Can A Non-Resident Gamble In the UK?

british passport travelDespite what some daft racists might have you believe, part of what makes the United Kingdom such a fantastic country is the willingness to welcome others from different cultures to our shores. Whether it be those from our nearby neighbours like France and Spain that want to come over and make England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland their home, or those that are fleeing persecution and war and hoping to meet up with family here, the UK has a rich history of welcoming those from further afield and making them feel at home.

The amount of people that live here having arrived from a different country is almost certainly not as large as the racists out there might have you believe, but it is large enough for some of them to wonder whether they are allowed to gamble when they’re in and about the casinos, bookmakers and other gambling establishments in the UK.

The simple answer is that yes, they are of course allowed to have a bet or two. It becomes a tad more complex if they’d like to place bets online, however, given the amount of information that they will need in order to do so.

Placing Bets In Person

Boylesports ShopThe important thing to identify front and centre is that there is nothing wrong with non-UK nationals placing bets whilst in the United Kingdom.

Betting is regulated by the Gambling Commission, basing decisions on the Gambling Act of 2005 and any and all amendments that have taken place since then. There are seven main forms of gambling that take place in the UK, which are as follows:

  • Arcades
  • Gaming Machines
  • Bingo
  • Lotteries
  • Betting in Shops
  • Betting at Racecourses
  • Casinos

If you are from a foreign country and engage in any of those forms of betting then you are not doing anything illegal and you are well within your rights to enjoy yourself with games of chance or sports betting. Those are obviously all of the main ways of gambling that you can do in person, which is all but impossible to decide whether you’re from the UK or not anyway.

Though some casinos might need you to become a member in order to be allowed to gamble in their establishment, you are not likely to have to present any identification in order to be able to do so, which is ideal if you’re not from the country.

You could walk into any of an arcade, a betting shop or a bingo hall and place bets there without having to give anyone any information about yourself. Depending on what it is that you’re doing, you won’t even have to talk to anyone, lest you are worried about an accent giving away the fact that you’re not from the country.

That is just for your own benefit, though, when you consider the fact that even if someone does hear a foreign accent you aren’t doing anything wrong by placing a bet. Regardless of whether you’re buying lottery tickets, scratch cards or betting on football, it’s absolutely fine to do so.

It is key to note that in the UK tax isn’t charged on any winnings, rather tax is paid up front by the operator when you place your bet, known as a point of consumption tax.  This means wherever you come from if you place a bet with a licensed operator in the UK you are paying tax and so the government is happy.

Betting Online

poa spelt with wooden blocks colourful lettersWhilst you’re still allowed to place bets online even if you’re from a foreign country, it can obviously be harder to do so because of the various rules and regulations that are in place.

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has certain expectations of its licensees, which must be met in order for them to maintain their licence and continue to operate legally. Some of the most important are the Know Your Customer rules, which are there in order to ensure that the likes of money laundering and other wrongs aren’t done.

This includes having to inform a betting company of who you are and where you live, giving them proof of both things. You will need to have the likes of photographic identification that shows a real version of yourself. Similarly, you will need official letters that show where you live having been sent to your home. These will have to be from British banks, building societies or local governments, so bank accounts from your home country won’t be able to be used when you are trying to prove who you are to online betting sites.

There are numerous ways that people can get official letters that are good enough for online betting companies to count towards their KYC requirements. If you have been able to open a bank account then letters regarding that are likely to work, for example, as well as the likes of letters from your local council or your electricity and gas providers. In other words, provided you have registered the fact that you live here and are doing so legally, you will almost certainly be able to sign up with an online betting account and place bets.

You Probably Won’t Be Able To Bet Online When Home

plane flyingIf you tend to spend your time between the United Kingdom and your country of origin, you might not be able to place bets online when you’re at home. That is because of the rules and regulations that surround betting in foreign countries.

There are some countries that have licences to allow you to bet whilst you’re there, even if your account is with a company that is based in the UK. Usually, this is either because there is an agreement in place between governments or because the company that you’re registered with has a licence in the other country.

Some sites don’t have such licences, however, and therefore it is all but impossible for you to place bets legally whilst out of the United Kingdom. You can try to use the likes of a Virtual Private Network to ‘spoof’ the presence of you in the UK, but this is usually against the terms and conditions of online betting operators. This is the sort of thing that you need to bear in mind when you’re looking at placing bets with your online account, especially if you’re back in your home country when you’re looking to place some wagers.