The Changing Nature of Gambling Regulations in the UK

The United Kingdom is home to some of the most liberal gambling regulations in the world. All gambling licensing and regulation falls under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), which is the authority responsible for overseeing all gambling-related activity. 2018 has seen a slew of amendments and modifications in gambling activity across the United Kingdom and beyond. The UK gambling industry is subject to an array of changes to reflect the nature of the industry. Responsible gambling practices are the foremost priority in the UK. Operators are mandated by law to be compliant with the policies and procedures under the law. Among others, ongoing checks and balances with respect to social responsibility, obligations for license holders, AML and KYC protocols, technical standards (vis-à-vis random number generators), and ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution).

2018 changes to the LCCP became effective on October 31, 2018. Chief among the recent changes are rules and regulations relating to betting on lotteries and lottery-style games and compliance-related procedures thereof. Various regulatory changes were implemented with bingo games and casino games too. Further the UKGC (United Kingdom Gambling Commission) implemented a set of changes regarding how gaming machines and arcade games are mandated for compliance. As is evident from the changing nature of gambling regulations and compliance-related procedures, the UKGC is always hard at work fine-tuning legislation for the domestic market. These new amendments and additions to current legislation offer interesting insights into how various sectors of the UK gambling industry are allowed to operate.

One of the most notable aspects of gambling regulations in 2018 and beyond is that the UKGC is growing in size and scope. The following listing illustrates which authorities regulate and legislate relevant products in the United Kingdom. A listing of the top casinos in the United Kingdom is provided courtesy of bestukcasino.org.uk. All the requisite legal and regulatory requirements have been detailed. As for the rest of gambling operations in the UK, this is how they are categorized:

  • Casino, Bingo, Poker gaming by the Gambling Commission of Great Britain for digital regulations. All land-based regulations of these gambling activities are regulated by the Gambling Commission of Great Britain and various local authorities.
  • Fantasy betting and lotteries are regulated by the same authorities as gaming, with the Gambling Commission of Great Britain in charge of these online gambling activities and the Gambling Commission of Great Britain in charge of the land-based variants of these gambling games.
  • Social and Skill arrangements are regarded as social gaming with no prize in money or money’s work and therefore are not regulated by the Gambling Commission of Great Britain.

Will the Brexit Change Gambling Regulations in the UK for 2018 and Beyond?

Gambling regulations typically tend to follow European mandated laws in the UK. That the UK is set to break free from the EU with the upcoming Brexit (British exit from the EU) is an important consideration. Not only will this have far-reaching implications on the nature of gambling for the UK, but it will likely affect how gambling-style activities are made available to players in the EU and the UK. The pace of change continues to affect the online gambling industry in many ways. Regulators and media scrutiny continue to focus on the gaming sector. Consider that in the UK, the financial services sector (under the auspices of the Financial Conduct Authority) faced fines valued at GBP 1.981 billion since 2013. As a result of these punitive measures, some 100+ major UK companies have shuttered operations.

The Brexit is sure to raise alarm bells when EU-licensed operators attempt to provide gambling services to UK clients and vice-versa. As it stands many European online casinos have passporting rights to the United Kingdom and UKGC-licensed operators can offer gambling services to the EU. The precise details regarding any upcoming changes in 2018/9 remain a little sketchy. Regardless, UK operators are going to face many challenges moving forward. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission is also expanding, both in scope and in terms of regulatory authority. This has resulted from the inability of several gambling companies failing to protect underage players and/or fraudulent activity from taking place.

They do this by way of ongoing audits to pressure businesses to comply with current legislation. One of the most pressing areas is online ID verification. Multiple verification databases are requested with due diligence on the part of customers. AML and KYC checks are also being enforced and this presents major challenges for online gaming operators and regulators. Audits are the most important elements of current legislation and UKGC regulators are preparing compliance requirements and mandating applicable regulations in real time.

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