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Online Gambling Laws UK

For whatever reason, many players, whether they play at the best online casinos or land-based casinos, frequently view casinos and the casino industry with suspicion. It is a common misconception that the games are fixed and that ‘online casinos are all out to get you!’ In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

But first a DISCLAIMER…

I am NOT a lawyer. I have done my best to verify the contents of this blog post and have given sources where applicable. However, nothing in this post should be construed as legal advice, nor should this be inferred. The contents of this blog post are for educational purposes only. Ken Slots actively encourages you to do your own research, either by using the supplied sources, or your own, in order to give yourself a greater understanding of online gambling laws UK.

It is important to say right away that online gambling operators (in the main) are not corrupt. Simple mathematics should tell you that they have no need to be. They do however have to conform to a set of rules as laid down according to their jurisdiction. In this post, we will focus on the UK.

Online gambling laws UK are too diverse and complicated to fully explain in a single blog post. Gambling laws in the UK are covered by an act of Parliament and as such are comprehensive. We have enclosed a link to those laws elsewhere in this post for those that care to learn more.

There are however some key points of UK gambling law that are relevant to anyone who plays casino games online. It will benefit you to know these laws and understand the rationale behind them.

Online casinos and the law – who regulates the casino industry?

The online gambling industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world. In the UK alone it is worth around £14.5 billion per year and employs more than 106,000 people. This makes it one of the biggest financial industries anywhere in the world. No government is going to allow it to just ‘run free’. The best online casinos and all land-based casino operators are licensed. Licensees are controlled by a government-appointed control commission or authority. The main ones are listed below…

International Gambling Authority Logos

Click on the logo to be taken to that authority's website.
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curacao eGaming licenseuk gambling commissionswedish gambling authorityisle of man gambling supervision commission
malta gambling authoritygibraltar gambling commissionalderney gambling control commissiondanish gambling authority

Online gambling laws UK

In the UK the sole arbiters of gambling legislation and the issuing of licenses are the UK Gambling Commission. Gambling law in the UK is very complex, all-encompassing, and totally designed to protect the consumer from fraudulent operators.

online gambling laws uk
UK Gambling Commission

The Gambling Commission was set up by the UK Government to regulate the UK gambling industry, particularly as regards arcades, betting, bingo, casinos, slot machines, and lotteries. The aims of the UK Gambling Commission are to keep crime out of gambling, and to protect the vulnerable.

Gambling operators either based in the UK or remote who wish to supply any form of gambling services to the UK are governed by the UK Gambling Act 2005. As a condition of their license, a casino is required to adhere to the License Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP). Essentially there 4 basic license conditions applicable to the granting of any gambling license. All of these should be complied with, no matter the type of license.

Licensing Conditions

  • General Licence Conditions which may be applied by the UK Gambling Commission to any individual operating licence or a class of operating licence (for example betting operator licences). 
  • Individual Licence Conditions applied by the UK Gambling Commission to any individual operating licence. 
  • Conditions Imposed by the Secretary of State may be applied to any class of operating licence. 
  • Statutory Conditions as laid down in the Gambling Act 2005 and may be applied to any class of operating licence.

Codes of Practice

  • Social Responsibility Code Provisions which must be adhered to by all licence holders.
  • Ordinary Code Provisions which do not have the status of licence conditions but, failure to take account of them could be used as evidence in criminal or civil proceedings in the UK.  

Failure by any casino operator to comply with any or all of the online gambling laws UK could lead to the imposition of severe financial penalties or revocation of their UK Gambling License.

UK gambling license – a guarantee of quality

In the UK it does not matter where in the world an operator (casino) is based they will require a remote gambling license issued by the UK Gambling Commission if…

  • The operator provides facilities for online gambling to consumers in Great Britain.
  • They retain premises that house any part of their remote gambling equipment in Great Britain. 

Basically by providing any type of gambling service to the UK public a UK gambling license is required. The UK is one of the most stringent and thorough jurisdictions in the world when it comes to handing out a UK gambling license. Because of this, a gambling license issued in the UK is recognised throughout the world as a sign of quality, trust, and fairness.

Obtaining a gambling license

In order to obtain a UK gambling license (remote operators), an application must be made with the UK Gambling Commission. The fee for such an application starts at £2,640 but may be as high as £57,304. Once this has been granted there are annual fees to take into account. These fees begin at £2,709 and can rise to as much as £512,083 and are graduated according to the casino’s Gross Gambling Revenue (GGR).

[Source: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/for-gambling-businesses/Do-I-need-a-licence/Operating-licences/Remote-casino-operating-licence.aspx]

Before an operator even gets that far though it has to undergo pretty extensive due diligence. This will include proof of the source of funds from any of the signatories or key stakeholders. Knowing how the business is funded in the initial stages is an important factor in obtaining a UK gambling license. There are other factors too of course…

The factors that will be considered will include ensuring:

  • Necessary equipment should be located in recognised gambling jurisdictions.
  • UK Gambling Commission officers have access to any and all company data on demand.
  • The operator (casino) must satisfy UKGC that all data and records are accurate and complete.

The process of obtaining a UK Gambling License is incredibly thorough and may take several months to complete.

