In the United Kingdom the legal ages for gambling are as follows:
- 18 – Sports Betting / Bookmakers
- 18 – Casino Games & Gaming Machines
- 16 – Lottery
- 16 – Scratchcards
- 16 – Football Pools
Gambling Age Limit & Regulations
Who Makes The Rules?
Gambling within the UK is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission on behalf of the government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the rules under which it is regulated are set down by specific legislation.
What’s The Key Legislation?
Those rules include the legal ages for all of the different types of gambling and it is the Gambling Act 2005, passed by the then Labour government, which is the currently active and relevant piece of legislation.
What Does The Legislation Say?
The rules are set down clearly in Part 4 of the act which is entitled ‘Protection of Children and Young Persons’. The act defines children as being aged under 16 and young persons as being aged under 18.
As such, it sets down that lotteries, scratch cards and football pools are legal for those aged over 16 whilst all other forms of gambling are only legal for those aged over 18. Online betting, therefore, falls into the second category and is illegal for anyone aged under 18.
What Are The Punishments?
What Part 4 of the act also sets down in some detail is what constitutes illegal activity when it comes to gambling providers serving underage punters.
The principle offences in this area are defined as if an individual…
invites, causes or permits a child or young person to gamble’ 2005 Gambling Act
Or if that individual…
‘invites or permits a child or young person to enter premises in which any kind of gaming licence is in effect.’ 2005 Gambling Act
Punishment is also determined by the act and the individual will be liable upon conviction to one or both of the following:
‘imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks’ 2005 Gambling Act
‘a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale’ 2005 Gambling Act
In the UK, level 5 on the standard scale of criminal fines is the highest possible level and does not have an upper limit, meaning that there is no defined maximum fine.
How Do Sites Check You Are Old Enough?
As strict as the penalties described above are, there is one defence against charges of serving underage gamblers which the Gambling Act 2005 also lays down. That is if the gambling provider ‘took all reasonable steps to determine the individual’s age, and…reasonably believed that the individual was not a child.’
It is for that reason, therefore, that online betting sites require customers to confirm that they are over 18 when they sign up and that they can conduct their own checks to verify a customer’s age.
Those checks often involve requesting a copy of ID documentation from the customer and limiting their account until the documentation is provided.
What Documents Sites Can Ask For:
- The customer’s passport.
- The customer’s photo card driving licence.
- A household bill in the customer’s name.
- A national ID card with the customer’s name and photograph.
- A credit or debit card in the customer’s name or a recent statement.
Related: Is Online Gambling Legal In The UK?