Online gambling in the UK is carefully regulated. The UK Gambling Commission has watched over this thriving industry since 2005, seeking to ensure gamblers are given a fair service in a safe and secure environment, whilst protecting the vulnerable and underage from exploitation, and ensuring criminal enterprise does not profit through nefarious activities.
If you are choosing to play at a casino from the UK you must check to see that it carries a UK license. Only operators who have been issued one of these are permitted to take bets from UK customers, or advertise their products on UK media.
How Is Online Gambling Regulated in the UK?
The business of online gambling is regulated under two Acts of Parliament: the 2005 Gambling Act and the 2014 Gambling Act (Licensing and Advertising).
2005 Gambling Act and the UK Gambling Commission
The 2005 Gambling Act in the UK was the first piece of legislation to cover the industry since the 1960 Betting and Gaming Act. It pulled together laws covering a wide range of betting activities, including lottery and of course the new trend of online gambling. The 2005 Act also established the UK Gambling Commission, the body who became responsible for regulating commercial gambling through licensing.
The responsibilities of the UK GC are clear and three-fold:
- Prevent criminal activity in the gambling sector. In particular gambling operations can be used to launder money or defraud customers through rigged or unfair games. The UK GC are also responsible for ensuring that customers do not defraud the operators through stolen payment cards or fake identities.
- Oversee a fair industry in which marketing offers and game rules are explained in a clear and transparent way.
- Prevent exploitation of potentially vulnerable gamblers or those underage. This includes failing to prevent marketing materials being sent to self-excluded players.
How Does The Gambling Commission Work?
The day to day work of the UK GC is in fulfilling these three primary areas of responsibility. Operators who hold licenses issued by the commission are carefully watched to see that they do not breach their terms. If they do, then they can find themselves issued with warnings, fines levied, or in extreme cases, have their license revoked. In recent years there have been a number of high profile cases in which operators have paid out multi million pound fines for breaching their license codes.
How Is Advertising Regulated?
The responsibility of ensuing that marketing campaigns abide by the rules is covered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). They publish guidance on how operators should promote their brands on TV, online and in print. The rules state that gambling advertisements should not appeal to under 18s, or seek to exploit vulnerable people by showing gambling as a potential way out of debt, or a guaranteed route to financial or sexual success, or a rite of passage.
The messaging associated with online promotions to existing customers is also carefully monitored by the UK Gambling Commission to ensure that it is not misleading. And more recently the UK GC have cracked down on the opaque terms and restrictions associated with free spins and big match bonuses that made walking away with real cash practically impossible.
More to follow …