Operating without a UK gambling license

There are of course casino operators around the world that do accept players from the UK despite not possessing a UK Gambling License. These operators could be based anywhere in the world and are usually operating under an eGaming license issued by the Curacao Gaming Control Board.

An eGaming license issued in Curacao is an accepted international license as far as remote casino operators are concerned. However, these Curacao casinos may not deliberately target players in the UK. As a general rule if you attempt to register with a non-UK licensed online casino from within the UK you will be blocked from doing so. It is, of course, possible, but not recommended, to use the services of a VPN such as CyberGhost or Nord VPN to circumvent this if you were of a mind to.

Online casinos have to undergo due diligence​

In order to gain an operator’s license, the licensee must pass a due diligence test. This is designed to ensure that they are fit and proper people to run an online casino operation. As well as the casino itself, senior executives, or those in key roles within the organisation are also required by law to hold a license. Best online casinos and other gambling operations, including lottery operators, are regularly audited by the control commission, whose license they operate under, to ensure that they stay within the law.

We are very much aware that the legal requirements the best online casinos impose can sometimes make the overall experience somewhat less enjoyable. Don’t be put off. Much the same as the rest of us, online casinos have to abide by the law. Remember, it is very much in your interest that they do so.

If you are just beginning your online casino journey, then that extra 5 minutes spent fulfilling the legal bits required by the casino will ensure you have a safer more enjoyable experience. To learn more, take a look at the list of required documents you could be asked for when registering a new account at any of our online casinos.

*Online casinos can be amongst the safest and most secure environments that you will find anywhere. That said, you still need to protect yourself against fraud. Always play at an online casino licensed by one of the world’s major licensing authorities. License information can be found on the casino homepage or check Ken’s casino reviews for details.

Online casinos and social responsibility 

All European casinos (UK licensed casinos in particular) have strict rules surrounding social responsibility and are expected to sign up for various social initiatives. In the UK one of these is Gamble Aware at begambleaware.org. You can also find a link to this organisation at the foot of every page on this website.

This is why in Ken’s casino reviews we always list the gambling license. In this way, you always know that the casino you choose is both legal and reliable. Best online casinos have to prove to the relevant gambling authority that they can maintain certain standards. This is necessary because it adds an extra level of security and trust to the relationship you the player will have with online casinos. 

Protecting your sensitive data

Those standards generally mean that they must inform you, the player, about how they protect your sensitive data. New laws in the form of the Data Protection Act 2018 are designed to protect you, the consumer (player), against having your information misused by a third party. 

In Europe, The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced to control the flow of personal information within EU states and outside the EU. It was designed to protect the privacy of both the individual and businesses that operate within the European Economic Union.

Guarding Against Crime

When choosing the best online casinos it is also of benefit to know that they are taking every precaution to safeguard against money laundering. In order to make it difficult for criminal enterprises to move money around the world, strict measures have been implemented by gambling commissions to make this more difficult, if not impossible to do. 

Preventing Illegal Movement of Funds

One of the main reasons that rules and regulations surrounding gambling operators are so strict, is entirely due to anti-money laundering. Directive (EU) 2015/849 passed by the EU commission is designed to prevent the use of financial systems (including gambling operations) for money laundering or the financing of terrorism.

What does this all mean? That the best online casinos are cleaner than *Barry Scott’s bathroom bro’! Of course, due to the restrictions that the best online casinos and lottery operators have to work under, it does mean that casino patrons are also going to be inconvenienced. 

EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive 2015/849

One of the main reasons that rules and regulations surrounding gambling operators are so strict, is entirely due to anti-money laundering. Directive (EU) 2015/849 passed by the EU commission is designed to prevent the use of financial systems (including gambling operations) for money laundering or the financing of terrorism.

What does this all mean? Well, essentially it means that the best online casinos are cleaner than Barry Scott’s bathroom! Of course, due to the restrictions that online casinos and lottery operators have to work under, it does mean that casino patrons are also going to be inconvenienced. 

No matter where you choose to play your games of chance, you too will have to fulfil some basic requirements. The best online casinos are required by law to make every effort to establish your age and identity and that you are a permanent resident. Unfortunately, they do this by asking you for several forms of identification that you will need to produce. There is no getting around this, if you wish to play at the best online casinos you will need to provide the following forms of ID…

  • Valid photo I.D. (driving licence, passport or government-issued I.D. card)
  • Proof of address (bank statement, tenancy agreement, utility bill etc)
  • A copy of the front and back of all payment cards (suitably redacted) registered to your account. 
  • Proof of ownership of Your e-wallet (Neteller, Skrill, Paypal) accounts if used.
  • Proof of ownership of the mobile phone if using a mobile-only payment

if you play in a land-based casino, unless you trigger certain indicators, such as buying in for a large amount of money, but are clearly over 21, you may not need to produce ID. However, once you reach a certain threshold (this may vary by the casino) then you too will need to prove who you are.

Protecting minors from harm

Young people are attracted to anything bright and shiny. Nothing is brighter or shinier than the best online casinos and online slot games. Most land-based casinos in the UK operate a ‘Challenge 25” policy, whereby they ask for ID if they feel that you may be under the age of 25. This is despite it being legal to gamble in a UK casino at age 18. 

Online casinos take a similar approach. They will require proof of age and ID from anyone wishing to play at their site. This is a legal requirement and a condition of their online gaming license.

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