The United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission (UKGC) is a public body in the UK that oversees all forms of land-based and online gambling. The commission is known around the world for being one of the most proactive and trustworthy regulators, and they’ve built a solid reputation by ensuring all operators in the UK adhere to strict license conditions.
While the UKGC has been said, by some, to take too heavy-a-hand approach when it comes to dealing with certain matters, the commission clearly takes a player-first approach.
In this post, we’re going to look at who the UKGC are, what conditions they impose upon licensees, and what the details of their complaints procedure look like.
About The UK Gambling Commission
The UKGC was established under the Gambling Act 2005, and by 2007, it had assumed full powers over regulating gambling within the UK. Previously, regulation was enforced by the Gaming Board for Great Britain. The Gambling Commission is a non-departmental public body, and is directly sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The Gambling Commission currently employs some 280 employees, and they have a few core objectives, including:
- Keeping crime out of gambling
- To make sure that all forms of gambling are conducted fairly and openly
- Protecting young people and vulnerable people
Any operator who wishes to offer services to UK-based players, or who bases their services within the UK must hold a license from the UKGC, and the commission are notoriously strict when it comes to issuing licenses.
The Gambling Commission has shown – time and time again – it is unafraid of taking action against operators who they deem to be breaking the terms of their licenses. For example, the Commission fined popular British bookmaker William Hill £6.2 million in 2018 for ‘not protecting players’, after an investigation revealed flaws in the bookmaker’s anti-money laundering technology.
LeoVegas were hit with a £600,000 financial penalty in May 2018, after the Commission found that they had issued a number of misleading marketing adverts – while also allowing players who had self-excluded themselves to play at their casino.
More recently, the Commission has clamped down heavily on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), after campaigners successfully convinced the government to look at reducing their stakes in British betting shops.
The United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission offer a few types of different licenses. Generally, online casinos will require a ‘Remote Casino’ license, which allows them to offer services to players based within the UK.
Operators who receive a license from the UKGC have a number of responsibilities, split into different categories.
All licensed operators are required to conduct their marketing and advertising in a way that doesn’t target underage or vulnerable persons. Similarly, operators must regularly carry out risk assessments for players, and the prevention of underage gambling is another high priority.
All operators must offer a number of responsible gambling tools to players, including Deposit Limits, Time-Outs, and Self-Exclusion. More recently, the UKGC has begun requiring operators to join GAMSTOP – a national self-exclusion database that allows a player to exclude from all online gambling sites licensed within the UK.
Keeping money-laundering out of gambling is a key focus for the UKGC, and they require all operators to adhere to strict anti-money laundering checks. Players may be requested to complete a Source of Wealth (SOW) to ensure that the funds they’re playing with have been acquired legitimately.
Any casino game offered to UK players must undergo 3rd-party testing to ensure its fairness, and that its random number generator (RNG) is running randomly. The UKGC has approved testing houses, and games must be audited by one of these houses. Similarly, there are a number of other technical standards operators must adhere to, including having robust risk management plans in place, and strong security.
Operators are also required to offer players a level of protection on their funds. This can be basic, medium, or strong – and they help to ensure that player funds are protected in the event of an operator going into insolvency.
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How To Check If a UKGC License is Valid
All operators who have been granted a license from the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission must display their license number, and registered trading name and address on their website. The license number must link directly to the operator’s license page, on the official UKGC website.
The Gambling COmmission also maintains an up-to-date register of all license holders – and this includes licenses that are both active, and inactive. You can view the UKGC licensee list here.
UKGC Complaints Procedure
The UKGC does not take player complaints directly. However, all operators who hold a license from the Gambling Commission are required to work with a Commission-approved Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (ADR).
If you have a problem with an online casino, and feel as though you’ve been treated unfairly, you first need to make a complaint with the operator in question. The operator will then investigate your complaint, and under their license conditions, they must complete their investigation with 8 weeks. If it takes longer than this, they must provide you details of why it’s taking longer.
If you’re unhappy with the decision made by the operator, then you have the right to take your complaint to one of the Gambling Commission’s approved ADR services. These are completely free to use, and are independent from both the Commission and the gambling operators. They will conduct a thorough investigation into your complaint, and their decision is binding on the operator.
If, after this, you’re still not happy, you can make a complaint to the Gambling Commission directly – but they do not deal directly with player complaints, so it’s unlikely you will receive a response.
United Kingdom Gambling Commission Contact Details
Address: Gambling Commission, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham B2 4BP
Phone: 0121 230 6666