United Kingdom Gambling Commission

Player protection in the gambling industry is essential, even as governments worldwide promote safe gaming. The gambling business grows daily as more gambling operators join. Hence, the UK Gambling Commission stepped up as a regulatory body, issuing gambling operating licenses to new gambling companies.

While the UK Gambling Commission is based in England, its reach and enforcement actions extend to South Africa and other countries. It is one of the popular government bodies we look to when finding new casinos and bookmakers. The Gambling Commission also regulates remote gambling, allowing operators outside Great Britain to remain credible.

Gaming machines mean nothing for real-money gameplay until we see the license backing their parent gambling company. The same thing applies to betting shops and lotteries for those who want extra credibility before betting real money. With that in mind, we’ll review the Gambling Commission and why it is a prominent licensing body for online gambling.

By Adiela de Bruyn - Updated 2024/02/08 - Estimated reading time: 8 minutes.

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United Kingdom Gambling Commission
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The Gambling Commission Brief Overview

Businesses can provide gambling services in a country. However, the government owes it to its citizens to take an enforcement action that protects gamblers. The many problems gamblers face include gambling addiction, loss of money, debt, money laundering, etc.

It is not news that vulnerable people exist in Great Britain, South Africa, and beyond. As with many businesses, some gambling companies might exploit them, especially where there is little law to protect them.

The United Kingdom Gambling Act 2005 gave birth to the Gambling Commission. It took the reins from the Gaming Board of Great Britain. Hence, it became the country’s regulator of arcades, bingo hall games, casinos, slot machines, lotteries, and betting, excluding spread betting.

Any operator in the United Kingdom's gambling industry must abide by the Gambling Act. This law is the sole regulation powering the gambling commission and controlling all gambling businesses. The gambling commission covers England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.

Players in South Africa can enjoy the remote gambling license the gambling commission provides. The Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 legalized gambling in the United Kingdom. UK customers can enjoy the protection of the gambling commission in a physical betting shop.

The primary aims of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission are as follows:

  • To keep crime out of the country’s gambling industry
  • Ensure fair and open gaming, including regulating remote gambling equipment
  • Protect children and young persons

Besides issuing licenses to operators, the gambling commission can partner with the police on any illegal gambling business. While we can’t say that sites with the UK Gambling Commission are 100% safe, regulated gambling companies are the ideal place to search.

Gambling advertising

Like regular businesses, most operators turn to advertising to attract players and stand out in the gambling industry. The Gambling Commission still regulates advertising to protect children and other vulnerable customers. Hence, it is known to apply advertising restrictions to gambling companies in the United Kingdom.

Operators outside the UK must obtain a license to advertise to customers in the UK. The permit covers television and physical installations.

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How the UK Gambling Commission Regulates

The Gambling Act is the sole British regulation that empowers the UKGC to do the following:

  • Provide licensing for gambling businesses
  • License senior staff of the gambling business (Personal Management Licenses)
  • Set rules for the licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP)
  • Implement enforcement action if a gambling business or operator violates the licensing conditions
  • Raise standards in the Great Britain Gambling Business
  • Advice and guidance to customers and the public
  • Provide leading gambling-related research and statistics

Local authorities in the UK can also regulate the gambling industry in their regions. They can license a new gambling business through the forms received from the UKGC. This close relationship ensures a regulated gambling business for customers in Great Britain.

The National Lottery Commission Merger

In a bid to reduce government spending, the Gambling Commission and the National Lottery Commission merged in 2012. Before this historic event, the Lottery Commission regulated and licensed the National Lottery.

While the government reduced the number and cost of public bodies, it made no changes to the law on both ends. The National Lottery continued with its previous regulation, as the Gambling Commission did. Situating the two bodies in the same location was projected to save over 1 million euros.

The then Minister for Sport and Tourism reiterated that the merger would preserve the effective regulation of the national lottery and gambling. This reassurance from the Minister for Sport and Tourism was a vital boost to customers on both ends.

Money Laundering

With the Gambling Act review ongoing, the regulator’s stance on money laundering remains stiff. Any gambling business caught violating it will be fined. To keep up its dedication to stopping crime in Great Britain, the commission fined seven businesses in 2022 for violations.

Any gambling operator hoping to operate under the commission must have a strong anti-money laundering framework. Of course, the operator can always seek the commission’s guidance. Breaching any law will inevitably lead to fines as the commission enforces the rules.

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Problem Gambling

Online gambling is more accessible. However, it has a greater tendency to create problem gamblers than betting shops. The latter has a large market for competitive sports, including so-called football pools and greyhound racing.

