UK Casino Regulation: A Guide To UK Gambling Commission, eCOGRA & More

The UK gambling industry is huge; there are thousands of gamblers, thousands of casino games, as well as hundreds of casino sites and bonuses. The UK Gambling Commission is responsible for overseeing all gambling activity and ensuring that all players within the nation are treated fairly. But how does the Commission regulate? Find out here.

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Why Do Casinos Need To Be Regulated?

There are dozens of reasons why online casinos need to be regulated, ranging from preventing underage gambling to ensuring player and casino game fairness and safety. Without organisations such as The UK Gambling Commission and eCOGRA, online gambling in the UK would be a lot riskier.

Underage Gambling

One of the biggest reasons online gambling is regulated in the UK is to prevent children under the age of 18 from gambling. Persons under the age of 18 are forbidden from participating in gambling activities under UK law including at both online and brick-and-mortar casinos. Failure to stop underage gambling could expose children to the practice and potentially trigger addictions at an early age.

Advertising

The UK Gambling Commission works hard to ensure that all online casino operators adhere to strict regulations regarding casino advertising. This stops casinos from misleading players over bonuses and promotions while ensuring that the terms and conditions are properly displayed so players can understand the bonus they’re claiming and playing with.

Safety And Fairness

Finally, online casinos in the UK are regulated to ensure your safety and fairness. The regulatory organisations ensure that your personal information is kept from third-parties and that money deposited and withdrawn is done so securely. What’s more, the organisations make sure that all games provided by the casino are fair and provide you with a high enough chance to win. After all, you wouldn’t want to play at an online casino if you’re going to be losing all the time, right?

Regulatory Bodies

There are several notable organisations that regulate online gambling in the UK. The UK Gambling Commission and eCOGRA are the most well-known and work together to ensure that all players in the UK are provided with a safe, entertaining and fun casino experience. But what do these organisations actually do?

The UK Gambling Commission

As we explained in our history of gambling in the UK, the UK Gambling Commission (Often stylised as UKGC) was established under the Gambling Act 2005 to regulate the British gambling industry. Prior to the introduction of this legislation, most forms of gambling were illegal, particularly in public spaces, and there weren’t many online casinos around until the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 which led to the launch of betting shops.

The regulator covers online gambling, land-based casinos, bingo, and since 2013, the National Lottery. The UK Gambling Commission is often said to be a prime example of a gaming regulator and has set a benchmark for regulatory authorities around the world. In recent years, however, many gamblers have expressed concern that the firm has been overregulating the gambling industry, making it harder for both players and operators.

The Licenses

Under the Gambling Act 2005, all gambling operators looking to offer services in the UK must possess a valid license issued by the UK Gambling Commission. An online casino, bingo or betting site without a license will be prohibited from offering its services to players in the United Kingdom. The Commission grants various licenses which cover casino games, bingo, lottery, and sports betting. To offer any of these services, the gambling operator will require said licenses. Most gambling websites that do not possess a license are usually blocked for UK players, but some may still be accessible. Although you can register at these websites, we suggest you avoid doing so as it’s risky and you are less protected.

In addition to gambling operators requiring valid licenses, game developers also require licenses and the Commission has credited licenses to several big-name developers including Play’n GO, Microgaming, Big Time Gaming, NetEnt, and so many more.

Obtaining A License

To obtain a license from the UK Gambling Commission, operators need to file an application with the firm. They’ll be required to explain which gambling activities they’re looking to offer and will need to provide the Commission with a series of documents including an ownership structure diagram, share certificates, trust documents, partnership agreements, customer terms and conditions, gambling software details, a business plan, and more.

Once submitted, the UK Gambling Commission will asses the application and request proof of the operator’s identity and ownership, its finances, and integrity. If the operator is successful and receives a license, they’ll be required to pay an annual fee. However, the license can be revoked at any time if the Commission believes the operator is breaching the Commission’s terms.

Dispute Resolution

In addition to monitoring all online gambling in the UK, the UK Gambling Commission also acts as a mediator between online casinos and players. The organisation’s main focus is to look after players and it does so by offering a comprehensive FAQ to help players. In addition, users who are involved in an ongoing dispute with an online casino are encouraged to approach the UK Gambling Commission. However, it’s important to remember that players should always approach the online casino first before contacting the UK Gambling Commission.

What Does It Regulate?

