If you’re yet to experience the thrills and spills of online betting, you might be wondering where platforms stand on regulation. In a nutshell, the UK online betting arena is one of the most regulated and watertight gambling sectors in the world.
At the forefront of this is the Gambling Commission. The gambling watchdog is responsible for keeping betting sites in check. Crucially, this ensures that you can gamble in a safe and secure environment at all times.
If you’re keen to find out more about how the top betting sites are regulated in the UK, be sure to read on.
The Gambling Commission
During the early days of online betting – which dates back to the mid-1990s, the online gambling space was nothing short of the Wild West. Players were able to open accounts without needing to prove who they were, and betting sites would come and go as frequently as the wind.
However, that all changed in 2005 with the introduction of the Gambling Act. This crucial piece of law is still the primary legislation that governs the online betting space. Moreover, the Act also paved the way for the UK’s national regulator – the Gambling Commission.
Eventually launched in 2007, the Gambling Commission is tasked with regulating the UK gambling industry. This includes land-based casinos and bookmakers, as well as online betting sites.
The Commission has a range of sanctions at its disposal should online betting sites fail to comply with the Gambling Act 2005, as well as its own LCCP (Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice). At the lower end, this includes monetary fines. For more serious or consistent breaches, the Commission can revoke an operator’s license.
Betting Sites Must be Licensed
Regardless of where the online betting site is based, operators must be in possession of a Gambling Commission license if it wishes to service UK players. If it doesn’t, it is operating illegally. As gambling regulations have become more and more stringent in the UK, obtaining a license is no easy feat for operators.
First and foremost, online betting sites must prove to the Commission that it has the required safeguards in place to keep players safe. This includes the formation of segregated bank accounts, which it must use to separate player funds from its own. Moreover – and as stated with the LCCP, betting sites must operate in a true and fair manner.
From the perspective of a sports betting site, this means offering odds that are consistent with the market, and honouring bets when they were placed in good faith. Although we often hear horror stories of betting sites cancelling or voiding winning bets, the Gambling Commission will always be at your disposal if you think this was done illegitimately.
While obtaining a Gambling Commission license is a long and cumbersome process for online betting sites, operators must still ensure that they remain complaint once approval has been granted. In order to keep a watchful eye over operators, the Commission will perform regular audits on the companies its licenses.
This consists of prearranged annual audits, although the Commission does have the right to perform random in-house checks at any given time. Importantly – and as we briefly mentioned above, if an online betting site does not comply with the Gambling Act 2005, the LCCP, or any other piece of relevant legislation for that matter – the operator could lose its license.
We should also note that the Commission now requires department leaders to hold an individual license. For example, this could the head of IT, regulation, trading, or finance. This means that should an online betting site fail to operate in a fair manner, individual license holders could be fined personally. If they are, this must be paid for by the individual themselves, as opposed to their employer.
As such, betting sites know first-hand the risks of malpractice. This is why the UK online gambling space is one of the safest sectors worldwide.