When you're deciding which online casino to sign up with, checking if and where they're licensed may not be high on your list of priorities. Don’t be deceived by flashing lights and empty promises, though: it's sensible to seek assurances that your money's in safe hands before you bet.
A majority of the best online casinos are typically licensed in the UK along with one other familiar jurisdiction like Isle of Man or Alderney. As the international legal landscape shifts in terms of gambling, so to the entire licencing process. To ensure you find the best and most safe casinos on the a market, check out this breakdown of FAQs about the little known world of online casino licensing.
What is a Casino Licence?
In the UK, gambling sites are regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. In order to operate, they must apply for a licence. According to the Gambling Act 2005, the purpose of the licensing system is to:
prevent any connection between gambling and criminal activity
ensure games are fair and transparent
prevent children and vulnerable people from being exploited.
In order to obtain a licence, a gambling company must meet the suitability criteria outlined by the UK Gambling Commission, including:
confirmation of the identity of the person/company applying for the licence, to ensure accountability
proof that the person/company has sufficient finances to run the business, so it won't collapse after a series of big winning punters
evidence that the person or company is honest and trustworthy
qualifications and experience proving the person or company is capable of running a gambling business
The Gambling Act 2005 officially gives power to the UK Gambling Commission to license and regulate gambling businesses. There are some legal exceptions, allowing operators from the European Economic Area (EEA) and others countries on a "white list" to operate in the UK, under the regulatory framework of the UK Gambling Commission. These "remote operators" include:
Antigua and Barbuda
Isle of Man
The introduction of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 further stated that such territories must base an element of their equipment or facilities in Great Britain to retain their remote licence.
Does it Matter if my Online Casino is Licensed Overseas?
Possibly, as all operators based in white listed territories and EEA countries will now need to make provisions for the new legislation. In practice, however, transitional arrangements mean most providers will comfortably meet the requirements of the Gambling Act 2014.
How Can I Tell Where a Casino is Licensed?
Most online casinos display their credentials in their footer. Scroll to the bottom of any page and you should see a stamp, a crest or a name, indicating where the website is registered. The UK Gambling Commission also has a search page, where you can find any licensed company (or those in the process of applying), and where they're based.
What Other Certifications Exist?
There are a number of independent assessments and industry bodies that encourage online gaming sites to sign up and commit to various standards. Independent games tester bodies like eCOGRA calculate payout percentages on offered games and produce reports for sites.
The European Sports Security Association (ESSA) monitors betting patterns for suspicious behaviour while local betting associations and voluntary regulatory bodies of various territories, like Gibraltar's GBGA, champion best practice among their members.
Gambling Addiction Support Groups like GamCare support people with a gambling problem. For a safe environment where your winnings are secure, stick with online casinos licensed with one of these credible authorities.
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