The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is the main gambling regulation authority in the United Kingdom. Only online casinos regulated by the UK Gambling Commission are legal to play for British gamblers. The list of all UK licensed casino sites can be found on the Commission’s website.
Gambling Act 2005
Established in 2005, the UKGC for formed as a non-departmental public body of the UK government to regulate Gambling. It was the same commission that came up with the Gambling Act 2005, and many of the laws passed then still stand today to ensure safety, promote fairness and provide protection to minors and other vulnerable gamblers.
All casinos that are licensed by the UKGC are required to display the UKGC logo on their website. This creates a link which takes a visitor directly to the Commission’s Public Register that shows which gambling activities are allowed at a particular casino and will also show if any regulatory action has ever been initiated against them. This applies to land-based casino operations as well as online casino gambling in the UK.
Who needs a UKGC licence?
A UKGC licence is one of the most respected online casino licences in the world today. Gaining the UKGC’s approval requires the company to meet all the necessary requirements, and there is a long list of criteria that must be met. Some of these criteria are straightforward, such as needing a registered address in the UK and a clear business plan with organisational structure, audited financial accounts, detailed policies, rules as well as terms and conditions as well as details about the software being used.
Outside of the UKGC requirements are other regulations that must be satisfied, covering technical standards and security requirements which are revised frequently, meaning casinos have to update processes to maintain their licence. A breach in compliance could suspend or revoke a licence which can be catastrophic to a business.
UKGC Licence Types
Businesses in the UK gaming market need several licences from the UKGC. These are an operating licence for either offline or online gambling, personal management licence, personal functional licence.
Since 2014, all offshore companies offering online gambling services to the British market need a Remote Casino licence, irrespective of the type of games on offer. The Remote Casino (game host) licence applies to software companies.
The Gambling Commission is there to support players to gamble in a safe environment and is ready to offer advice should an issue arise. However, there is a process that needs to be followed before a complaint will be considered. The full terms of the gambling site should be checked, and if there is a breach, the operator is to be contacted directly with the complaint, and the company’s investigation into the matter should begin.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
If a transaction complaint is not dealt with to your satisfaction by the casino, the complaint can be forwarded to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider. All UKGC licensees have to appoint an ADR that is independent of the business and approved by the UKGC, that will look at the complaint again. There is no cost to using an ADR service, which will aim to make a decision within 90 days. If the ADR does not find in your favour, you could take your complaint to court, but it would be wise to take independent legal advice on the matter.
The only time the UKGC would be involved is if there is a complaint against the ADR with regards to how they are dealing with your complaint or if your complaint relates to the way a gambling business is being run.
Marketing and advertising
Regulation of marketing and advertising in the gambling industry is not the sole responsibility of the UKGC, but is shared with some partner agencies including the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which takes action against misleading, harmful or offensive advertisements; Ofcom that sets, reviews and revises standards for TV and radio adverts related to gambling; the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) which promotes openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals, and the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) that regulates the content, goods and services charged to a phone bill.