The Gambling Act of 2005 saw the UKGC empowered to regulate all gambling within the borders of the United Kingdom. It officially began operations in 2007, after superseding its predecessor and eventually merged with the ‘National Lottery Commission’ to ensure that all facets of gambling were held to the same ‘No-Nonsense’ codes of conduct.
The regulator exists primarily to:
- Curb Crime in Gambling in all its forms.
- Ensure fair play and openness in the UK.
- Make sure that vulnerable parties, such as children and problem gamblers, are kept safe.
No casino or gambling platform may in any way service the gamblers in the UK without a valid UKGC licence that is appropriate for the type of gaming entertainment they offer. There is no such thing as a general licence, but casino operators must rather apply for independent licences for the various forms of gambling. These include Bingo, Casino Games, Gaming Machines, Gaming Software, Lotteries and Sports Betting.
In addition to the gaming licences needed to trade in the UK, gambling operators are also required to acquire ‘Personal Management Licences’ (PML) for every individual member of their senior staff involved in making operational decisions for the casino.
Licence Application Procedures
Applying for and purchasing a gambling licence to service Britain is no easy affair. Below is a list of the requirements needed in order to apply for a licence under UKGC legislation:
- Submission of a concise business plan.
- Submission of a complete company structure, including a list of all shareholders owning more than a 3% equity in operation, as well as a list of employees paid over £200k in the last 12 months.
- Submission of the details of all the individuals for the sake of credit checks, criminal checks, etc.
- Evidence of Funds available to run the operation adequately.
- Submission of all software and other gaming mechanisms for testing to ensure that they meet the industry benchmark. Here, all of the supplier details will need to be submitted for remote casinos.
- Provision of a list of policies and procedures in place to service clients, as well as a system diagram for an end to end processes (remote gambling).
- A 3-year projection analysis with supporting assumptions and strategy.
- Currently, existing operators must provide 3 years of audited financial statements of the business.
- As of the 31st March 2020, all gambling operators, both current and prospective, are required to sign up with the GamStop self-exclusion online scheme as part of their licensing conditions. This service must be offered to all of its customers.
Like the old adage states: “There are only two sure things in this world – Death and Taxes”. Unfortunately, taxes are part and parcel of all business life. The generation of taxes by the UKGC ensures that the government can continue in the safe and efficient vein of regulation they are known for.
Most remote casinos and gambling businesses are taxed in the countries where they reside. In the UK, even remote gambling agencies must pay the UKGC taxes in order to serve their country. You would think that this would put off myriads of remote casinos and sportsbooks, but it doesn’t. The sheer market share in the UK is deemed worth the paying of taxes by most top casinos.
The consumption of tax laws for offshore casinos is currently a flat rate of 15%. However, an increase in the tariff is set to be implemented from October 2019, escalating the levy to a whopping 21%.
Benefits of the UKGC Licence for Operators
Some casinos pass up the opportunity of becoming a UKGC licence holder, as the taxes are quite high, and the processes involved demand a lot of effort. But, for those who acquire the licence, hold within their grasp a number of advantages. These include:
Status: The UKGC licence is a true mark of prestige. Most gamblers recognise this as a mark of trustworthiness and premium quality because of the severe vetting process involved in acquiring certification.
Market Share: The UKGC licence opens up a massive new gambling market for vendors. Operators have access to the largest online gambling market in the world. The annual revenue to be shared amongst the current 1,000 operators is around 4.5 billion GBP.
Strong Currency: Even with ‘Brexit’ looming, the Pound Sterling currency is still among the strongest in the world. The investment opportunity for offshore operations is tremendous.
Protection: The protection offered by the UKGC is a two-sided coin. Casinos are also given a secure fall-back to protect them from consumer abuses and mistreatment. Even VIP players go through a detailed verification process before becoming such.
Benefits of the UKGC Licence for the Public
The UK Gambling Commission is in place to give gamblers peace of mind that their interests are being looked out for. They now have a place of recourse, should they find that they cannot settle problems with vendors themselves.
The commission focuses specifically on 7 areas of protection for the public, and constantly push casinos and betting vendors to make sure that they follow suit in order to provide the best Responsible Gambling environment.
- Funds Management: Players’ money must be separated from operational money. Casinos are not allowed to use player deposits to pay overheads, etc.
- Under-Aged Gambling: The UKGC and its vendors go to great lengths to ensure that minors are not able to gamble on their platforms. Aside from interventions on the side of the vendor, parents have a responsibility to secure their devices and are liable by law to ensure that their children are safeguarded in this respect. There are now stricter age verification processes applicable at all online casinos. These processes must be followed even if free games are being enjoyed.
- Problem Gambler Protection: Vulnerable players will be protected as best as possible. Online betting operators are required to have the best controls in place to identify and protect vulnerable players.
- Marketing: The UKGC is notorious for its stance against misleading marketing. No flash and pizazz can be linked to gambling in any way. For this reason, you will notice that UKGC casino sites are not as flashy as casino sites in other jurisdictions. The commission does not tolerate ‘bait and switch’ style tactics in advertising either. A UKGC accepted advert will explain all the terms of a bonus in solid and straightforward language so that the player knows exactly what they are being offered and will never have fine print ‘catches’. To take things one step further, the UKGC placed a ban on all betting advertisements during live televised sporting events at the end of 2019.
- Money Methods: UKGC casinos all employ the most secure and efficient banking methods on their sites in order to protect your money when it is transferred to and from the platform.
- Customer Service: All UKGC casinos have streamlined methods for the public to seek recourse and log complaints. Top resolution procedures are a big part of the UKGC ethos.
- Best Platforms: Casino and vendor software is audited, which ensures that operators maintain their programs and devices to ensure trouble-free gaming, as best as they can.
Top Casino Operators regulated in the UK
There are over 1,000 registered gambling establishments of which around 270 UKGC approved casinos, so it can be very difficult to choose where you should invest your money for the best bang for your buck. Below, we have provided you with a list of top 5 casino brands that are guaranteed to carry the UKGC mark of approval.
Virgin Games: Virgin Games casino has catered to the gambling industry since 2013. Operated by Gamesys Operations Limited, they have grown to become one of the biggest and most user-friendly online casinos in the UK.
PlayOJO: Established in 2017, PlayOJO has become one of the most recognizable UK casino brands. There are no wagering requirements, no maximum win, no minimum withdrawal, and all wins are paid in cash. The lucrative site interface just uses ‘happy gaming’.
All British: In business since 2013, All British casino is conditioned for the modern casino gambler, offering top desktop and mobile content in the form of over 1000 game titles. Whether slots are the order of the day or table games are your fancy, you will be able to find these and stacks more at All British Casino.
32Red: This casino juggernaut is an award-winning casino site that offers over 500 games, the best bonuses, and the most complete customer experience. In business for several years, 32Red casino has risen to become one of the foremost UK names in mobile casino entertainment.
PlayFrank: Under the umbrella of Aspire Global Limited, PlayFrank provides a fun and colourful casino environment that offers software from Betsoft Gaming, Evolution Gaming, IGT, Microgaming, and Net Entertainment, to name a few.
The UK Gambling Commission represents the true benchmark in safe regulation and fairness. Casinos and betting vendors carrying their certification are generally amongst the top businesses in the trade, who uphold the established ethos with pride and dignity.