Gambling has been an integral part of British life for hundreds of years, if not thousands. Of course, back in the early days gambling was nothing like it is now. Centuries ago, the British would bet on horses, card games or chess. By the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth had legalised lotteries and those remained popular during the following centuries.
However popular other forms of gaming were in the UK, horse races prevailed as the most prestigious one. Horse races continued to grow in popularity throughout the 17th century and, in the 18th century, the UK witnessed the establishment of the biggest horse racing institutions.
As time passed, betting addiction in the UK increased, that lead to strict restrictions on gambling and, for some time, horse races were the only legal form of gambling.
First Private Gaming Clubs
The government eventually loosened restrictions and this paved the way for the establishment of the first British casinos. The first UK casinos represented gambling clubs which could be accessed by members exclusively. One of the first gambling clubs to set up shop was Crockfords, which was opened in 1828.
The gaming landscape in the UK consisted primarily of private gambling clubs until 1960 when the government passed the Gaming Act 1960, which legalised all casinos.
First British Casinos
Not long after the Gaming Act 1960 went into effect, George Alfred James, the man known as the "Father of British casinos", opened a gaming establishment in Wales. The enterprise known as the Casino Club Port Talbot initially offered services to members exclusively, and it was believed to be the first legal casino on UK soil. At Casino Club Port Talbot, gamblers would enjoy games like blackjack, baccarat, and slots. According to Bonus Insider, the Casino Club Port Talbot offered much more than simple gaming options. In fact, it represented a mix of fine dining and casino gaming options.
In 1962 George Alfred James opened the Prince of Wales Club in Cardiff, the Kingsway Casino, and The Golden Horseshoe, thus enlarging his casino empire immensely.
Casino Chains in the UK
Apart from local gaming establishments, also houses several big casino chains.
Malaysian casino company Genting Group has been operating on UK soil for years. Since 2010, the company owns more than 47 casinos all over the country, making it the biggest casino chain in the UK. The Genting Group is the owner of two casino brands: the Genting Casino and the Genting Club.
Founded back in 2007, Grosvenor Casinos is another enormous casino chain which operates on UK soil. At present, the company owns more than 30 casinos throughout the country.
How Internet Casinos Emerged in the UK
In 1994, the Island of Antigua and Barbados signed the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act, which allowed for the establishment of the first online casinos. The first company to take advantage of web technologies was Microgaming, which launched the first online casino in 1994. Shortly after the launch of the first online casino, several other operators set up their own gaming sites. An online casino owned by the Riokin brothers even featured a transaction system, the first of its kind.
In 1998, William Hill launched the first online casino in the UK. By the start of the 21st century, web technologies had spread significantly, allowing numerous households around the globe to utilise them. As more and more people got connected to the Internet, online casinos within the UK thrived and complaints against online casinos increased significantly.
Currently, there are hundreds of online gaming sites available to UK customers. What is more, the UK boasts one of the most well-regulated online gaming markets; anyone wishing to offer services to British citizens must obtain a license from the UK Gambling Commission. The licensing policy applies since 2014 when the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act.