Your A to Z guide to UK gambling - The Coventry Observer

Your A to Z guide to UK gambling

Gambling has been one of our favourite pastimes as a society for centuries. Through periods of illegality, niche popularity and mainstream social acceptance, gambling has always had a place in our lives. Card games, slot machine games, dice games and betting on sports or other events all have their audiences.

Technological advances have brought a lot of changes and advancements to gambling. The games and betting are still the same at heart, but technology has introduced new ways to play, bet and enjoy them. Online casinos and online sports betting are now as popular — if not more so — than their traditional land-based counterparts.

In this A to Z guide to UK gambling, we’ll break down everything you need to know about this hobby. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been playing cards and betting on the ponies for decades or if you’re just getting started with games of chance, there’s always more you can learn and a question that might need answering.

Accumulator bets

Accumulator bets are bets that are made up of several single bets. In order to pay out, all of the bets that make up the accumulator bet have to be winners. Accumulator bets are a high risk, high reward type of bet. They are also known as parlay bets in some countries.

Acca insurance

Acca insurance is short for accumulator insurance. This is a type of bonus that protects bettors who place accumulator bets by letting them swap out a losing bet for a new bet so that they have better odds of being able to collect on their accumulator bet.

Betting shop

Betting shops are physical locations where you can place bets on sports events. They have a long history in the UK and are often a good place to hear tips on upcoming events or to chat with other bettors about the latest sporting news.


Bookmakers are the ones who set the odds for sportsbooks. They use a combination of statistical analysis, match research, historical comparison and gut instinct to calculate the odds. The best bookmakers are in high demand.


The gambling world is a competitive one, so in order to attract new players, online casinos and sports betting apps offer welcome bonuses. Welcome bonuses combine rewards that make getting started easier and less risky. The most common bonuses are free spins on top slot machine games, deposit matching, free bets and risk-free bets.

Credit cards

It is illegal to make gambling payments with a credit card in the UK. This rule helps to protect players due to how easy credit cards make it to spend more money than you intend to.

Gambling budget

Setting a gambling budget is a key step in keeping gambling fun. Setting and sticking to a budget allows you to play and bet without worrying or negatively impacting your finances.

Gambling laws

The UK has very fair and modern gambling laws that cover both land-based and online gambling. For players who are traveling and want to continue to play as they go, it is important to remember that not all countries have such well-balanced laws. In many countries, online casinos are not yet legal. Always check before you play when abroad.

In-game betting

In-game betting, also known as live betting, is a type of sports betting where you can place bets while the game is in progress. Not every bookmaker will offer in-game betting. In-game betting is best reserved for experienced bettors because the odds can change very quickly and bets need to be placed decisively.


In order to operate legally in the UK, all gambling businesses need to have a valid license issued by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). The UKGC is one of the most respected licensing bodies in the world. Many countries accept a UKGC license. Other trusted licenses that UK players may come across are granted by Malta, Gibraltar and Curaçao.

Live casino games

Live casino games are the future of online casinos, and the closest players can get to a real casino experience while playing online. Live casino games feature a real dealer that players can interact with. A combination of software and streaming enables players to see and interact with the cards as they leave the dealer’s hands.

The audience for these games has been steadily increasing in recent years. While initially limited to table games, the top online casinos now provide more varied live casino games. Some of these new live games are inspired by famous board games and television game shows.

Offshore casinos

Offshore casinos are online casinos that do not have the required licenses to operate legally within the UK. They can be tempting because most offer high bonuses or good odds. However, many are not legitimate and players who are scammed by them do not have the same protections as players who play at fully licensed online casinos.

Online betting apps

Online betting apps have become the most popular way to place bets. The major high street sportsbooks all now offer online betting apps. There are also many online-only betting brands. In addition to being incredibly convenient, online betting apps generally provide more options for bets and offer odds on more sports.

Online casinos

Online casinos are the rising venue for playing casino games. They offer serious competition to traditional land-based casinos because they are more convenient and accessible from anywhere. They also typically offer a wider variety of games. Many traditional casino brands now also have online casinos because they understand the appeal and potential of the digital gambling world.

There are a huge number of online casinos to choose from. Casino review sites and guides can help players make an informed decision about where to create an account and play.

Payment methods

With the rise of online casinos and betting apps, digital payment methods have become essential. The top payment methods include e-wallets, payment apps and bank transfers. Cryptocurrency has also found an audience as a payment method. Thankfully there are now guides to casino payment methods such as Paygamble, that make everything clear and lay out the pros and cons of each method.

Poker varieties

Poker is one of the most widely played card games. There are a number of different varieties, and it is important to know the rules and special characteristics of each. Texas Hold ‘Em has been the most widely played type of poker for the last two decades because it is the easiest to learn. Other popular versions are 5 Card Omaha, 5 Card Stud and 7 Card Stud. Chinese Poker is an up-and-coming variant.

Progressive jackpots

Progressive jackpot games are ones where the jackpot grows as players play. The pool of players can range from everyone playing at the same online casino to all players in the same geographical area. Progressive jackpots often have the highest payouts of any casino game because the jackpot has essentially been contributed to by all the players.

Prop bets

Standard bets are usually placed on the outcome of a game. Prop bets are bets that are placed on events that will happen during the game. Prop bets can include things such as the number of corner kicks there will be, how many cards the referee will give or which player will score first. Prop bets can also be a bit more creative. They can be on fun things like what colour boots a player will wear, if a manager will be removed for their behaviour or how many players will remove their shirts to celebrate a goal.

Slot machine games

Slot machine games are the most popular type of gambling game in the UK and around the world. Slots are played at physical machines or online. Physical slot machines are found not only in casinos but also frequently in pubs, bingo halls, betting shops, ferry boats and other venues with a gaming license.

Online casinos have massive slot machine game libraries. Most have hundreds of titles and some of the best ones even have thousands of different slot machine games. The variety and ease of play are two of the reasons why they are so popular.

Table games

Table games are the classic casino games that are traditionally played while standing around or sitting at a table. Most table games are card games. The most popular are poker, blackjack and baccarat. Not all table games feature cards however. Roulette is a table game and the most iconic of all casino games. Another leading table game is craps, which is a dice game.


In the UK, players do not have to pay taxes on their winnings from gambling. Instead, gambling businesses are taxed at a slightly higher rate.

UK betting sports

Football is the number one betting sport in the United Kingdom. It is closely followed by horse racing and cricket. Other popular sports to bet on include rugby union, rugby league, tennis, snooker, boxing and GAA. Professional American sports are also popular among bettors, especially the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB.

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