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The history of casino laws and regulations in the UK

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Gambling has always been a part of civilisation, but prior to the 17th century, the concept was “chance” was unfounded. Many believed that there was no such thing as a random outcome, only an act of God. So, in ancient times, if you rolled a dice and it shows a six, this could’ve meant that the gods are looking upon you favorably.

However, from this, gambling began to evolve into that which we know today, and the concept of games of chance was developed. From the earliest forms of dice being used to communicate with higher forces, to enjoying your favourite games at a casino such as Griffon Casino online, for example. Join us as we discover the history of casino laws and regulations in the UK, so the next time you throw the dice or place your bets, you’ll know just how we got to where we are in the modern day.

Middle Ages

The Middle Ages are marked as the period of time roughly 1,000 years up to the rise of the Roman Empire. At this point, gambling was deemed a leisure activity, rather than a commercial opportunity. At the time, upper-class citizens would place bets on things like horses, cockfighting and chess, and eventually even card games in the 15th century. The lower class would wager on dice and games like Craps.

In 1190, King Richard noticed how popular gambling was becoming, so he introduced the first legislation to dictate who could gamble and how much. He decided that only noblemen could bet, and they could only gamble 20 shillings a day.

In 1399, King Richard II introduced laws to stop people spending money on dice games, and eventually restricted all gaming to non-work days in 1397. Henry VIII then put forward a new legislation, outlawing all gaming outside of the Royal Court on every day apart from Christmas and festivals.

Lottery games

In the 17th century, Lotteries became popular, with thanks to Queen Elizabeth. The Queen drew up a Royal Charter for Lottery games in 1569, and another in 1585. The idea was to regulate gameplay, as many casino games were still being played underground’. The first of these Lotteries had a £5,000 prize pot and immunity from arrest for a petty crime. Following this, King James I granted the Virginia Company permission to hold a lottery to fund their settlements, and King Charles I held many to help finance London’s water supply.

In 1694, the first national lottery was authorised by Parliament. But not long after, in 1721, private lotteries were outlawed as the State sought to maximise its takings. At this time, Lotteries were used to deal state bonds, reduce debts and even raise funds for projects like Westminster Bridge and the British Museum. In 1823, Lotteries were outlawed yet again, due to speculation and outrage over riggings. It wasn’t until 1993 that another national lottery was held.

Horse racing

On top of this, horse racing continued to gain popularity throughout England, with The Chester Cup of 1512 making history as the first thoroughbred race in the country. By 1709, many courses dedicated to horse racing were up and running, and by 1722, as many as 122 towns and cities held races – spurring on the creation of the Gaming Act of 1739. Eventually Bookies sprung up on street corners.

It was also during the 17th century that France had carried Blackjack over to America, and many other casino games were gaining popularity, making their way over to the UK in time for the enforcement of The Gaming Act of 1845, which would declare all gambling contracts legally nullified and unenforceable, meaning that the State could remove themselves from involvement with issues surrounding gambling debt – placing the responsibility back on those who chose to bet.

The Betting Act of 1853, made it illegal to keep a place for betting, which meant that both these acts ban all forms of commercial gaming for the working class, apart from the unaffordable horse betting.

Modern day

In the 1998, The Gaming Act that was put in place paved the way for casinos as we know them, with laws being put in place to regulate gambling, rather than prohibit it – as it was clear that this would not be possible in the long run. The Licensing Act of 2003 and Gaming Act of 2005 changed the way casino gaming was thought about, which led to huge economic growth in the gaming industries.

This also ensured that online casinos would have full licensing from the UK Gambling Commission, which has only helped to build the players’ trust with the casino, causing the industry to continue to grow as a result.

Gambling can be addictive, please play responsibly.
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