Betting on the outcome of sports events has been one of the most popular forms of recreation for centuries. Such activities enjoy an ever-growing popularity throughout the world. Yet, placing bets on sports is more widespread in specific countries and Scotland is one of them. It’s important to mention Scotland is part of the United Kingdom and as such, all gambling activities which take place on its territory are regulated by the UK Gambling Commission.
Sports have always played a central role in Scots’ culture. Interestingly, the country is home to the second oldest football league in the entire world.
In fact, variations of this popular game have been played in Scotland for centuries and you probably would be surprised to find the earliest references to football in Scotland can be traced back to the first half of the 15th century. Furthermore, the first ever game of football was played in 1872 between Scotland and England.
Yet football is not the only game associated with the country. Did you know golf also originated in Scotland in the 15th century? In fact, the country is frequently referred to as the “Home of Golf”. The first professional golf championship was in fact held in the Scottish town of Ayrshire in 1860.
Find the best Scotland bookmakers here
With such history, it’s not surprising sports betting is so popular and widely spread in Scotland. Although people had been wagering on the outcome of sports games for centuries, the first legal betting shops in the country opened doors in the second half of the 20th century.
Throughout most of the 19th century, betting was considered illegal, yet it remained a rather common practice throughout the United Kingdom, Scotland included. Charles Dickens himself spoke against betting in 1852 and did not hesitate to put a stress on its corruptive influence on British youth. In 1853, the Act for the Suppression of Betting Houses” was enforced. It rendered sports betting, along with all forms of gambling, illegal. Soon after, all betting shops went out of business. This step, however, did little to prevent Scots from enjoying wagering on sports. The ban caused many illegal betting establishments to emerge on the scene. Illegal betting enjoyed an impressive popularity for the next 108 years.
Mass unemployment reigned throughout Scotland in the 1930s. Despite that, a great number of Scots opted for placing their sports bets with illegal street bookmakers. The Howffs, an old burial place located in the city of Dundee, was among the sites where over 400 punters used to gather regularly to bet illegally. Naturally, such activities lead to many convictions of illegal gambling. In the 1930s over 2,700 punters were convicted in the city of Glasgow alone. As was the case with the Prohibition of alcohol consumption in the USA, British authorities soon came to the realization it was futile to try and prohibit the population from wagering on sports. Soon after, they opted for regulating sports betting instead.
Things took turn for the better in 1961, when betting shops throughout Britain were legalized once again. The “1960 Act” imposed certain standards legitimate betting shops had to comply with. For instance, owners were not allowed to serve refreshments inside. Television sets and comfortable seating in the shops were also out of the question as strange as it may sound today.
At present, there are over 1,000 betting shops in Scotland alone and this number continues to increase at a very rapid rate. Interestingly, the number of betting shop per head of population in Scotland is mind-boggling – in Glasgow, for example, there are 40 shops per every 100,000 citizens. The city is followed by North and South Lanarkshire, Aberdeen, South Ayrshire and Falkirk.
With the advent of technologies at the end of the 20th century, most established bookmakers went online, providing punters with the opportunity to bet without having to leave their homes. That’s not the only advantage online betting has to offer. Typically, the odds offered by web-based bookmakers are much more competitive than those you will find at brick-and-mortar betting shops. Additionally, a greater number of markets are available and you can place any type of bet you wish. Features like Live Score, In-Play Betting and Live Stream further add to the merits of online betting.
Some of the most popular brand names among Scottish punters are BetVictor, Ladbrokes, BetFred, William Hill, Scotbet, Paddy Power and Bet365, among many others. All of those are licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. Read on for more information on the Commission’s regulations and the laws imposed on sports betting in Scotland.
Relevant Legislative Framework
Gambling has been a common source of concern among many countries’ authorities. In this respect, Scotland is not an exception. In the 19th century, betting on horse races was extremely popular in Scotland – a fact which can be attributed to less strict laws north of the border. With the arrival of the so called “football pools” betting on sports events became even more popular among the country’s working class.
This called for stricter regulations on gambling activities throughout the United Kingdom. In 1853 after the enforcement of the Betting Act and the Suppression of Betting Houses Act, the use of premises for gambling purposes was declared illegal. The same applied to publicly advertising sports betting and other forms of gambling. Those who were caught red-handed were imprisoned.
Enthusiastic punters throughout the country rejoiced when the 1961 Betting and Gaming Act came into force. Betting on sports and accepting wagers were no longer considered illegal activities. However, bookmakers were required to obtain a license for operation first. Regulations were exceptionally stringent. Loitering in front (and inside) licensed betting shops was viewed with suspicion and was not encouraged by authorities. Punters were expected to simply enter the shop, place their bets as quickly as possible and then discreetly leave the premises. The windows of betting shops had to be obscured until 1995.
In 2005, the UK Gambling Act was enforced. It applies to Scotland, England and Wales. All gambling activities in Scotland, sports betting included, are regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. Its primary purpose is to distribute licenses to bookmakers and gambling providers as well as to observe whether the laws are adhered to. Naturally, all registered landbased and web-based bookmakers are required to pay taxes on their revenues.
