UK Gambling Commission
If you read any ’guide to choosing a casino’, you will see that people always recommend that you select a site that has been licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. There is a very good reason for this too. So, who are the UKGC, and what can they do to help you?
The UK Gambling Commission is Part of the Government
The UK Gambling Commission is part of the government. Although, they are not a ‘department’ of the government. This helps to reduce the influence that the ‘government of the day’ has over gambling in the country. The UK Gambling Commission was established in 2005. Prior to that, it was the Gaming Board for Great Britain which provided oversight for the gambling industry in the United Kingdom. In 2013, the UK Gambling Commission was further expanded when it absorbed the National Lottery Commission into its ranks.
What the UKGC Does
The job of the UK Gambling Commission is to oversee gambling laws in the UK. While they are not able to create laws themselves, they have a huge amount of remit to interpret the current laws. This, of course, has resulted in them making some changes over the years which people do not necessarily like, but we firmly believe that those changes were made to ‘protect’ people. Their mission statement is:
To keep crime out of gambling, to ensure that gambling is conducted fairly and openly, and to protect children and vulnerable people.
To do this, they oversee pretty much every form of gambling, except for spread betting (this comes under the remit of the Financial Conduct Body). Basically, if you do any form of betting in this country, be it online or offline, there is a good chance that the UK Gambling Commission is in control of it.
The main aim of the UKGC is to protect the gambler. Any gambling operation, large or small, which operates in the United Kingdom will be severely punished if they break the law (more on that in a while). The gambling operation needs to make sure their games are fair. They also need to work incredibly hard to prevent problem gamblers from gambling. In fact, the UKGC runs a scheme where known problem gamblers can register. These people will then be unable to gamble at any online casino.
The UKGC also helps to combat money laundering in the gambling industry (this is still a major problem), and if they do spot money laundering, they will work with the police to deal with the problem. Of course, some people do feel that the UKGC is taking somewhat of a heavy-handed approach in recent years. However, despite this, the UK still has some of the most liberal gambling rules in the world.
Dealing with Problems
If you do have a problem with your gambling provider, then the UKGC will help you out. They have a mediation scheme in place where they will work with the consumer and the gambling company to work out a solution to any issues that may arise between the two of them. They encourage the two parties to sort out differences themselves, although the UKGC reserves the right to make a judgment if they can’t manage this. You have probably seen news articles related to millions of pounds of fines that bookmakers and casinos receive. It is the UKGC who dished out these punishments.
Licensing of Online Gambling Sites
In order to offer a gambling service in the United Kingdom (even if you are based outside of the country), you need to be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. It is an incredibly expensive process to get licensed and to keep your license. This is one of the reasons why it is always recommended that you use licensed casinos. Not only are you protected, but the chances of the company doing something bad towards you (knowingly) is pretty much zero.
The UK Gambling Commission is able to withdraw a license at any time and for whatever reason, although it is rare that it does. One of the major benefits of the licensing system is that you can use the UKGC website to look up the license details of anybody registered with the department. You will then be able to see a list of any complaints or fines they have received.
This is fantastic when it comes to working out the ‘reputation’ of an online casino or bookmaker. We use this tool a lot here, especially if we're reviewing a newer casino or one we haven't tried for some time, it gives you a great oversight into the company and their operations.
The Future Aims of The UKGC
The UKGC has recently released an ‘action plan’ for the future. Little is going to change in the world of online gambling, although they are trying to shake up the way in which they mediate issues between two parties. Their main focus will be on dealing with ‘fixed-odds' betting terminals’, which are likely to be eliminated over the coming years and have already undergone a radical change regarding max betting limits.
The online gambling industry is starting to mature and online gambling licenses are firmly in place, which can only be a great thing for preserving and making this industry safe for the UK gambler. We will update this page from time to time with the latest news and advice emerging from the UK Gambling Commission. For further reading, you can check the official UK Gambling Commission website here.