U.K. Gambling Commission – What Is It and Why Should You Be Interested?
The U.K. Gambling Commission or UKGC is a government body which regulates any and all types of gambling in the United Kingdom. Whether we’re talking about casino gambling, sportsbooks, lotteries or online gambling, they’re all regulated by the UKGC. In this article, we’ll explore this government agency’s history, its role in enforcing the law and the main criteria, which need to be met, to receive a licence. Additionally, we’ve prepared a list of commonly asked questions about the UKGC, with short, informative answers.
Gambling Commission History
To begin with, let’s explore how the gambling commission came to be. The Gambling Act of 1960 is one remembered in history due to its revolutionary legislation for the time. It regulated the UK gambling industry by regulating off-track betting. Some even say that it’s what turned Brits into a nation of gamblers. The Gaming Board was established with the Gaming Act of 1968, a precursor to the UK Gambling Commission. The Board handled regulations of casinos, bingo clubs and gambling machine providers. Since then, many years passed and the texts became outdated, so they required alterations. These came in the form of the Gambling Act of 2005.
On September 1st, 2007, with its powers in full effect, the UKGC took over responsibility from the Gaming Board. Furthermore, in 2013, it also became the regulator for the National Lottery in the UK. Currently, the UKGC manages all forms of gambling including arcades, bingo, betting, casinos, slot machines and lotteries. The only exception to this rule is spread betting, which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Online gambling websites, for which the UKGC is also responsible, was first regulated with the creation of the Gambling Act of 2005.
The gambling commission is a non-departmental public body, meaning it operates independently and reports directly to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. It is also funded by that respective department largely using licence fees collected from gambling operators. The UKGC employs over 250 people and is based out of Birmingham.
UKGC Regulatory Functions
The main goal of the Gambling Commission is to ensure that betting and gambling conducted in the UK are both safe and fair. This includes regulating not only the previously mentioned gambling operators, as entities that offer to gamble, but also how those companies conduct themselves on the UK market. Additionally, advertisements related to their services are also closely monitored. Every gambling operator, who wishes to engage in business in the United Kingdom, be that a local entity or foreign must first obtain a licence from the UKGC. This includes running ads and promoting their website for example. Online casinos and other gambling operators must protect underaged and vulnerable people and ensure that gambling is conducted in a fair and open manner.
To ensure all the above criteria are met, the UKGC makes sure that all online gambling sites in the UK undergo scrutinous checks and procedures. The Gambling Commission has the power to monitor how companies operate, schedule financial audits and imposes fines. If an entity isn’t performing as it should, the UKGC can recommend certain changes, so that regulations are met. Failure to do so may range from receiving a warning to having your licence revoked and paying a fine.
Considering that gambling is done with real money, it comes as no surprise that the financial aspect of gambling is monitored closely by the UKGC and is a crucial part of obtaining a licence. The Commission has determined three levels of customer protection, regarding how player funds are kept:
- Basic: Gamblers’ money is part of the company accounts and they receive no protection if the firm goes under
- Medium: Players’ funds are insured in a separate account, in the event of bankruptcy of the gambling operator
- High: The company has established a legally separate account, not linked to its finance. There, all of the money that players invest in the platform is kept, while being monitored by an independent entity or external auditor
Despite being the main body that regulates gambling, the UKGC does have its limits. For example, settling disputes between players and gaming operators are not part of its obligations. The Commission ensures beforehand that any operator that wants to obtain a licence, must adhere to the law and have procedures set up for such an event. Additionally, the UKGC doesn’t give out any legal advice, although they do provide you with general information about the Gambling Act or relevant legislation. Also, it is your responsibility and not that of the Commission to check if the operator where you want to place your bets, holds a valid UKGC licence.
If all else fails and you’re not satisfied with the result of a complaint with your operator, you can turn to the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS). They’re an independent entity that serves as an impartial judge in such events, where you’re unable to settle your claim. The IBAS’ ruling is legally binding for registered operators, up to the amount of £10,000. Above that, the operator in question may demand that the dispute be settled in court.
Having discussed the seriousness and how meticulous the screening process for UKGC licences is, we strongly urge you to always choose a certified gambling operator. Check out our list below and explore the best online gambling site reviews of UKGC-certified casinos, sports betting, poker operators and the online bingo sites for UK players.
Gambling Commission Licence Types
With the creation of the Gambling Act of 2005, 3 types of licences were categorised: Operating, Personal and Premises. Operating licences are divided into various subcategories, which you can view in detail on UKGC’s website. Put shortly, depending on the type of business you want to set up, be that a land-based or online casino, arcade, have slots available on your property, host bingo or lotteries, you’ll need to file with the Commission. Approval, even if you present all the required documents and fit the bill, may take up to 16 weeks.
Next, provided you’re a business with over 3 employees, they’ll all need to obtain personal licences. There are 2 different types– one for management functions and one for operational staff such as croupiers, cashiers, gaming supervisors and security. Certain exclusions are applicable, however, they depend on the worker’s position, seniority and responsibilities.
Finally, we have premises licences. While they’re issued by local authorities and not directly by the UKGC, you’ll still need to comply with certain limitations. Namely, if you’ve applied for a bingo facility licence, then only that gambling activity may occur in said location. Other categories include casino premises, betting premises (track and betting intermediaries), adult gaming centre and family entertainment centre. If you’re interested in learning more about the application process, visit the official UKGC website, where you can browse through the required documents, learn more about the procedures in place, the applicable fees, and apply online.
Please consider this article as informative and in no way as a guideline on how to conduct yourself with the UKGC. We suggest you hire a legal consultant who’ll be able to assist you in the matter. However, we do hope that the information we’ve provided has proven useful in grasping the main goals and obligations of the Gambling Commission. If you’re a gambler, then perhaps you now better understand the protection granted by playing at a UK Gambling Commission-licenced casino. In the end, despite all the measures taken by the Gambling Commission to ensure a safe gambling environment, it’s the players’ responsibility to do his due diligence when choosing a casino.
In this section, we’ve shortly covered the most commonly occurring questions related to the UKGC. While the list is not extensive, it should prove a good starting ground.