Gambling in the UK
Great Britain is one of the most highly regulated markets when it comes to online gambling and gambling in general. The Gambling Act 2005 was passed with the aim to regulate commercial gambling in the UK and set the Gambling Commission whose task is to ensure that “gambling is conducted in a fair and open way” and children and other vulnerable persons are protected from related harm and exploitation.
With the passing of the Gambling Act 2014, the government has made it mandatory to obtain an operating license from the Gambling Commission in order to be able to serve and advertise to consumers in Britain. Within its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), the Gambling Commission sets specific requirements licensees should meet and then carries out assessments to make sure they comply. If evidence of non-compliance is found, they’ll address it either by asking licensees to revise non-compliant behaviour or by taking an enforcement action.
What the Commission doesn’t do is resolve consumer complaints directly, so they can’t help you get your money back. However, the UKGC licenced operators are required to have proper procedures “for handling customer complaints and arrangements for disputes to be referred to an independent third party”. The Commission may occasionally review cases to make sure the operator meets its obligations as defined by license requirements.
The fact that UK online casinos are continuously monitored and have to obey very strict rules works in your favour. There’s hardly a better insurance against poorly secured gaming sites and unfair operators. The likelihood of encountering a serious issue while playing at a UKGC licenced casino is smaller than elsewhere, and even if it does happen, there is an independent alternative dispute resolution provider (ADR) to turn to. Within the online gaming world, that’s truly the best players can hope for.
The UK government is continuously looking for other ways to protect online players. In 2018, the Commission has carried out over 160 investigations and as the result delivered a variety of sanctions against operators, charging £19.6m in penalty packages for failing to follow the rules designed to “make gambling fairer, safer and free from crime”. As of July 2019, licensees have to verify the age of the customer prior to letting them access free-to-play games and thus ensure they’re not available to children.
Based on numerous customer complaints concerning delayed payouts due to insufficient ID verification, further changes were introduced to license conditions in May 2019. Licensees are now required to promptly obtain and verify all needed information and aren’t allowed to delay payments because they request them solely at the point of withdrawal. Until now, operators have been allowed 72 hours to carry out age verification checks so one would have to wait for days before their winnings were finally released.
There’s no doubt other additions and/or amendments will be made to LCCP in the years to come and players will continue to benefit from an increasingly safe and fair online gaming environment.