Online casinos are legal in the UK and players are protected through a license from the Gambling Commission. The same goes for any online casino based overseas wanting to provide UK users; they must obtain a UK Gambling Commission license too. The current regulatory body in the UK set up the Gambling Act of 2005. A later enactment – the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act of 2014 – was explicitly written to regulate overseas remote gambling operators servicing UK players.
Current UK casino laws
The UK gambling market is a safe place. By law, all remote gaming operators offering UK players casino games must pay a 15% tax based on where the players are. That means if players living in the UK are playing casinos online, the companies will be taxed (and not the player).
UK licensing and auditing
Protection of customer funds
Online casinos under Gambling Commission licenses should be able to repay players if they get into financial problems. So, player funds should be kept in a separate pot. However, it’s not a legal obligation. Casino sites are required to clearly state in their terms and conditions what happens to customer funds. When applying for a UK license, Casino operators can choose what level of protection to give their players – basic, medium or high. Gambling is a big business in the UK, and it’s only becoming easier to bet on the go. As well as benefiting the UK government with huge annual tax revenue, this industry also provides more than 100,000 jobs.
The 2005 UK Gambling Act
The Gambling Act was passed in April 2005 and was the first UK legislation to address laws related to internet gambling. It provided a clear outline of how all gambling in the UK should be licensed, with these objectives at the core:
- Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime.
- Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way.
- Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
How does the UK Gambling Commission protect users?
Companies offering real money gambling to UK residents must hold a valid license. To get a license, a company must prove it’s fit for business, has the requisite funds and meets the requirements to be deemed a safe, trustworthy and transparently fair operation. Once a license is issued, there’s a review process in place to ensure the licensee maintains the standards necessary to deliver safe gambling. Those who abuse the terms of their license are open to regulatory action that could result in criminal prosecution.
What other ways are users protected by UK regulation?
Information is gathered by the intelligence department to prevent criminal activity in gambling. This, in turn, ensures fairness and protects those who might be exploited by the casino industry. The Commission also regulates the advertising of gambling services in the UK. For example, it was recently stated that only casino companies with UK licenses would be permitted to engage in sponsorship with big-name sports clubs or sports competitions.
Does the Gambling Commission offer any advice?
The Commission has published a guide to safe gambling for people in the UK, titled “What to look out for before gambling“. It offers some smart advice, with some of the key areas:
- Check that you’ve read the operator’s terms and conditions.
- What to do if you experience gambling problems.
- Check that you know what happens to your funds if an operator goes bust.
Blacklist casino guides and sites
Any casino guide and site that targets UK gamblers without being licensed is blacklisted, with no exception. Players who have been harmed by questionable practices have been the victims of overseas-based online casinos. These casinos are unfortunately out of the reach of UK laws, and the UK government has no way to fight against these questionable companies at the moment. However, it’s quite easy to spot scam sites. Simply consult the footer of an online casino that seems suspicious and check if the UKGC logo is displayed there. If this logo is displayed, click on it. A link will then open the UKGC site page with details of the relevant casino license. If an online casino doesn’t have this information on its homepage, it’s banned in the UK.
However, an unauthorized online casino in the UK is not necessarily a scam. Typically, any casino certified in Europe by the Malta Gaming Authority, or in Canada by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, is trusted. Indeed, these Commissions are in perfect accordance with WTO Laws, but if they don’t have a UK license, they’ll never accept British players. On the other hand, you have to watch out when an online casino isn’t hosted in a WTO member country. For example, Curacao is known to exploit illegal casino platforms that accept players from the UK.
Beware of Curacao casino sites
Foreign online casinos that comply with international laws
What doesn’t the UKGC do?
The UKGC Commission is not responsible for the following issues:
- Mediating customer complaints – Operators must have a system in place to handle complaints. If you want to make a complaint, you can use the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS).
- Legal advice – The Commission doesn’t give legal advice, but they give general information about the Gambling Act or any relevant legislation.
- Checking every gambling casino website – while it is the law that operators need to possess a license to operate in the UK, it’s up to you to check if there’s a license before you gamble.
In the UK it’s a criminal offence for an operator to commercially take bets or offer a casino betting exchange service if they don’t have a Gambling Commission license. However, we only list and review trusted online casinos on our website which are certified by UK authorities. We also explain why gambling licenses are necessary in the first place, and what they mean for players. Furthermore, we respect the latest Gambling Act 2014 in the UK, which provides some of the most stringent legislation and protection in the world. Gambling licenses don’t only protect users from unlicensed operators, but they also protect operators against competitors based abroad.