The roles of UKGC and Gamstop, and how it has developed

The opening-up of the US online sportsbook market has been as important for UK-based gambling firms as it has for native businesses.

(© Tomasz Zajda – stock.adobe.com)

The UK Gambling Commission was derived from the Gambling Act of 2005 and assumed its mandate thereafter in 2007. It is tasked with regulating casinos, arcades, betting, slot machines, bingo and lotteries in the United Kingdom. One key reason for the creation of the commission was the regulation of online gambling. It also works in coordination with the multi-operator facility Gamstop to promote safe practices like self-exclusion to people who would wish to limit their gambling activities.

How the commission works

No company can legally offer any gambling services in the UK without the commission’s approval. Anyone wishing to do so must first apply for a licence from UKGC. It is, however, not an easy feat but an arduous and lengthy process that involves an investigation of a firm’s background. A license is only given after a company shows good ownership structure and demonstrates ample financial ability to pay prizes that are won. UKGC also revokes licenses of companies that violate enacted regulations.

Ensuring operator accountability

UKGC ensures that all casinos behave fairly and responsibly to their players. This means that casinos are always accountable to the commission, which in turn offers a great deal of vital protection to customers who use their services. In case a player has issues with the activities of any casino operator, they are free to lodge a complaint and the commission will conduct appropriate investigations. These assigned powers show that the UKGC is very important in ensuring the utmost accountability of operators.

Enabling a fair gaming experience

Another principle role of the UKGC is to ensure casinos provide a fair gaming environment to players by giving them a realistic opportunity of winning. They do this by making sure online casinos make use of random number generators (RNGs) in producing the outcome of any game. Casinos are also required to specify the return to player (RTP) rate of all games. The RTP shows how much money placed on games statically return to players as winnings.

Guaranteeing player protection with Gamstop

The gaming act includes a nationwide self-exclusion scheme called Gamstop. Since January 2020 it is mandatory for UK licensed casinos to include the scheme, but there are still casinos operating in the UK without Gamstop implemented. This is something which is hard for UKGC to tackle, since it is not illegal to accept UK gambling customers, but it is illegal to direct your marketing towards UK players (using pounds as a currency for example).

Another very important reason to play at casinos approved by UKGC is to safeguard your data. The commission has strict policies enshrined in UK data protection legislation to guarantee that personal data of players is not misused and it is secure. Indeed, the commission isn’t just focused on the theft of data by online casinos. It also makes sure that firms are competent enough to protect players’ data from cyber attacks. A company lacking such measures is usually denied a license.

Separation of funds

When looking at an online casino’s financial structures, the UKGC considers whether the company has separate accounts for operating cash and for players’ funds. This is very critical to ensure money is not lost in case a casino goes bankrupt or out of business. Keeping players’ funds separate from the company’s operating expenses leads to peace of mind. It also provides an assurance to players that their money will not disappear without their knowledge.

Laws governing gambling in the UK

There are particular laws that govern betting promotions, advertisements, remote operators, gaming machines, and certain charges. Generally, gambling in the UK is always monitored by the UK Gambling Commission. Gambling activities have even been banned several times in the past, beginning with the Unlawful Games Act of 1541 up to the Betting/Gaming Act of the 1960s. The latter was very important because it eliminated several betting restrictions leading to the proliferation of betting centres in 1961.

Furthermore, all gambling firms must protect minors. If an underage is caught involved in any gambling activities with any establishment, the money must be returned and all winnings invalidated. That said, UKGC requires all gambling businesses to ensure proper age verification of players. Moreover, a business cannot allow any type of betting whatsoever on the National Lottery’s outcome. While the lottery is still controlled by UKGC, it is a distinct entity under the 2005 British Gaming Act.


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