With so many thousands of online casinos on the market today, catering to your every gambling need, how do you really know that they are safe? Our guide will take you through how to spot a site that holds a casino license, UK regulated, and those that don’t. We will explore what requirements online casinos need to meet to uphold their license including responsible gambling, fair gaming, security, and encryption.
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The Gambling Commission was established under the Gambling Act 2005 as an independent public body funded by the UK Department for Culture, Media, and Sport. It is responsible for regulating all commercial gambling. Under the Gambling Act of 2005, all individuals and operators who wish to offer gambling services or advertise to UK customers must hold a UKGC license.
As a UK resident, it is entirely legal to participate in online gambling, as long as you are 18yrs or above. The more recent update in the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 depicts that all offshore operators providing gambling services to the UK must also be licensed by the UKGC.
When looking for licensed online casinos you may come across other licensing authorities displayed on the UKGC licensed casino websites, these are ‘whitelisted’ licensing authorities that have passed vigorous scrutiny by the UKGC and are approved as meeting all requirements necessary to offer and advertise gambling services on the UK market.
It further enhances the reliability of the sites as being legit online casinos when licensed in more than one jurisdiction. Other licensing authorities you can expect to see are:
If you are uncertain as to whether the site is a legal online casino, just click on the licensing logo, usually found in the footer of the casino web page, this will take you to the licensing page details or you can search for the casino through the UKGC website as it must hold a casino license UK.
Over the next few sections, we will be looking at the standards which licensed online casinos uphold to ensure the safety and reliability of their site and to ensure they meet the UKGC licensing requirements. These include stats and third-party auditing, data encryption and security, responsible gambling, and the casino’s reputation.
Reputable licensed online casinos will list the RTP percentages of their games and the odds/payout stats. The Return To Player (RTP) is the theoretical percentage indicating the potential payout to a player over an extended time period.
All legit online casinos will enlist the support of third-party auditors approved by the UKGC to monitor the RTP and RNG (Random Number Generator) stats to ensure their compliance with fair gaming protocol. The auditors will produce payout reports which many of the most reputable online casinos will publish on their websites.
As we mentioned above, the third party auditors are independent organizations that are approved by the UKGC, and the most well-known are listed below:
Another UKGC approved organization is IBAS who provides an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service which settles disputes between players and online gambling operators.
Under recent legislative changes, licensed operators must verify a player’s name and address prior to any gambling activity. For id verification purposes, sensitive data will be shared between the parties and furthermore, for enabling real money play at the online casino, financial information will also be shared.
It is therefore essential that you choose a legal online casino that uses certified SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) encryption which safeguards all data and financial transactions. Reputable casinos enlist the support of online security specialists to certify the platform’s safety, popular organizations include:
You can usually find the security provider’s details in the footer of the casino’s website or if you click on the padlock icon that appears before the url in the address bar of the browser, you will find the security certificate and its provider.
In 2020, the UKGC issued a blanket ban on all credit card transactions to reduce gambling-related harm and encourage responsible gambling. Another change has been to restrict child-appealing images for advertising gambling services and the introduction of the necessary requirement of a player’s name, age, and address to be verified prior to any gambling activity.
Real money online casinos must clearly display the terms and conditions associated with any bonuses offered including the wagering/playthrough requirements. Reputable online casinos will offer their players various tools to assist with gambling responsibly, such as deposit limits, time-outs, time limits, self-exclusion.
Those casinos operating with a casino license UK-regulated will partner with leading organizations that can provide specialist help and support to any player affected by gambling issues. The casino will advertise links and information for these organizations, displaying the respective logo in the footer of their website. These organizations include:
In 2020, the UKGC made it mandatory for all operators with a casino license UK to register with GamStop and actively promote its services. GamStop provides a one-stop service for players to self-exclude from all UKGC licensed online casinos. Self-exclusions can be for 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years.
There are, however, still a few casinos not on GamStop which UK players can still access, even though they have been self-excluded from UKGC licensed operators. These casinos have been able to avoid registration as they are licensed and registered elsewhere in the world.
As they will not be UKGC licensed, often the casinos not on GamStop will feature bonuses with high wagering requirements and hard to reach playthrough terms and conditions, they may feature poor technical security standards and possibly ‘rigged’ games, plus they may make it difficult to withdraw or be slow to payout.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that many of the legit online casinos will have built themselves a great reputation amongst players and will headline most players’ forums and review sites. Several of the top online casinos will have won iGaming industry awards which will be proudly displayed on their website footer, indicating their popularity and reputation within the industry.
Yes, as long as it is licensed and regulated by the UKGC as they must meet certain requirements to uphold their license.
Not if the casino is licensed with the UKGC as they are subject to third party auditors who monitor for fair gaming compliance.
Yes, all UK licensed casinos utilise encryption software to safeguard all data and financial transactions.