UKGC: All Gamblers Need to Know

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The United Kingdom Gambling Commission regulates all gambling concerns in the Kingdom. For this reason, we mention it often in our reviews and guides. This is the place where we go into details about the Commission, its responsibilities, its directives, and its history. All you need to know is here, on this page, crafted by casino specialists.

Page summary

The basics of the UKGC

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission is part of the Government of the United Kingdom. It has the executive power of decision as a public body and its main concern is regulating and supervising classic, remote, and charity gambling activities.

What are the activities that fall under its governance? See the list below:

  • Brick-and-mortar casinos;
  • Lotteries;
  • Arcades;
  • Betting shops;
  • Bingo events;
  • Remote casino play;
  • Remote lotteries and bingo;
  • Slot machines.

The aims of the Commission

As they state themselves, the main two goals they have are keeping UK gambling spotless from criminal activity and protecting the vulnerable clients and gamblers. In case they observe a lead on illegal gambling, they can collaborate with law enforcement in the hopes of solving the issue.

Interesting fact: It was only in 2013 that the UKGC got to be responsible for the National Lottery, even though they exist in a form or another since 2005.

Particular aims in detail

Keeping gambling crime-free

Gambling has to be conducted in fair and open ways, in order to protect vulnerable citizens, especially children, according to The Gambling Act of 2005 (the current legislation). There are standard procedures that aim to fight illegalities and discrepancies displayed by casinos and local lotteries.

Can you solve such things by yourself?

There are different ways of solving a dispute by yourself, between you as a punter and online casinos. Usually, these are handled by independent authorities called Alternate Dispute Resolutions (ADR). For a detailed guide on these matters, please consider learning our advice from our solving disputes guide.

Giving away licenses

All types of gambling and gaming operators in the UK, whether they have a brick-and-mortar spot or they are a remote, offshore business, that has a section of their site just for Brits, are given their operating licence from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission.

They are allowed to suspend or completely retract the permit of functioning on the basis of the regulations that are in place right now. Under the same perspective, they are requested by local governments to advise on gambling-related events.

Regulating remote casinos

Suppose a gambling or betting business wants to promote themselves in the following territories. In that case, they need the seal of approval from the UKGC:

  • England;
  • Wales;
  • Scotland.

Each business has to complete a long process for accomplishing this goal. It starts with applying on the UKGC’s site, submitting the necessary proofs, and keeping up the regulations at a high standard. The Commission performs random checks on licensed sites. This is true for locally based or foreign-based corporations.

Interesting fact: Other international markets base their regulations by other authorities, but none of them are as strict as the UK one. Notable names are Malta Gaming Association and the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association.

Constant monitoring for operators

After a licence is granted, the Commission is allowed, encouraged, and known for coming back and checking several casinos’ activity sectors to see if they still follow the standards defined in the law. Most checks are obviously concerned with financial dealings.

What are the consequences of further examinations?

The Commission can issue suggestions for each business individually, to make amends and improvements on the way they conduct their affairs. This is part of the soft consequences. On the more rigid flipside, other conditions can be imposed on top of the original ones, mainly to avoid mismanagement.

What happens when the rules are breached?

Even licensed casinos have to follow the code of practice, otherwise it can be suspended or revoked. The main solutions are represented by taking actions like:

  • Getting fined;
  • Levying a license;
  • Suspending the website from operating.
  • Revoking the licence.

How are these things checked?

Inside the UKGC there is a special section called the Intelligence Department that observes operators’ illegal activities. Their reports are sent over to the senior management, which decides further action according to the regulations in force.

So, there are basically two steps:

  1. The preliminary reports of the Intelligence Department;
  2. The final decisions of the senior management, upon the results of steps 1, which are enforced.

Interesting fact: All the companies that have been fined or otherwise sanctioned by the Commission are listed on its official website.

Keeping a satisfactory level of transparency

There is information contained by gambling businesses that needs to be transferred on the regular to the UKGC. Mainly, their money entries and cashouts, and the way they are handled via banking procedures are the vital ones that can’t be avoided.

On the customer side of business, casinos need to inform their users on the nature of their promotions (including rules and abusive behaviour) and the privacy policy.

Please note!

Even though gambling is thoroughly regulated, businesses in the industry also have to follow UK residents’ general customer rights. Satisfactory customer support easily powers the main solutions. The main ways to contact a casino are:

  • Writing an email to their support team;
  • Talking to an agent directly via live chat (an internal messenger app);
  • Talking via their help phoneline.