However, the Gambling Commission appoints authorized persons in Scotland, known as Licensing Standards Officers (LSOs). Their primal duty is to supervise whether or not the laws enforced by the Commission are complied with. In addition, Scottish LSOs are expected to provide information on betting operators and report on all breaches of license conditions.
The Gambling Commission has several responsibilities. Apart from issuing bookmakers’ licenses, it aims to ensure betting is conducted in a fair and transparent manner. Those, who do not comply with such conditions typically have their licenses revoked. It’s important to note the Commission has the right to issue licenses only to those bookmakers whose gambling equipment is located within the United Kingdom’s territory.
In addition, the Gambling Commission has the right to propose amendments to betting operators’ license conditions. Specially appointed representatives visit licensees to check whether all imposed requirements are complied with. Those who breach the rules are warned and fined at first and if they still violate the license conditions, their licenses are revoked as a final measure.
Yet another responsibility of the UK Gambling Commission is helping punters and promoting responsible gambling. The Commission monitors the population’s participation in gambling. On the basis of statistical analysis its representatives are able to form an adequate picture on punters’ average age. The Commission has also compiled a list of organizations which might help punters with a gambling problem.
Although sports betting and gambling in general are completely legal on the territories of Scotland, England and Wales, some restrictions are imposed by the UK Gambling Commission. For instance, web-based bookmakers are required to obtain a license for operation even if they’re not located within the territory of Great Britain. License is required if an overseas bookmaker wishes to offer its services to citizens of the United Kingdom. As was previously mentioned, such licenses are issued by the Gambling Commission.
Punters, on the other hand, are expected to place their bets at legitimate and licensed betting operators. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will be severely persecuted if they choose to bet at unauthorised operators. Nevertheless, punters are strongly advised to abstain from such actions as the latter are way too risky and there’s a good chance you may become subject of frauds. Scottish punters, who have doubts on whether or not the operator they bet at is legitimate are advised to visit the Gambling Commission’s official website. There, they will be able to find a list of all bookmakers which have obtained their licenses from the Commission.
It goes without saying only persons of legal age are allowed to place bets on sports. The legal age for gambling in the United Kingdom, and respectively in Scotland, is 18 years old. Naturally before you place a bet at an online bookmaker, you’re required to register. In the process of registration, punters are asked to enter their personal details such as their birth date, address, mobile phone number and banking details – their card’s number, for instance. This makes it impossible for under aged persons to register and place bets.
In Scotland, no taxes are imposed on the winnings you’ve accrued while betting. This can be explained with the fact, sports betting is viewed as a recreational activity and is not considered a professional occupation. This is not the case with bookmakers, though. Their gross profits are taxed at a rate of 15%.
Popular Sports to Bet On
Scotland is well-known as the birthplace of a great number of sports. With such impressive sporting heritage and traditions, no wonder sports betting enjoys such great popularity in this country. In our Historical Overview, we’ve mentioned this is the place where golf emerged for the first time. Of course, golf remains one of the most popular sports Scots bet on to this day. The great news for Scottish punters is that many UK-based online bookmakers offer an impressive number of golf markets at very appealing odds. All prestigious golf championships (including the Ryder Cup) receive extensive coverage.
Did you know the game of tennis as we know it was invented in Scotland, too? It was King James V who build the first tennis court in his Falkland residence. Naturally, when you hear the word “tennis”, the first name that comes to mind is Andy Murray. Scottish punters are given the opportunity to back their compatriot by placing a bet in his favor. Betting on tennis is one of the most popular options and is available at all web-based bookmakers.
Cycling, rugby and curling are other sports, Scots are particularly fond of. Of course, these too are listed on bookmakers’ websites and you can choose between many different markets. Many Scottish punters enjoy betting on soccer which is not surprising as this is probably the most popular sport in the entire world. Online bets can be placed on all prestigious championships – UEFA, FIFA and the Premier League are decently covered by all betting providers. More importantly, bets can be placed on events from the Scottish League 2 and the Scottish FA championship. Below, you will find more detailed information on bookmakers which accept punters from Scotland.
With so many UK-based bookmakers to choose from, the only problem Scottish punters are faced with is picking one or two to place their bets at. This is easier said than done.
That’s why we’ve attempted to narrow down the list to just five bookmakers suitable for bettors from the country.
All of them are completely reliable and offer fair betting environment, as well as a staggering number of sports markets.
The first name on our list is above all associated with tradition. The company was established by two commission agents in 1886 but the brand name Ladbrokes was adopted later on, in 1902. Today, almost 130 years later, Ladbrokes remains a leader in the betting industry with over 2,700 retail shop in the UK, Ireland and Spain and more than 800,000 active online customers.
