The UK Gambling Commission is an executive non-departmental body in the Government of the United Kingdom whose sole purpose is the regulation of gambling and gaming in Great Britain. This regulatory body is responsible for all online casinos in the UK, casinos, betting shops, arcades, slots, lotteries and spread betting. The Commission aims to root out crime in gambling and to protect the vulnerable groups.
The UKGC also issues licenses to prospective businesses and works with the police to eliminate any suspicious gambling activity and, in doing so, provide the public with a safe gambling environment.
The First Gambling Laws in the UK
The first law that concerned gambling came about in the late medieval period in England. It was called The Unlawful Games Act of 1541, and interestingly enough, it dealt with betting games that originated from archery competitions. Archery was quite a popular sport, and betting on archers was the first illegal gambling activity in the UK.
Three centuries would pass before the Parliament started dealing with gambling in the UK once again. In 1845, following the public inspection held by government officials, it was deemed that gambling represents a menace to the society, especially in the lower classes, and therefore the Government should start sanctioning it. Britain remained under repressive gambling laws for almost 150 years. However, the tide began to change in 1960 when the UK Government started legalizing betting on same games that rely on skill. The full legalization will come forty-five years later in the form of the Gambling Act of 2005.
Is Gambling Still Illegal in the UK?
As of 2005, gambling is completely legal in the UK. Apart from legalizing gambling, the Gambling Act of 2005 laid the foundations for the formation of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission which would ensure a safe gambling environment. The Commission assumed full power in 2007 when it took over all responsibilities from the Gaming Board of Great Britain.
In 2013, the Commission acquired the responsibilities of one more agency – the National Lottery Commission. Although it receives funding from the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS), the UK Gambling Commission is a non-departmental agency, meaning that it’s fully independent when making decisions.
The Gambling Commission In-Depth
The Commission consists of 300 employees, most of them seated at the headquarters in Birmingham. They are financed both by the DCMS and various organisations which they issue licences to. The commission aims to keep crime out of gambling and ensures that gambling goes on in a regular manner while protecting children and other vulnerable groups.
Precursors to the UKGC
According to the 2005 Gambling Act, the Gaming Board for Great Britain that was established in 1968 ceased to exist. Gaming Board’s role was regulation of arcades, betting, bingo, casinos, slot machines, and lotteries, but not spread betting. All those functions and purposes were transferred to the newly created Gambling Commission with the addition of spread betting regulation and licence issuing. The bill states that the personnel shall also stay the same until their eventual dismissal.
Obtaining a Gambling License in the UK
The Commission controls the whole gambling market through a licensing system. The process of acquiring a licence can be quite long and painstaking, but all standards have to be met before a business can start providing gambling services. Any company that wants to get licensed has to adjust their business model to UKGC’s regularly updated Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP).
Covering The Basics
The Gaming Commission checks whether operators comply with the codes of practice, both in terms of social responsibility code provisions and ordinary code provisions. All gambling premises must adhere to the former because they deal with the protection of vulnerable demographics. while failing to encompass the latter will not result in not getting the licence, as a business may not adhere to ordinary code provisions and still get a licence. However, if a business does not qualify for ordinary code provisions, then this may be treated as evidence in a potential criminal investigation.
Everything Must Follow the UK Gambling Laws
As previously noted, all gambling businesses have to protect minors. If a minor is caught placing a bet or participating in gambling activity, the business involved has to return the money and invalidate all winnings. Both physical and remotely-operated businesses must verify the age of their members.
Furthermore, a business can’t under any circumstances allow any form of betting on the outcome of the National Lottery. The National Lottery, while controlled by the Commission, is still a separate entity under the British Gaming Act of 2005.
Gambling Commission UK – License Types
There are four types of licences depending on the holder and the type of gambling. A business might require an operating licence, a personal management licence, a personal functional licence, and a premises licence that is issued by a local licensing authority. Holders have to adhere to a set of general terms when it comes to gambling. A gambling establishment has to be transparent about all the rules of gambling, as well as the way they hold customers’ funds.
Gambling Commission Demands Utmost Transparency
One of the key elements of the LCCP is the protection of customer rights. A business has to have an appropriate customer support service. According to the Gambling Commission, all customer complaints are to be dealt with in the fastest and most satisfying manner possible.
Obligations Towards the State
Businesses have to be transparent in front of the state. All data has to be provided for inspection upon request and all gambling businesses need to have legal and retractable funding. The Commission also has a set of rules for establishing cash flows to fight against the financing of terrorist or criminal groups, but also to avoid money laundering.
What Can the UKGC Do?
The Commission has quite a wide range of sanctions at its disposal. If a business is not complying, it will receive a warning. The Commission may also suspend or revoke a licence following a financial penalty. When it comes to regular licence procedures, the Commission may request additional licence conditions and use them as evidence.
The UKGC enforces its decisions by cooperating with the police, HMRC, a local licensing authority, and the governing sports body. From 2016 until now, it has revoked six licences and issued fourteen warnings worth about £13.6 million in penalties paid.
Is There a Gambling Commission Contact Number?
The UKGC may be contacted, but bear in mind that the Commission is there to prevent crime in gambling industries, not to serve as an extension of customer support. The Commission encourages officials in a gambling industry to report any suspicious activity, but the complaints of the public are not their direct area of interest.
If you work in a gambling business and have suspicions about the affairs at your workplace, you can visit the UKGC website and report your problem online or call the gambling commission on the phone number: 0121 230 6666.
Help For Customers
Even though the Commission doesn’t accept individual customer complaints, it still has a dedicated Self-Help page for customers who believe they were a victim of a scam. They advise you to familiarize yourself with the business terms and conditions and to follow every step of customer complaint process that shouldn’t take longer than 8 weeks. If during that whole time you weren’t satisfied, you have the right to take your complaint to the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider.
You can also use the Gambling Commissions’ email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a licence holder and would like to know more about any additional provisions on your licence, you can contact them on the email address: email@example.com. You can also use their eServices portal to cut down your waiting time on documents.
Other British Gaming Boards
Note that only businesses that adhere to UKGC’s regulations have the permission to operate on British soil. There are a lot of websites that have a licence from the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, the Gibraltar Gaming Commission or the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. However, since these agencies come from governing dependencies of the Crown and not the UK territories, their licences are not valid in the UK.
Note that you can always go and visit their website for more information about licence holders. They have a comprehensive database of all licence holders, and you can check if your preferred casino or a betting shop has a valid licence.
Do Gamblers Pay Tax in the UK?
All bets and gambling activity are not subject to taxation. That means that an individual who enjoys gambling doesn’t have to file any tax reports on any winnings made from gambling. However, the betting and gambling businesses are required to pay tax. Note that, since the legalization of betting, the UK has collected more than £10 billion in taxes. That means that a small part of each bet you make goes on to fund important social projects like schools, hospitals, and roads.