Funding charities

At the beginning of 2020, the UK Gambling Commission has declared that operating businesses are obliged to send money regularly to charities. It would be ideal for a casino business to fund charities that are related to the domain: educating the population on gambling, prevention of gambling risks, protection of underage children, solutions for gambling addiction.

A case to consider: The Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust is a London-based charity, with operations all over the Kingdom, that works towards education, empowerment, and protection of minors from the mirage of gambling and big wins. Their successful programs in the areas of awareness of gambling-related risk and possible harms, pushed the UK giant Microgaming to donate to them to complete the requirements of the UKGC.

Funding charities

Practical results of the UKGC

This section will show our readers some of the most notable moves of the UKGC, which we have witnessed in our almost 6 years of experience in the UK gambling industry. With such examples, we hope you understand the role of the Commission more clearly.

  • Fining lotteries for fraudulent activities. There have been cases of big lottery corporation where an employee conspired with a customer to get a ticket that ended containing the winning numbers. Of course, this instance is a breach of the terms of licence regarding fair play and equal opportunities. The police corroborated the Commission’s reports, and the situation ended with a fine of £3,000,000.

Interesting fact: The counterfeit ticket was qualified as a “jackpot” entry, and the result was a cash prize £2,500,000. Of course, after the investigation, it was not paid in full to the phoney winner.

  • Fining casino for not enforcing anti-money laundering rules. Each online casino is obliged to set up strict and dense rules against money-laundering. These might be familiar to you, KYC (Know Your Customer), showing the source of the funds you wager, getting cashouts under a certain schedule with a cap per transaction.
  • Fines for misleading marketing attitudes. Each promotion hosted by a casino has to be attached to a set of rules, clearly posted, and explained satisfactorily. Hence, the user knows what he/she is getting themselves into. This transparency level needs to be maintained in any type of advertising: newsletters via email or SMS, banners on other sites, TV ads, etc.
  • Fines for not protecting customers (self-exclusions, disallowing problem gamblers). There is a social responsibility held by casinos which is not to be ignored. Thus, no matter if they are or are not qualified in a risk category, any punter has to have the right to self-exclude. Also, problem gamblers should be disallowed to enter a new casino, after they ditched another, for their own protection.

The role of local authorities in such issues

Local authorities follow the specifics of the Gambling Statement of Principles from the Gambling Policies (part of the Gambling Act). They have to have their own, localised approach, depending on the demand and usage of slot machines and gambling/betting terminals.

The best combination of forces should contain the direct “on the street” observations and the general regulations of the UKGC.

Odds cases of the past

There have been 2 cases in the past where two major casino companies became insolvent. As expected, insolvency is a serious state, that does not appear suddenly. This is why, in time, the UKGC has given even more attention to the financial dealings of casinos, prior to them highlighting money problems.

Interesting fact: The UKGC wants to base its new methods and directives upon legit user experience. That is why they, periodically, ask citizens for their opinion on several issues via questionnaires and other e-forms.

A small historical itinerary

In the table that follows, we comprise the biggest steps since 2005. We will update this mini-section in the future with any relevant data, as we constantly keep an eye on the Commission’s updates, press releases, and related topics.

2005The Gambling Act was officially published and set up the powers of the Commission.     
2007The Commission started to work, taking over the acts of the Gaming Board.
2013The National Lottery was integrated into the responsibilities of the UKGC.
2020The Commission published detailed reports about three gambling operators.

In 2014 however, another important bill saw the light of day in the British Parliament. It was called the Gambling Licensing and Advertising Bill, and it added contexts and extra definitions for UK gambling, in-person or remote. In the following table, we give you some parallels in points of interest, for a clearer perspective.

                      2005                                  2014
Licences are required only for brick-and-mortar casinos or similar establishments.All gambling businesses, offline and online, need a license from the UKGC, under the same principles.
Ads can be run in the UK, even if the establishment had a licence from Gibraltar, Alderney, or the Isle of Man.Ads can only be run from UKGC approved businesses; otherwise, TV ads and sponsorships, and physical ads are prohibited.
Online sites accepted in the UK could have a licence from any international authority.Online sites need to be checked by the Commission, and they need to have a stable or a transitional seal.
Taxes are applied by the territories that are licence-providing, by the legal statements of those respective territories.Gambling businesses that operated within the Kingdom territories have to pay a 15% tax on their gross profits.

Interesting fact: At the beginning of the past decade, the UK began to be a strong name in the international gambling scene, amounting to £2 billion in total over one year. Nowadays, the trends are steady in the billions.

Does taxation affect the big operators?

