UK Gambling Commission
What is the UK Gambling Commission?
The UK Gambling Commission was created and empowered under the Gambling Act of 2005 to regulate the UK gambling industry, with a particular focus on online gaming. It is often held up as a prime example of gambling regulator best practice, and used as a benchmark for comparing regulatory bodies in other countries and states.
What Does the UK Gambling Commission Do?
- Ensure gambling in the UK is crime-free.
- Ensure gambling in the UK is fair and open.
- Ensure children and vulnerable people are protected from gambling in the UK.
What Types of Licenses Does the UK Gambling Commission Offer?
Rather than offering a single licence to operators covering all online gaming activities, the UK Gambling Commission offers remote operating licences for each type of activity that an online operator may want to run, including:
- Casino Games
- Gaming Machines
- Gaming Software
In addition to the above activity-specific licences, most significant online gaming operators will also require remote Personal Management Licences (PML) for their senior staff members. This means that anyone who is in charge of important business areas such as financial budgeting, overall strategy, regulatory compliance and IT provision and security must come under scrutiny and gain approval for a PML before being allowed to legally make any operational decisions.
History of the UK Gambling Commission
The UK Gambling Commission was set up to regulate the growing online gambling industry, replacing the previous Gaming Board for Great Britain. In 2013, the National Lottery Commission was also merged with the UK Gambling Commission. The following year, it continued to act in the British consumer’s best interests under the 2014 Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act.
As the name of this act suggests, it was designed to tighten up practices around gambling advertising targeted at UK citizens. The law now ensures that all gambling operators that provide facilities for remote gambling (or advertise to consumers in Britain) must obtain a remote operating licence from the UK Gambling Commission. This means that even operators which are based abroad must still obtain the proper licence if they wish to serve (or advertise to) customers in the UK. This covers all forms of advertising, including on television, via sponsorship or through physical installations.
Another significant change was brought about by the Point of Consumption Tax, which entered into UK legislation in December 2014. Whereas previously off-shore operators were charged tax at the 'point of supply' (i.e. based on the territory where their operations were located), they are now taxed at the 'point of consumption' (i.e. in the UK) at a flat rate of 15% on gross profits.
Can You Trust the UK Gambling Commission?
Yes, the UK Gambling Commission is considered one of the most diligent gaming authorities in the world, and has several key areas of focus, including:
- Protection of Player Funds | Ensuring that licence holders keep customer funds segregated from business/operating funds.
- Player Identification | Ensuring that licence holders put steps in place to verify the age of online players.
- Player Protection | Ensuring that licence holders are aware of (and comply with) measures for protecting players with problematic gambling behaviour.
- Fair Gambling | Ensuring that licence holders only use software (including games and proprietary OS) supplied by licensed software providers.
- Honest Marketing | Ensuring that licence holders do not offer misleading promotions or advertisements.
- Cash Handling | Ensuring that licence holders take action to prevent money laundering and only utilise safe and legal payment technology.
- Customer Service | Ensuring that licence holders have systems in place to log customer complaints and resolve issues.
Online gambling operators must comply with the rules set down by the Gambling Commission (and maintain honest and transparent communications), or else risk having their licence revoked and potentially facing investigation or prosecution.
Top Online Casinos Licensed by the UK Gambling Commission
|UK Licensed Online Casino||Bonus Offered at Online Casino||Alternative Licenses Held|
|William Hill||£/€/$10 No Deposit Bonus||Gibraltar|
|Betfair||100% up to £/€/$100||Gibraltar|
|888casino||£/€/$88 Free + 100% up to £/€/$100||Gibraltar|
|Ladbrokes||400% up to £/€/$400||Malta|
|Coral Casino||150% up to £/€/$300||Gibraltar|
|Winner Casino||£/€/$30 Free + 200% up to £/€/$300||Antigua|
|Casino British||100% up to £/€/$200||Malta|
The UK Gambling Commission currently licenses over 1000 companies for remote gaming, including operators such as 888, Betfair, William Hill and Ladbrokes. It also lists over 200 gaming development firms as having an active gambling software licence, including industry experts such as NextGen and OpenBet. Although it is broadly well-regarded as an institution, the UK Gambling Commission was chastised in 2014 for its alleged lack of action and advice it provided to the government in relation to Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (FOBT).
Some commentators had recommended stricter controls on the terminals, specifically either removing them from the high street or drastically reducing maximum stakes to bring them in line with other types of gambling machine. However, the Commission was criticised for recommending no immediate action, despite its vocal advocacy of taking "the precautionary approach" when it comes to risk.
Despite this incident, the Gambling Commission clearly prioritises player safety above all, and is currently reviewing a process whereby vulnerable players could exclude themselves from all casinos based in the UK (or holding a UK licence) at once, rather than having to self-exclude with each individual operator – this looks to be the next big legislative change on the horizon for the regulatory body.
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At Gambling.com, we want to ensure that players are matched with the right casino and sportsbook offers for them. For this reason, some of the recommended site links are affiliate links.
At Gambling.com, we want to ensure that players are matched with the right casino and sportsbook offers for them. For this reason, some of the recommended site links are affiliate links. This means that if you visit a website through our link and make a deposit, Gambling.com will receive a commission payment at no extra cost to you. All product reviews and recommendations are still impartial as our editorial standards are designed to be commercially independent and follow a professional methodology.
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