The UK Gambling Commission is highly regarded and looked at as one of the best gambling regulatory bodies around the world. However, many people are still confused as to what the UK Gambling Commission oversees. Take a look below to find out:

  • Protection of player funds: The UK Gambling Commission ensures that casino and betting operators protect customer funds by segregating them from the operators’ funds.
  • Player protection: Casino and betting operators are required to comply with rules to protect problem gamblers and the UK Gambling Commission ensures that all licensees have systems in place to handle customer complaints.
  • Fair gaming: Casino and betting operators are only permitted to use gaming software provided by licensed developers.
  • Honest marketing: The UK Gambling Commission ensures that all advertisements are honest and display the terms and conditions clearly so customers know exactly what they’re agreeing to and claiming.
  • Cash handling: Casino and betting operators are only permitted to use secure and legal payment methods and to implement measures to prevent money laundering.

How Does The UK Gambling Commission Regulate?

According to the UK Gambling Commission’s website, the organisation regulates the industry by carrying out frequent reviews and investigations, visiting brick-and-mortar venues, providing advice and guidance to licensees, taking action against uncompliant licensees, reviewing financial information, and imposing additional license conditions. If the UK Gambling Commission discovers that a licensee has not been compliant, the organisation will launch regulatory action which includes fines and other penalites.

Company Overview

You can contact the UK Gambling Commission via email or telephone. Their contact centre is open Monday to Friday, from 10 AM to 4 PM.

Telephone: 0121 230 6666
Email: info@gamblingcommission.gov.uk
Address: Gambling Commission, Fourth Floor, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B2 4BP

eCOGRA: What Is It?

eCOGRA

eCOGRA, also known as the eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance, is a UK-based independent regulatory body for the online gaming industry. Founded in 2003, eCOGRA works to ensure fair gaming and player protection. The organisation offers a monthly review of casino game and operator payouts as well as the random number generator (RNG) games such as roulette, blackjack and video poker to ensure that all games are working correctly and fairly. While not all casino or betting operators are audited by eCOGRA, those who are will display the eCOGRA logo at the bottom of their website, signifying that they have been reviewed successfully and are safe and fair.

If you find an online casino that isn’t regulated by eCOGRA, it doesn’t mean the casino or betting operator is unfair or unsafe as eCOGRA only acts as an additional layer of protection and fairness. Casinos unregulated by eCOGRA are still fine to play at but the online casino or betting site still must adhere to the UK Gambling Commission’s rules and regulations for you to play at.

Obtaining An eCOGRA Certification

To obtain an eCOGRA certification and display the firm’s seal on a website, the gambling operator must meet eCOGRA’s Generally Accepted Practices (eGAP). According to eCOGRA’s official website, these eGAP requirements can include providing a clear link to player protection and a responsible gambling page on an operator’s homepage, having no misleading messages and a clock available on-screen at all times. They must also offer players responsible gambling limits, ensure player protection and underage prevention, and so much more.

eCOGRA Divisions

eCOGRA is split into two different divisions; the Approved Testing Agency (ATA) and Self Regulation Services (SRS). The  ATA specialises in the certification of gaming software and systems via testing. To date, the ATA has produced over 500 reviews for various casino operators and game developers including firms such as Bet365, Ladbrokes, Microgaming, 32Red, 888 UK and NetEnt. The SRS, meanwhile, focuses on customers and works to protect vulnerable players, prevent underage gaming, and combat fraud and criminal activity. It also ensures accurate and prompt customer payments. Both divisions work hard to make eCOGRA the well-respected, independent regulator it is known as today.

Company Overview

You can contact eCOGRA by either calling them or sending an email to the address listed below.

Telephone: 020 7887 1480
Email: info@ecogra.org
Address: 2/F Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, London, W1J 6BD, United Kingdom

Gambling Charities

BeGambleAware

Be Gamble Aware

BeGambleAware is an independent charity that focuses on protecting vulnerable gamers and preventing online gambling addictions. The organisation was founded back in 2002 and works to provide users with information to make “informed decisions” about their gambling. BeGambleAware, also known as just GambleAware, funds the education, prevention and treatment services of online gambling and raises over £8 million a year from voluntary donations. Endorsed by the UK Gambling Commission, BeGambleAware offers information on self-exclusion, sources of help and support for those suffering from gambling problems as well as tips for keeping yourself safe.

Company Overview

You can contact the BeGambleAware by either calling them or filling out a form on their website. However, if you’re looking for help and support about problem gambling, you’re urged to call the National Gambling Helpline.

National Gambling Helpline: 0808 8020 133
Email: Via form
Address: GambleAware, Pennine Place, 2a Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0HF

GAMSTOP

GAMSTOP

GAMSTOP UK is an online service operated by the non-profit organisation The National online Self-Exclusion Scheme Limited. The free service allows gamers to restrict their online gambling activity if they believe they are suffering from problem gambling. Gamblers who register will need to provide personal details and select a period to self-exclude themselves from online gambling, ranging from six months up to five years. Later on, when the minimum duration period has passed, the self-exclusion remains in force until the player actively returns to GAMSTOP UK and asks for it to be removed.