In short, no. Big companies amount to gross profits in the range of hundreds of millions. They would much rather follow the regulations and apply their 15% levy then lose grips on one of the Western world’s largest markets. On top of that, some of the bigger names are local brands, operating since the 20th century, William Hill and Paddy Power, for instance.

Does taxation affect the big operators

What happens if you want to access a site that does not allow UK players?

There are two options in this scenario. You either will not be able to access the site at all and instead of the site’s front page you will see something like ‘Forbidden’ or ‘404 Page Not Found’. Or you will be able to see the site’s pages, but you won’t be able to access the sign-up page.

Dispelling rumours of unfair odds

We have observed some articles and opinion editorials that have criticised the current taxing scheme. The reason is that it might prompt smaller casinos or book-making enterprises to offer disadvantageous odds for their players. Although the risk is viable in theory, in practice, we have not seen a shift in these areas since 2014. Casinos adapt to the trends rapidly, without putting you as a punter in major disadvantage.

Explaining corporate governance

The Commission has a responsibility of transparency towards the residents of the UK. To fulfil this, they publish their directives annually, as well as the people in the leading boards and committees. The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, a body that responds and controls the UKGC, appoints the leading posts within the Gambling Commission.

If you visit the UKGC’s site, you can see the current in-seat commissionaires and The Chair, and the latest business plans. What do these contain normally?

  • Goals that need to be fulfilled/maintained;
  • Financial data;
  • Strategies applied.

What the UKGC licence guarantees

Even though we state these ideas constantly through our reviews, there are major advantages to a casino that has been tested regularly and approved by the UKGC. This section is going to reiterate the main pluses you get, for your convenience.

Thus, a UKGC licence brings forth extra protection in the following sub-domains:

1.     Your security as a player

The Commission’s main concern is to keep your data, finances, and mental health at a safe distance from risks and harms. This translates to anonymity and safety for your personal information, as well as your online traces.

Plus, casinos go through various checks that test their platforms’ resistance and servers against cyber-attacks and other violations from bad online actors. You are welcomed in a place that does not share your data without your consent and does not allow it to leak to anonymous hackers.

2.     Your access to fair games and tournaments

The games that you play at a UK-accepted casino are not in any means rigged in favour of online casinos. Rather, they are regularly tested to ensure that the outcome is random, and in accordance with the statistical probability related to each game, respectively.

Not only this, but each game category has an introductory text that explains to novel punters how it works and what the winning odds are. Some casinos we have reviewed make the rules available for each game they display, even if the total number amounts to thousands. This way, there should be no issue in the way you conduct your sessions.

In the cases of digital errors or any other glitches, each casino operates differently in terms of your frozen bet/session. The answer lies within the terms and conditions.

3.     The status of your player funds

The UKGC allows each casino or betting place to choose one out of three scenarios to follow in relation to player funds. All of them have common ground in that the funds the players’ deposit are held separately from the company’s funds. The highest level of protection solidly ensures that the player fund account is held at a different bank, by an independent auditor.

How does this impact you?

If a business runs smooth as usual, there is no need to stress over this aspect. But, in rare cases where a casino files for insolvency and, unfortunately, goes even further into being bankrupt, then you can recuperate your funds, both the one’s you had in your balance and your winnings. For an ample overview of casino insolvency and the best solutions punters can employ, we kindly invite you to check out our guide.

What investments does the Commission make?

By their statements, we know that the UKGC is committed to the safety of players. Besides the tasks they carry that we have already mentioned, they also invest in quite a large number of plans and strategies. We resume them in the list here:

  • Crafting and constantly updating a code of practice that puts the gambler at the centre of the casino’s activity;
  • Encouraging a wide number of enterprises to educate people, especially youngsters, on gambling;
  • Prevention and sustainable treatment for gambling-related harm;
  • Raising standards for safe gambling.

Interesting fact: You can look up any gambling operator and if they have a licence or if they have ever had one from the UK, in the Public Register Research on the Gambling Commission website.

What investments does the Commission make

How to contact the United Kingdom Gambling Commission

Lastly, we leave you with the Commission’s contact information, in case you need to delve further into an investigation, topic, or complaint. Here are the handles:

  • Official website: http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/home.aspx ;
  • Physical address: Gambling Commission, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B2 4B;
  • Email address: info@gamblingcommission.gov.uk ;
  • Phone number: 0121 230 6666.

Concluding remarks

We hope that we have covered all of the topics of interest to you as a UK gambler. After reading our page, you have gained insight and knowledge that will be useful to you. You can know to pick better casinos and have safer gaming sessions, knowing the facts and how to protect yourself. Gamble safely and responsibly!

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