Ladbrokes has plenty to offer to Scottish punters – fairness, security, but above all diversity. There are over thirty sports on Ladbrokes’ list and the most popular options include soccer, tennis, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, golf, American football, cricket, boxing, and cycling among many others. Hundreds of markets are available. Bets on horse and greyhounds races are also accepted. Odds on all markets are updated frequently to make sure they remain as accurate as possible. Betting on games in play is a great option for Scottish punters. A Live Streaming feature is also on offer.
Ladbrokes manages to keep up with the times as well as with popular demand. The bookmaker recognizes the needs of punters who demand greater flexibility and convenience. Betting on the go is possible as Ladbrokes is available in a mobile format as well. Those of you who wish to download and install the bookmaker’s app can do so at Ladbrokes’ official website or at Apple’s App Store. The downloadable application is compatible with Android and Windows-based mobile devices as well. Using their mobile phones, punters can place bets via text messages if they find it more convenient.
But convenience is not the only merit of betting at Ladbrokes. The established bookmaker is known for its outstanding generosity. Both new and existing customers are rewarded with numerous tempting bonuses and a number of ongoing promotional offers, designed to boost their chances of winning.
The next spot on our list is reserved for yet another established and respected name in the betting industry, namely William Hill. It’s one of the best choices punters can make. First of all, William Hill is one of the oldest bookmakers in the industry. It started off as a brick-and-mortar betting provider. Today, the website offers an amazing variety of sports markets at competitive odds. Live betting, radio and podcasts are among the features which attract punters the most. William Hill’s selection of sports is rather extensive, but some of the most popular options include ice hockey, baseball, soccer, American football, basketball, tennis, and golf. Race fans can back their favorite greyhound or bet on horse and motor racing. Thanks to the Live Streaming feature, punters can keep track of games in progress.
If you want to bet on the go and never miss your opportunity to win big, you might consider loading the website directly from your portable device’s browser. This is possible as William Hill is available in a mobile format and offers a downloadable app as well. Using the mobile service enables you to place bets (In-Play bets included), watch live streams, check games’ scores and even deposit or withdraw funds from your account.
If you face a problem, you can always turn to Williams Hills’ friendly support team. They will answer your questions via email or live chat. You can reach them over the phone, too – the line is toll-free for UK residents.
Bet365 is without question one of the premier bookmakers on the UK scene. Many punters even consider it the best option for sports betting. It offers security and fairness, but let’s not underestimate this bookmaker’s versatility in regard to sports and markets. There are literally hundreds of different markets available and you can place all types of bets you could possibly think of. Popular alternatives include soccer, basketball, boxing, baseball, hockey, tennis, horse and greyhounds racing. The so-called “exotic” bets can be placed on the outcome of political elections, as well as on TV shows.
Live Streaming and In-Play betting are also possible. A free mobile app is on offer. The latter is compatible with devices running on iOS, Android and Windows. Furthermore, most events and markets, offered on Bet365 are available on the app as well. Those who use Android or iOS devices are able to watch horse races in real time.
In addition, punters will be able to choose between numerous secure and convenient payment methods. These include e-wallets by Neteller and Skrill, Visa, Maestro and Mastercards, PayPal, iDebit and many others.
Paddy Power is a well-known Irish web-based bookmaker which also accepts punters from Scotland. It offers first-class service that lives up to the highest standards in the industry. Its coverage of sports events is very extensive. Bets can be placed on hundreds of markets, while at the same time the In-Play feature is available.
Sports that Scottish punters might find of interest are soccer, golf, cycling, tennis, boxing, basketball and volleyball. Those, who enjoy placing their bets on less conventional sports can opt for squash, ten pin bowling, table tennis, netball, lacrosse, show jumping or darts. Of course, there’s always the option of wagering on the outcome of horse and greyhounds races. Interestingly, the so called “Novelty Bets” are available. These are placed on the outcome of events which are not related to sport. For example, you can bet on who you think the winner of political elections will be or try to guess the gender of the royal couple’s baby. “Novelty Bets” can be just as profitable as regular sports wagers.
Punters who wish to bet on the go can always access Paddy Power’s website directly from their smartphone’s or tablet’s browser. Downloadable apps for Android-based devices, iPhones and iPads are also on offer.
If you’re a UK resident and enjoy sports betting, there’s a good chance you have heard the name BetFred before. This brand name stands for one of the largest independent bookmakers in the world with over 1300 retail shops in the UK alone. The number is impressive, but so is BetFred’s betting service.
Some of the most popular sports on BetFred’s list are tennis, soccer, golf, basketball, baseball, boxing, cricket, hockey, volleyball and handball. Those of you who enjoy less commonly-spread sports can place bets on darts, Gaelic football or snooker. Horse racing is also available, which is inevitable because BetFred recently bought out the Tote. The company has obtained a license to operate pools betting on the most prestigious UK racetracks for the following seven years.
If you experience any difficulties or find yourself unable to resolve an ensuing problem, you can always reach BetFred’s courteous support team via live chat. They will help you resolve the issue in a timely manner.
BetFred is well-known for its generosity to both new and existing members. At the present moment, all punters who register with an account and place a bet of £10 or more, will receive £30 to bet with for free.