Even the National Lottery can be abused as accessibility becomes easier. Fortunately, promoting safe gambling is at the heart of the commission.

Here is how the commission reduces and helps problem gamblers, whether in the National Lottery, online sites, or betting shops:

  • Shape their efforts and enact new rules by integrating people who have experienced gambling harm.
  • Maintain toughness in compliance and enforcement. Defaulting businesses must pay associated fees.
  • Promote and ensure safer marketing and advertising.
  • UK players cannot gamble with credit cards.
  • Ensure all gambling companies register with GAMSTOP. This service is for self-exclusion and must be present on all gambling platforms.
  • Make games safer and open consultations on VIP schemes.

The commission mandates gambling platforms to make responsible gambling a social responsibility. Hence, you will always find this service at all casinos and bookmakers with the commission’s license. The Chief Executive Officer and Commissioner Andrew has been very vocal about safe gambling.

Shaping up to modern demands

Crime hasn’t slowed down as fraudsters hide behind the National Lottery and casino gaming to promote fraudulent practices. You might enjoy a few bingo rounds and struggle with withdrawals even after confirming the UKGC license.

Defaulting companies have paid fines in varying degrees, but that hasn’t slowed down fraud. Hence, the UK made calls to review the Gambling Act in 2020. The white paper was published in April 2023 with the following proposals:

  • Introduction of financial vulnerability checks
  • Introduction of limits for bets in online slots

You can review the commission’s news for January, February, April, November, December, etc. The news section is regularly updated to keep you informed.

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Recognizing South African casinos and bookmakers with the UKGC license

Online casinos in South Africa with the UKGC license have a mandatory social responsibility to responsible gaming. This translates to a better gaming experience for you and other South African players. However, you must determine the platform’s legitimacy before registering and placing bets.

Here are the steps to verify a casino’s UKGC license:

  • Find your preferred casino and note the name and license number
  • Go to the UKGC official website
  • Go to the Public Register section
  • Enter the casino’s name in the search bar
  • The name should appear in the search results with the license number and date of issuance
  • Compare the license number with the one on the casino’s web page.

Understanding the UKGC license number

The UKGC license is a unique identifier for online gaming platforms. You can tell what type of license the operator holds and compare it with the services provided on the site.

All licenses are six-digit codes. They can begin with 000 or 00, with four more digits. The first three digits specify the service the casino is licensed to operate.

Here’s what they mean:

  • 001: non-remote casino
  • 002: remote casino
  • 003: bingo
  • 004: betting
  • 005: remote betting
  • 006: gaming machine
  • 007: lotteries

Some sites will add information on the month and year they received their licenses.

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The Gambling Commission is a prominent regulatory body for gaming sites, both physical and online. It is a crucial player in South Africa as we find remote gaming platforms. You can quickly verify the license number in its public register.

Defaulting operators have paid heavy fees, proving the UKGC’s commitment to safe gaming. Nevertheless, you owe it to yourself to play responsibly. Keep your finances under check as the year rolls in, from January through February to the rest of the months.

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Frequently Asked Questions About the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC)

What is the role of the UK Gambling Commission?

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is responsible for regulating gambling in the United Kingdom, ensuring it is fair, safe, and transparent. Their role includes licensing operators, monitoring compliance, and protecting consumers.

How can I check if an online gambling site is licensed by the UKGC?

To verify if an online gambling site is licensed by the UKGC, you can visit the UKGC's official website and use their license search tool. It allows you to search for licensed operators and check their compliance status.

What consumer protections does the UKGC provide?

The UKGC provides various consumer protections, including ensuring fair play, preventing underage gambling, promoting responsible gambling, and handling player complaints. They also require operators to segregate player funds to protect them in case of insolvency.

What penalties can the UKGC impose on non-compliant operators?

The UKGC has the authority to impose various penalties on non-compliant operators, including fines, license revocation, and criminal prosecution. Penalties are determined based on the severity of the violation.

How does the UKGC promote responsible gambling?

The UKGC promotes responsible gambling through various measures, including mandatory responsible gambling tools for operators, self-exclusion programs, and public awareness campaigns. They also require operators to provide information on responsible gambling and offer support for problem gamblers.

Author: Adiela de Bruyn

Adiela de Bruyn

Adiela de Bruyn, our founder, launched this site in 2016. Since then, she's written over 100 pages filled with crucial info to enhance your gaming experience. Her goal? To provide you with the best, most reliable online casino knowledge.

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Article published 2020/03/04