1. Home
  2. /
  3. Blog
  4. /
  5. History of Gambling in...

History of Gambling in the UK


Casino gambling has always been a part of British culture. From the Victorian era to the technology-driven 21st-century world, casino gambling has continued to fascinate people of all ages. But have you ever wondered how did it all start? And how it evolved? Stick with us as we explore the history of gambling in the UK in complete detail.

Early modern era

Gambling is a form of recreational activity in the UK since the Roman era. Before the advent of online casino UK and other internet-based casino platforms, wagering on pub games and visiting gambling houses were the go-to choices for most gamblers in the country.

While gambling was legal during the early modern era, some specific periods saw the introduction of laws against casino gambling. For instance, in 1338, Richard II introduced a rule restricting spending on dice-based casino games. It followed by the Unlawful Games Act of 1541, which threatened to make casino gambling illegal. Interestingly, these acts were hardly ever enforced.

This was also when the first lottery was conducted in the United Kingdom. In 1566, Queen Elizabeth wanted to secure funds to repair harbours. For that, she announced the UK’s first lottery with a prize pool of £5,000 and offered protection from trivial crimes. However, with just a few thousand tickets sold, the lottery failed to garner much success. But after that, lotteries steadily became one of the forms of casino gambling in the UK.

The commercialisation of horse racing and gambling houses

In the 16th century, the sport of Horse Racing was gaining popularity among the Brits. The year 1512 saw the UK organising its first thoroughbred race in the form of the Chester Cup. It was followed by another horse racing competition held in Doncaster in 1513. Back then, horse racing competitions usually involved two horses. So, bettors had to confine themselves to the match betting option when wagering on these events. By the mid-18th century, horse racing events were held in 122 different towns and cities in the UK, leading to the increased growth of horse race betting.

The 17th century in the UK also saw the commercialisation of gambling houses. Casino gambling,exclusively reserved for the Royal Court before that, was now accessible to the UK’s upper class. This was also the time when several casino classics went on garner immense popularity in the UK and other parts of the world. The virtual versions of these casino games, which come with the same basics and traditional gameplay rules, can easily be found when playing at the best mobile casino like ours.

The Victorian era

The Victorian era, that lasted between the year 1837 to 1901, was a defining period for the UK’s casino gambling world. This was the time when the first gambling venues appeared on the scene. Also, this was the time when Roulette, Blackjack, horse racing and sports betting first became accessible to both the rich and the poor.

With the advent of trains helped people travel to a racecourse from almost every part of the country. Also, the invention of the telegraph made it possible for bookies to transfer odds and other betting-related information. So, even if a bettor couldn’t travel to a racecourse, they still had the chance to enjoy sports betting.

Casino gambling in the 20th and 21st century

The 20th century brought many new opportunities for casino gambling in the UK. After the end of World War II, casino games like Housie and Poker found several new players in the country. The Gaming Act was enacted in the 1968 to legalise casino gambling and sports betting in the UK. This resulted in development of over 13,000 betting shops in just a few months.

The internet boom of the 1990s completely changed the way Brits enjoy casino gaming. Today, it’s possible for players to enjoy online Blackjack, Slots, Roulette and other casino games from the comfort of their homes. Also, live casinos allows players to play casino games against a human dealer in real time. What’s more, the advent of mobile casinos means UK players can access casino gaming whenever and wherever they want. Indeed, casino gambling has come a very long way!