Legal Online Poker Sites imageAs with other forms of gambling in the UK, poker is completely legal and operates under the identical regulations recognized in UK casino and sportsbook laws. The first form of modern gambling law was introduced in the mid 90’s, allowing poker rooms and other forms of gambling to be practiced within the UK from establishments based in the United Kingdom and those of other countries. Therefore, UK players had various options as both UK-based and international poker rooms could access the market. At the time, license establishments such as Alderney, Gibraltar, Antigua, and Gibraltar were among the most popular.

2005 marked the preliminary point for major changes in the UK gambling law as the UKGC (United Kingdom Gambling Commission) took control of all forms of gambling within the country, including commercial and online.

Only 2 years later, the Gambling Commission obtained full control of all gambling related matters and started monitoring sites for security and fair gaming. New regulations required gambling sites to obtain a license from them or at least be regulated by an establishment that meets their requirements, including Malta, Isle of Man, Barbuda, Gibraltar, Alderney, and other EU regions.

To play poker online you will of course first need to find and locate a poker site that you can trust, and as such if you are based in the UK then this take is made much easier for all you need to do is to locate an online poker site that is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission.

List of Poker sites accepts player from UK

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Current Poker Laws

The Gambling Commission aimed to provide safer and trustworthy gambling environments. Therefore, full control was needed over gambling establishments that are operational within the country, but with international licensed sites having access, there are little the commission could do.

In 2014, a new bill was issued, requiring gambling sites to obtain a UK Gambling Commission license to operate in the UK. The bill was added in November 2014 when all forms of gambling regulations were brought on-shore. In addition, a new gambling tax law applied to all gambling establishments that accepted players from the UK. Thus, demanding a 15% tax fee to all on-shore and off-shore gambling companies on all UK players at the point of consumption.

Anticipated panic struck the gambling market of the UK as companies were firstly required to obtain a UKGC license and pay an additional tax fee. Many institutions decided to withdraw from the market all together, including poker, casino, and sportsbook companies.

Other establishments decided to go through the required changes and adjust their financials to reflect the added tax law. By the Spring of 2016, the Gambling Commission of the UK applied the first of their new laws by limiting all forms of gambling that isn’t regulated by the UKGC. While many well-known sites found it relatively easy to adjust to the new laws, many others were rejected when applying for a license as they did not meet the requirements.

The primary goal of the UKGC is to ensure fair and safe gambling is practiced for UK players. Therefore, a close watch is applied to all gambling establishments and random testing for fairness and responsible gambling is a common occurrence.

How New Poker Laws Affects the UK

At the very beginning of the new laws being implemented, it seemed as if UK players would no longer be able to access the international market, and thus limiting the market completely. However, the new bill simply required poker providers to obtain a UKGC license in addition to other licenses already active.

Some poker and casino sites had to apply changes to security measures and have since included SSL encryption systems, and more. Once these measures were met, the license would be granted and the establishment would once again be able to provide poker to the market. Therefore, members of the UK could access these poker networks where other parts of the world are also allowed.

The 15% tax law has also been applied to these poker sites, requiring the establishment to pay a 15% tax fee on all deposits. Once again, many poker establishments refused these added costs, but at the same time they had no choice but to obtain a license if the UK market is of any interest.

Today, all forms of gambling offered to the UK is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission and all UK player earnings are taxed at 15%. Therefore, players are not required to pay tax on gambling whatsoever, even if winnings are withdrawn. As predicted, a few black-market poker and casino establishments have attempted to access the market without proper licensing, but with the added security, fairness, and reliability recognized by UK licensed sites, these black-market sites haven’t been able to remain active as they cannot provide the same benefits as licensed sites.

Benefits of Playing at UK Licensed Poker Rooms

The Gambling Commission has introduced strict rules and regulations for gambling sites catering to the UK in hopes of creating a better gaming environment for UK players. While the new laws might have seemed unfair towards companies, the result has been positive in all forms.

Most importantly, players can join any site that’s obtained a license and trust that fair gaming and the required level of security is applied. Furthermore, responsible gambling must be practiced in order to remain within the regulations of their license, thus ensuring fair payments. The random testing referred to above, comprises all aspects of any gambling site, including standard payout percentages on games, regulated and fair poker rooms, random results, security tests, and payment tests. In addition, the UKGC has made it possible to complain to the commission itself about any unlawful gambling or requirements not being met.

Today, the UK gambling market is regarded as the most prestigious, but also the strictest in the world. Obtaining such a license is not as easy as obtaining a similar license in other countries, as every poker site applying for such a license has to go through something of a long an drawn out vetting procedure and a range of other checks to ensure they are of the quality deemed fit to provide UK based players with their respective poker offerings. Have a look at legal casino sites or legal sports betting sites if you are looking for the up to date list.

Even with the added tax, gambling companies strive to have a presence in the lucrative market that has grown to over £4.5 billion per annum. Research has also shown the market size has more than doubled since the new laws were established as more people are able to enjoy online gambling in a safe, secure, and fair environment.

The future for online poker networks in the UK, follows a very similar path as what’s currently practiced, therefore offering strict rules for companies, but easy to use gambling opportunities for members.

Frequently Asked Questions

We do know a lot of poker players who may be considering moving their poker play action online will have many questions that they are looking for the answers to, and as such we invite you to read through the following section as listed upon it are some of the most commonly asked online poker related questions and the relevant answers to those questions.