The service has been used by hundreds of players throughout the UK to help them crack down on problem gambling. Most casino and betting operators will now include links to GAMSTOP UK’s self-exclusion services on their responsible gambling pages (As required by the UK Gambling Commission and eCOGRA), making it easy for users to prevent themselves from developing an addiction.

If you’re playing at gambling sites that are no registered with GAMSTOP UK, we suggest you find out whether or not the casino runs its own self-exclusion service and use that.

Company Overview

You can contact GAMSTOP UK by calling them or through their webchat service between the hours of 8 AM and midnight Monday to Sunday. In addition, you can also email them on the address below.

Telephone: 0800 138 6518
Email: helpdesk@gamstop.co.uk

International Regulatory Bodies

Since the UK Gambling Commission solely works on regulating casino and betting operators in the United Kingdom, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that there are additional regulatory bodies that oversee online gambling in other countries. Four of the most well-known organisations that regulate non-UK casino sites are the Malta Gaming Authority, Alderney Gambling Control Commission, Curacao Gambling and Gibraltar Gaming. Most of these licensing bodies we’ve just listed work with online casinos in Europe, helping to regulate them across various jurisdictions.

Malta Gaming Authority

MGA

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) was established in 2001 and is an organisation that regulates online and land-based gambling in Malta. Similarly to the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority grants licenses to casino and betting operators looking to offer their services in Malta.

The organisation currently offers four different types of licenses including a remote gaming license, a remote betting license, a license to advertise gaming in Malta and a license to host and manage remove gaming operations. The Malta Gaming Authority is known for its fairness and honesty but isn’t as well praised as the UK Gambling Commission.

Alderney Gambling Control Commission

Alderney

The Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) launched back in 2000 and is responsible for regulating Alderney’s online gambling activities. The Alderney Gambling Control License also grants licenses, but there are only two licenses compared to the Commission’s five and Malta Gaming Authority’s four licenses.

The Alderney Gambling Control Commission’s licenses include a license which covers customer interaction and the management of funds and a license which allows for online gaming transactions. Casino and betting operators can either apply for one or both licenses depending on their needs.

Curacao Gaming Control Board

Curacao

Surprisingly enough, the island of Curacao became the first nation to begin granting gambling licenses. The Curacao eGambling board was established in 1993 but it eventually merged with the Curacao Gaming Control Board in 2002. Today, the organisation offers one license which is split into two parts: the Master License allows businesses to run online gambling services and offer sub-licenses to other firms while the Sub-License only allows businesses to run online gambling services.

However, the Curacao Gaming Control Board has sparked criticism for its low entry barriers and lack of restrictions. In addition, the Curacao Gaming Control Board generally tends to avoid intervening between customers and operators and has previously failed to protect customer funds and wagers. This has led to several distraught and angry customers.

Gibraltar Regulatory Authority

GRA

Gibraltar has been granting licenses since the late 1990s, making it one of the oldest regulatory bodies in the gambling industry. However, it wasn’t until 2000 that the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority was founded, an organisation that eventually took over the licensing of gambling operators. It soon developed a reputation for being a leading regulatory body around the world.

The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority is still working hard to protect players to this day and has even challenged the UK government over rules it belies are unfair and that will negatively affect player safety as well as the country’s own economy.

Questions & Answers (FAQ)

Is it safe to play at a site with no casino regulation?

No. All online casino websites are regulated in some way but it varies. Some regulators work harder at protecting players than others. Remember, you should only play at a gambling operator licensed by the UK Gambling Commission to ensure your safety.

Why is playing at an overseas casino dangerous?

Playing at an overseas casino that is not verified by the UK Gambling Commission is dangerous as games may be rigged in the casino’s favour. What’s more, you may face trouble withdrawing winnings, be hit with unnecessary fees, encounter trouble trying to contact the casino site, and more. Playing at a site licensed by the UK Gambling Commission voids all of this.

How do I find out if a site is regulated?

To check whether a website is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission or not, all you need to do is scroll to the bottom of the page where the Commission’s logo should be clearly displayed.

What happens if a gambling site loses its license?

When a gambling operator loses its license from the UK Gambling Commission, all players in the UK will be barred from depositing and playing at the site. Users will be encouraged to withdraw all winnings when this happens and find an alternative gambling website.

How many gambling regulators are there?

There are dozens all around the world. Most jurisdictions have their own gambling regulator firms and the most well-known right now are the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, and the Curacao Gaming Control Board.

Where can I find the Gambling Commission contact details?

You can find the Gambling Commission contact details on our detailed page right here. We’ve got the Commission’s address, telephone number, and email address – just take a look here.