice betting conducted by bookmakers usually on horse and dog races is usually wagering and pool betting by football pools and totalisators is not wagering.

Wagers are bilateral bets in which one side may win or lose. In law the difference between a wager and a bet is; for a bet to be classified as a wager it must be possible for each party to win or lose, for bets of other sorts, for instance if one party cannot win or cannot lose, this would not be a wager.

"Competitions" are events where promoters provide and run competitions offering prizes to secure entries in exchange for entry fees (which may be regarded as payments to the promoter as consideration for providing the competition. The promoter's obligation to provide the prize to the winners results from his running the competition, not from the resolution of any contingency between him and any of the individual competitors.

"Pool Betting" may exist even when there is no pool of stakes as the Betting and Gaming Duties Act 1981, s10 provides that: -

'(1)bets shall be held to be made by way of pool betting wherever a number of persons make bets-

(b) on terms that the winnings of such of those persons as are winners shall be, or shall include, an amount (not determined by reference to the stake money paid or agreed to be paid by those persons) which is divisible in any proportions among such of those persons as are winners,..'

The effect if this provision is that certain types of competition, so called 'Fantasy' competitions, may fall within the definition of 'pool betting' and be liable to pool betting duty.

"Lottery" prior to 1960 there was no statutory definition of lottery and the concept is determined with reference to case law. The Gaming Act 1968 contains a definition of gaming broad enough to include some forms of lottery. Control of a lottery which is not gaming is to occur under the Lottery and Amusements Act 1976 (LLA). A lottery, which is...

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