United Kingdom online poker overview
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The United Kingdom is readily recognized as one of the most, if not the most, online poker-friendly countries in the world.
No consumer taxes, permissive regulations, and strong modern gambling traditions have shaped it into a European iGaming enthusiast’s dream. UK citizens don’t have to deal with the legal ambiguities and country restrictions that seem to plague the global poker scene these days, nor do they have to use VPNs to play on unregulated offshore poker sites. Most importantly, they don’t have to settle for second-class networks when picking poker platforms.
The only negative aspect of the UK’s legal situation is that the majority of quintessentially British gambling businesses, such as Ladbrokes, Bet365, and William Hill, moved their headquarters offshore. However, this is not at all surprising, considering how uncompetitive the UK’s tax system is when compared to the likes of Gibraltar or Isle of Man.
United Kingdom online poker laws
Two important, 21st-century legal documents outlined regulations pertaining specifically to online poker. The first was the Gambling Act of 2005, which essentially guaranteed players the freedoms they were already enjoying at the time. It explicitly allowed UK-based players to play on poker platforms of their own choosing, outlawed cheating, and transferred licensing authority to local regulatory bodies.
The second was the 2014 Gambling Bill, which reintroduced licenses for offshore gambling sites looking to offer services to UK residents. Keep in mind this bill did not fence-off the UK gambling market. It simply imposed a point-of-consumption tax on UK-facing operators. As hard as it is to believe, the UK didn’t have any regulations mandating poker sites pay relevant operator-side taxes. On the contrary, the British regulators were counting on sites to pay their dues voluntarily.
What is or is not legal in the United Kingdom?
UK residents have had legal access to all the poker variants available online since the earliest days of the industry. Cash games? Check. Sit & Go tournaments? Check. Multi-table tournaments? You bet. Everything was available right from the get-go. As mentioned above, UK legislators have never made any serious attempts at changing this.
The United Kingdom and poker-related taxes
UK-based players haven’t had to pay any consumer taxes on online poker throughout the poker boom, an era which started back when Chris Moneymaker won his WSOP bracelet in 2003. What’s more, players don’t have to pay them to this day. This is due to the fact that in 2002, the Labour government got rid of consumer taxes on all forms of gambling in an attempt to encourage local iGaming enthusiasts to play on local sites.
Where can I play poker online in the United Kingdom?
PokerStars is the unquestionable king of the online poker world. This site is so popular that it accounts for more than a half of the global online poker traffic. If that isn’t enough, the bonuses available are among the best in the industry. If you’re going to play on one site only, PokerStars should probably be it.
Furthermore, this site can afford to provide its customers with access to more poker variants than any other poker rooms. This is due to its huge player pool, which makes it possible to sustain variants like Omaha and even Stud for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Players at PokerStars will enjoy cash games with stakes ranging from the micros to the high-limits. It also boasts a huge variety of multi-table and single-table tournaments and some of the best satellites in the industry. No other poker room even comes close.
PokerStars’ daughter sites include:
- PokerStars Europe (formerly PokerStars.fr and PokerStars.es)
- PokerStars NJ
888poker is the second-largest UK-facing online poker room. The player pool is about seven times smaller than PokerStars’, but many people still prefer the former due to its significantly softer games. If you’re planning to hunt some fish at the micros, this is the right place to go.
Now, most 888poker regulars focus exclusively on low-limit hold’em, but you’re guaranteed to find a few Omaha tables running during peak-traffic hours. What’s more, 888 offers a surprisingly robust tournament lineup with plenty of big events scheduled on the weekends. Still, the prize pools tend to be significantly smaller than on PokerStars.
Then, Party Poker markets itself as the most newbie-friendly online poker room on the web. This isn’t far from the truth. Its traffic is slightly lower than on 888poker, but the difference isn’t all that noticeable. The welcome package is pretty mediocre by industry standards, but the rakeback program is absolutely amazing.
This third site is all about low-stake Hold’em and casual, multi-table tournaments with surprisingly high prize pools. If you’re looking for a good place to chill after a tough session on PokerStars, this site is guaranteed to deliver.
Party Poker is also available in New Jersey, Spain, and France.
The names Ladbrokes, William Hill, Coral, and even Bet365 should ring a bell among British sports bettors. They belong to companies that have been operating in the UK’s land-based sports-betting market for decades. Among younger poker fans, they are probably better known as some of the best sites on the iPoker network.
The iPoker network is all about low- and micro-stakes Texas Hold’em and Omaha action. Whether you’re looking for 24/7 cash games, Turbo Sit & Go’s, or daily multi-table tournaments, iPoker fits the bill.
Certain iPoker skins are also available in Spain, Italy, and France.
Where can I play poker live in the United Kingdom?
With 578 poker tables spread across 78 rooms located all over the country, the United Kingdom is a perfect place for people who enjoy physically playing poker. It’s also a major tournament hot-spot, with major events scheduled on a weekly basis. Below, find a short list of UK brick-and-mortar poker rooms worth visiting:
- Dusk Till Dawn (Redfield Way, Boulevard Retail Park, Lenton, Nottingham, NG7 2UW)
- The Vic (150-162 Edgware Rd, London W2 2DT)
- The Hippodrome (Cranbourn St, Leicester Square, London WC2H 7JH)
- Aspers Stratford (312 Montfichet Rd, Olympic Park, London E20 1ET)
- G Casino Coventry (Ricoh Arena, Phoenix Way, Coventry CV6 6GE)
- Empire Poker Room (6 Leicester Street, London WC2H)
- Grosvenor Casino Victoria London Poker Room (150-162 Edgware Rd, Marylebone, London W2 2DT)
History of online poker in the United Kingdom
The roots of modern online poker-related regulations can be traced back to the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960. This act allowed UK residents to bet on Bridge and other games of skill. It also allowed UK-based businesses to open betting shops across the country. In 1965, over 15,000 betting shop licenses had been issued by local magistrates.
The second breakthrough for UK-based gambling came with the Gaming Act of 1968, which added land-based casinos to the mix. In 2005, the Gaming Act was expanded to include massive Las Vegas-style gambling establishments. It’s worth noting, however, that this came with rather strict limits on the total number of venues of this type that could be built. These set the stage for all the aforementioned modern legislative acts.
United Kingdom PayPal deposits
PayPal ranks as the most popular e-wallet among the general population and the online poker world. It allows for lightning-fast withdrawals and risk-free deposits. Unfortunately, PayPal is very strict when it comes to gambling-related transactions. If there’s any doubt regarding the legal status of poker in a given player’s country of residence, this banking method won’t even show up in the cashier menu.
Fortunately, since the United Kingdom is one of the most iGaming-friendly countries in the world, players based there can readily use PayPal to load up their online poker accounts on all major poker platforms, including PokerStars, 888poker, and partypoker.