This is a slightly tricky question to answer, for the simple reason that the answer is ‘sometimes’. If a betting company has a licence to operate in the country that you find yourself in then it’s possible you will be allowed to bet whilst you’re there. It becomes more complicated if they don’t have a licence in that country or if the country has different licensing conditions that means you can’t use your UK account there.
The reason it’s more complicated is that you can bypass restrictions in some countries by using a Virtual Private Network, but in doing so you run the risk of breaching your betting site’s terms and conditions. That means that they can refuse to pay out winnings or even revoke your account if you do so, making it at your own risk.
You can of course bet with a foreign betting company if they have shops in the country you are in or you can register for a foreign account if you have residential status in another country with an address, if you are an expat for example. You can read more about this on our betting in foreign countries page.
Betting sites that offer their wares online have to have a licence to operate in certain countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, any company that offers its services to customers within the UK must be licensed by the Gambling Commission in order to be able to do so, facing fines if they don’t have said licence.
The issue you might face sometimes is that the country that you’re in hasn’t given a licence to your favourite betting company, for whatever reason, or they don’t allow gambling at all. If that’s the case then you’ll find that when you attempt to place a bet with the site you’ll be told that you can’t, if you can even get on the site in the first place.
A number of the bigger companies out there will have licences in countries all around the world, which will obviously make it easier to place bets if you’re in one of those countries as long as you are using one of those companies to place your bets. Obviously that’s annoying, but it’s the way that licensing works when it comes to gambling sites.
One of the best options is to have several betting accounts as different brands operate in different regions, this way you have more coverage. There are some countries however where gambling is illegal and you will not be able to use any site legally in that scenario. It’s not just a matter of falling foul of the operator terms either, by breaking the law in a country where gambling is banned you could be prosecuted.
Getting Around The Problem
The simple truth is that not everyone will bet with the big companies and even those that do won’t want to limit their travel options to countries that the betting sites have licences for. With that in mind, one of the things that you can do is install a Virtual Private Network on your computer, mobile phone or tablet.
Usually referred to simply by its acronym of VPN, a Virtual Private Network is a way of tricking your computer into thinking that it is based in a different location to the one it is actually in. This is because any device connected to the internet has an IP address assigned to it, telling the rest of the World Wide Web where it is.
A VPN ‘spoofs’ your IP address to make it look like it’s somewhere else. When a gambling site therefore checks your IP address it will see that you’re located in the UK rather than, say, Spain. VPNs usually allow you to determine where in the world you’d like to pretend to be, so as long as you pick the UK you should be alright.
This isn’t a foolproof system, though. Companies are becoming more and more aware of people using VPNs to make it look like they’re somewhere that they’re not. This is why it won’t work to persuade Netflix, say, that you’re in England so you can carry on watching your favourite TV show. If the betting site has blocked the use of VPNs it won’t work.
Is Using A VPN Legal?
In the vast majority of instances, using a VPN is an entirely legal thing to do. They are often used by paranoid people to hide their information so that they can surf the web without feeling as though they’re being tracked by the government or that Google is following their every move.
Ironically, in the UK and the United States of America, the government might well be monitoring your every move even when you use a VPN, thanks to the fact that laws have been passed that allow them to do so. This is getting off topic slightly, but you see the point that there is nothing illegal about using a VPN most of the time.
The sentence ‘most of the time’ might be a concern for some of you, but it’s only been used because some countries have different rules over VPNs. China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Oman, Russia, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates all have differing levels of laws on VPN usage, so be careful if you’re in one of those countries.
The question of legality when it comes to placing a bet using a VPN is a tricky one to navigate. If gambling is illegal in the country in which you find yourself, using a VPN to place your bet doesn’t stop you from breaking the local law. It will be tricky for them to find out you’ve done so, but that’s only part of the problem.
When it comes to the actual betting sites themselves, it’s a bit of a grey area. On the one hand, most have terms and conditions that state that it is forbidden to place bets using a VPN as they wan’t to be able to check you are who you say you are and you’re based where you say you’re based for anti-money laundering reasons.
That being said, it’s not outrageous to suggest that some gambling companies will turn a blind eye to the use of a VPN if you’re losing bets because they’ll be making money from your account. A lot of betting companies do have software that is designed to be able to spot a VPN being used. If they suspect you of it they might end or limit your account.
The short answer to the initial question, then, is that it is perfectly possible to bet with your UK account when you’re in a foreign country. It’s just that that answer is confused somewhat by a number of mitigating circumstances. The best way to be safe and not sorry is to only bet in a county where you know your company of choice is licensed.