Full Guide to Legal Gambling Age in the UK

Legal Gambling Age

/ 12 min

We’ve seen many studies that tackle underage gambling and its ongoing effects, so we made it our mission to explain how important it is to respect the legal gambling age in the UK and what happens if a player breaks the law.

At the end of this guide, you will also know the legal gambling status of each country in the UK, alongside the regulatory bodies that govern each of them.


Gambling at a very young age can severely impact both mental and physical health, with repercussions that can last a lifetime.

How old do you have to be to gamble?

Country Online casino age limit Land-based casino age limit
England 18 18
Scotland 18 18
Wales 18 18
Northern Ireland 18 18

Be aware

As a general rule, players must be at least 18 to participate in gambling activities. This applies to all countries that are part of the United Kingdom.

Anyone who tries to break the law (be it a player or casino operator) will receive severe sanctions.

How old do you have to be to bet in Northern Ireland?

Since gambling in Northern Ireland is regulated separately from UKGC and implies other laws. Nonetheless, the legal age still remains 18 years old.

Gambling age versus youth gambling

Gambling age versus youth gambling

In recent years, the percentage of children who accessed the gambling world skyrocketed, even compared to other illegal activities, like alcohol abuse.

A gambling addiction’s point of entry may be earlier than you’d think!

Can gambling be disguised as gaming?

In some cases, yes! Many games nowadays have loot boxes and skins which players can either buy or win along the way.

But there’s a catch!

These features are designed to change the design of your avatar or to receive some weapons that you can use throughout the game.

Naturally, the idea behind them is to make you unlock more and more features without taking into account the risks that come with them because you don’t actually know what you will get.

The same principle is found in Slot games!

In those cases, you spin the machine and hope to earn something, according to the Random Number Generator.

Although, for now, the link between video games and gambling hasn’t been explored exhaustively, many have noticed that loot boxes and skins are a form of gambling.

They enable the idea of reward, conditioned by risk-taking (either with money or for free). This compels young people to keep going until they find a satisfactory feature that fits well in their gameplay.

Gambling regulatory bodies

Gambling regulatory bodies

We’ve seen the multitude of games and their set legal age for each one, it’s time to see the institutions that regulate them.

We can divide them into two categories:

  • UKGC for England, Scotland and Wales (that runs under the Gambling Act 2005);
  • Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (NI) Order 1985 specifically for Northern Ireland.
  • The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC) regulates gambling on the Isle of Man.

They apply to brick-and-mortar and online casinos and also include betting and the national lottery.


As of September 2021, Northern Ireland has been taking steps to give the current Bill the status of law. One interesting provision relates to using the funds earned by casinos to support institutions that deal with gambling addiction.

How do online casinos check if you have the legal gambling age?

How do online casinos check if you have the legal gambling age

UK online casinos are extremely strict when it comes to identity verification. This is a result of UKGC’s enforced policy which strives to eliminate the risk of underage gambling.

Complying with UKGC’s directives, casinos have introduced the so-called KYC (Know Your Customer) check, to be performed by everyone who wants to gamble on their websites.


Players must send a series of documents known as Personal Identifiable Information, to attest their identity, for example, a driver’s license copy, utility bill or bank statement.

And, to add even more security, these checks are conducted regularly by casino operators to certify that the person who has access to such sites possesses the legal gambling age to engage in these activities.

The KYC procedure, in itself, is much more complex, and its purpose spreads among multiple branches, like responsible gambling, anti-money laundering and many others. It is important to get accustomed to the KYC check if you want to know exactly what to expect from an online casino.

How do land-based casinos check if you have the legal gambling age?

How do land-based casinos check if you have the legal gambling age

If you believe that online casino rules are pretty strict when it comes to confirming the legal gambling age, the same thorough verification takes place in brick-and-mortar ones.

This time, players must present an ID, right at the entrance, along with their phone number. In this instance, as opposed to the online world, this type of verification implies another factor other than gambling: alcohol serving.

Many land-based operators put several drinks at the players’ disposal as part of the overall casino atmosphere. So, naturally, the degree of responsibility is much higher.

What happens if you get caught gambling under 18 in the UK?

What happens if you get caught gambling under 18 in the UK

First things first, you should know that participating in gambling activities while under 18 years old is considered an offence and, thus, is punishable by law.

At the same time, casino sites that do not abide by the law and include minors in their activities (in any shape or form) also face serious penalties.

Let’s see what exactly happens to each!

What happens to the player?

The United Kingdom is very strict when you disobey any law that concerns gambling. Its yearly national goal is to come up with even more reliable and complex strategies to keep children and young people away from this type of activity.

Thus, the Gambling Act 2005 stipulates the various consequences you may face, depending on the degree of your offence, followed by the UKGC. Be aware that these range from fines to imprisonment.


In case players engage in any actions that may look suspicious, the gambling platform will close their accounts and even permanently ban them from that particular website and its sister sites.

What happens to the casino operators?

What happens to the casino operators

Players who break the law concerning the gambling age limit in the UK are not the only ones held accountable.

Actually, online and offline casinos must also make sure to strictly follow all UKGC provisions and regulations that came into force until the present day, such as rigorous and permanent KYC and AML checks.

Similar to minor gambling, the penalties for this illegal behaviour are drastic and, besides the legal consequences that may arise, the entire company could be forced to close its doors forever.

The employment of minors is also illegal!

Not only does a casino have the responsibility to prevent underage people from accessing their facilities, but they must also prevent children from engaging in any gambling related activity, included but not limited to employment. Otherwise, they may receive up to 51 weeks in jail.

Thus, it is crucial to understand and remember your rights and obligations every time you get in contact with a gambling platform, on the one hand, to know your restrictions, and, on the other, to have valid premises in case your rights are infringed.


Ioana Constantinescu
Author Ioana Constantinescu Author & Editor at CasinoAlpha
Tudor Turiceanu
Author Tudor Turiceanu CEO & Chief Editor at CasinoAlpha

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