  1. When is the best time to log in and play online poker?

    If you wish to play poker online and have the biggest number of opponents to take on then you are best advised to log on over the weekend or on a week day evening as those are the times when most if not all poker sites are at their busiest. However, it doesn’t really matter when you log on to play poker online for no matter what time of the day or night there will usually be hundreds if not thousands of players online and playing.

  2. Will I be playing expert poker players?

    The beauty of playing poker on the internet is that you are not going to know who you will be playing against! You may find you are playing against a complete novice or a very experienced player and this is why playing poker online can be very exciting and certainly entertaining. You will find that you tend to get to know some players you are playing against due to their username and as such you may find it useful to take notes on how those players tend to play their hands and to build up many player profiles.

  3. What stake options are available?

    You will be able to play poker online completely for free, for tiny modest stake amounts of even play no limit poker games, the one key factor to you having enjoyable poker playing sessions online is for you to always play for stakes that you can afford to play for, overspending is a very real possibility so do make use of the self imposed betting limits all UK poker sites have on offer.

  4. What poker games can I play online?

    You are going to be able to access and play the more classic types of poker online such as Omaha and Texas Hold Em at all poker sites, but if you are seeking some of the more unusual variants then be prepared to look around and compare the games offered at different sites as many of them have lots of additional poker game variants readily on offer and available to play for free or for real money.

  5. What type of software do I have to download?

    You will find you get by far and away the best online poker playing experience if you choose to utilize a downloadable poker gaming platform, for when you do you can then play in multiple rooms at the same time and also adjust the player option settings to give you something of a much more tailored playing session. However, some sites also offer a no downloadable gaming platform which will work in any web browser, so maybe you should try out both types of platforms so as to find one that you enjoy using.

  6. Are there any age restrictions in place?

    Getting involved in and playing poker online is only legal in the UK if you are over the age of 18, any person under the age of 18 is not allowed by law to gamble online. When you sign up to any site you are going to be subject to an age verification process, this can often be done automatically but if the site is unable to verify your age you will be requested to send in some form of identification documents to prove your age. Your account may be locked until such a time that you send in age verification documents as requested

  7. How can I be assured I am accessing fair games?

    All online poker sites that have been granted a UK online gambling license will have proven to the UK Gambling Commission that there games are fair and random, and as such when you do play poker at any such site you are always guaranteed of being able to play fair and true poker games, which is something you will never be assured of if you choose to play at an offshore and unlicensed poker site.

  8. What methods can I use to deposit?

    Everything from credit to debits cards, pre paid vouchers and pre paid cards along with web wallets can be used to fund an online poker site account in the UK, so you will always have an option available to you.

  9. How quickly do poker sites payout?

    You should get paid quite rapidly from most UK licensed and regulated poker sites, but a lot of the time it is going to be dependent on just what method you have chosen to get paid by. Web wallets and withdrawals sent back to your bank account can appear virtually instantly once processed however if for example you request a cheque to be sent to you when cashing out any poker winnings then you will have to wait for it to arrive and then wait for it to clear the bank system when you pay it into your bank account.

  10. Can I play in free poker tournaments online?

    Free to enter poker tournaments are often known as Freerolls and you will find hundreds of them are available at many different poker sites at various times of the week. Br aware that we have seen many UK licensed poker sites offering new players a range of exclusive new player poker tournaments which are free to enter and have real money prizes on offer, so do hunt around and always compare what you get by way of promotional offers when you sign up to any new poker site at which you haven’t played at before.

Legal UK Licensing Jurisdictions

For you to be able to play poker online is a 100% safe and secure environment you need to play only at sites holding a UK Gambling Commission issues gambling license, however you can also play at the many poker sites licensed by the following gambling commissions, and should those sites also hold a UK gambling license then you have twice the level of protection.

  • Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner – Gibraltar has been a place where online gambling site operators can be both located and get a full online gambling license, however each site that is licensed here does go through a rigorous vetting procedure and is expected to operate to the highest standards, and those standards are monitored by the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner.
  • Alderney Gambling Control Commission – You will find a highly regulated number of online poker sites have been licensed in Alderney and if those sites also have a UK Gambling Commission issued gambling license you will never run into any problems playing at such a site online.
  • Isle of Man Casino Control Commission – The Isle of Man is one other recognised place that issues online gambling licenses and permits, there are many gambling site operators who are both based and licensed there and each site licensed adheres to the highest industry standards and a very strict code of conduct.

Not Legally Recognised Gambling Jurisdictions

There are listed below two places that a poker site offering their services to online players can become licensed at, however poker sites licensed at any of those places listed below are not legally recognized by the UK, and as such avoid playing at any poker site holding such a gambling license.

  • Government of Curacao – There is no reliable online gambling licensing infrastructure offered by the Government of Curacao and they only offer business licenses to companies based there, so if you end up playing at a poker site that is licensed in Curacao you that site will not have been vetted or will be as highly regulated as a poker site that holds a UK Gambling Commission issued gaming license.
  • Antigua Directorate of Offshore Gambling – You will never have any real protection should you make the mistake of joining up to an online poker site located in Antigua licensed by the Antigua Directorate of Offshore Gambling, and as such no matter how generous any poker bonuses may seem at such places you should avoid playing at them