Online Casino Licensing: Everything You Need to Know

Online Casino Licensing

Online casinos will always need a gaming license to operate safely for the gambling community that they provide gaming facilities for. So if you choose to play within an online casino, it is necessary to understand how this licensing works and how it actually contributes overall to you and your online casino experience. Having an awareness will help you make the right selections in terms of casinos you go for, it is very important to educate yourself correctly, so you can make the right choices always for you and your pending gaming experience.

This guide will go in depth of all the details that you must know when it comes to the UK licensing operations and to what extent this actually affects your gaming experience as a player. It would work very well for you as a new player/on going player to apply all the facts and knowledge we have provided you in this guide, to further your gaming experience and success in the long term.

What is a casino license?

A casino license is legal paperwork that allows it to be up and running for the gambling business. With that, comes a series of rules and regulations that must be followed to deem the casino a safe place for the best-practice of gambling. All casinos that involve themselves within iGaming will need to get this permit to allow for advertising and legal gambling throughout the gambling community. Abiding by this official code of conduct is not just important, it is a part of the law and any casino that doesn't, will not be considered as a safe place to gamble and play on.

The licensing provides a sense of assurance to all joining parties abide to standards that are fit for business. This also includes the casino adhering to the correct social responsibilities required when advertising is concerned, in addition to research, the information provided to players, of age gambling, anti laundering and all the technical standards needed to ensure that players are fully safe and well.

Casinos that have the correct permits, make sure that there are the correct anti laundering procedures put in place to detect any possibilities of crime that may go on within the business. For that reason the fully licensed casinos are very aware of how to flag it up and the steps that must follow to put a stop to it.

There are many permit bodies that operate across casinos in each and every country. The UK Gambling Commission is the authority that takes charge of the United Kingdom, whereas bodies such as the Malta Gambling Authority is in charge of the country Malta and so on etc. Before the casinos actually get their hands on the gambling license, a series of tests will be performed to make sure everything within facilities actually abide by the rules of conduct of the jurisdictions and policies. If anything does not actually match up perfectly, it will be mentioned and the casino will need to alter it accordingly to be able to qualify for the permit and of course, be open for business.

What should casinos adhere to when applying for their permits?

To understand further the qualities and criterias that casinos need to follow, we will summarize these qualities down below for you. These qualities are imposed and therefore very ridgid. They cannot be altered by the casinos or changed according to further discussions between the casino and gambling authorities. The specification is very much final.

Promotions and advertisements

All gambling campaigns by the casinos wishing to qualify for the legal permit, will need to ensure that their promotions and advertising qualify in an acceptable way. Nothing can be presented in a deceiving manner with false information or bring unfair advantage to the consumer in any way. This is very specific towards the casinos' way of advertising their casino bonuses-the organisation takes particular focus on this particular matter.

Contributions to education for society

Other aspects that casinos need to take into consideration is how they can provide a contribution to problem gamblers within the community. They need to perhaps voluntarily contribute money towards the cause and also advertise within their site the actual partnership with fellow problem gambling organisations.

Problem gambling is a huge issue and for a casino to side and partner with the fellow charities will help support the community they wish to build. The Gambling Commission finds this topic of high priority and often takes part in charitable events/fundraisers to help annual research and education against the problems associated with gambling.

Terms and conditions for players

Casinos must provide players with the correct up to date information of all the terms and conditions which tie to the promotional offers and gambling games in general within their site. There can be no loopholes and everything must be fully accounted for, so players can fully know how to play with the honest information given.

Social gamble responsibility must be addressed too, to make sure that players can engage in gambling safely. The information should also be easily accessible at any time too within the online casino site, so players can access it and refer back to it with their own freedom, whenever it best suits them.

Underage gambling is not permitted

Underage gambling is a huge issue, because it is very much illegal to gamble under the age of 18 within the UK (other countries will differ in legal gamblng age). Meaning, casinos will need to put the correct steps in place to ensure that their policies do not let this regulation slide and make sure those under the age will not be permitted to gamble at all. Many of the casino measures used to stop underage casino gaming, include identification policies that all new players must abide by, in addition to banking methods that will fully identify who the player and user actually is.

Deactivation and self exclusion

Players that join a casino by licensing jurisdictions, can deactivate their account at any time to self exclude from the gambling community they are a part of. This is an important feature that casinos must have to obtain their permits/licensing. This time frame will allow players to take a break for up to 7 months before the account is permanently closed. To have this option, the setting can be enabled/disabled by the players on their online casino account. The entire idea behind this, is that players can take charge of their gambling future within an online casino.

Anti-laundering policies

Gambling sites must incorporate a system that can monitor and recognise when money laundering may be an issue within the platform. Money laundering fraud is a huge issue that casinos cannot be associated with nor allow. For that reason, the systems or safeguards in place to prevent laundering are regularly evaluated and looked at for their efficiency. It will be the casinos responsibility to update their safeguard policies in line with the latest government and gambling commission standards.

Technical updates

This specification regards the latest technical standards that casinos should integrate within their facility. As time goes on, the technology standard available will always improve and evolve. It is the casino's job to ensure they keep up to date with all the latest standards. Of course there are frequent audits that will also regularly take place to ensure the strategies in place are fully cooperative with the Gambling authorities. These audits often take place at random, to test how well the technology behind gaming operations perform, in addition to the fair play of the games too.

ADR

Casinos should give players the option to dispute their services without charge. This will usually be via a provider named as the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This service is very important to improve and bring together a casino's reputation and credibility. In addition to this, it empowers players to take charge of their expectations within any situation and of course manage it too. This option should be available very easily and of course advertised for the players' awareness. Casinos should, of course, stick to the list of ADR that is suggested by the gambling commissions.

A history of the licensing within the UK

In the UK, games and gambling have been around for centuries yet from the 20th century and beyond that is when the gambling commission really first came into action. Anytime before that, gambling was passed through acts of parliament. So all commercial gambling like horse racing etc, had to be permitted, yet it just so happened to be that the elite and privileged had the option of gambling back then.

In the early 1900’s that was when the idea of commissioning and legislation were introduced within the community. Yet, it was not finalised until the year 1960, when the law had introduced the idea of government supervision when it comes to legalised betting especially in large accommodations and venues that catered to them. The 1960’s was also the first introduction to a land based casino and of course, it was fully regulated with the correct assigned legislations and regulations recently brought to life. Bookmakers and bingo halls had moved forward to the official representation via such gambling legislations too, and from then on, this movement grew further and further to make sure all venues and gambling establishments followed in the same pursuit.

In the 1990’s, that was where the virtual online casino function came to be. It was still early days of course and big software developers of today such as Microgaming, had taken the first place of being a part of an online community that would rise from an UK online casino. Of course, the gambling commission and licensing law was well under way within the gambling industry of the UK and for that reason, integrating it within the casino realm too was not a problem at all. It was not until 2003 however, that a live casino was introduced. This was not by the efforts of Microgaming, but rather the developers Playtech, who decided to take recognition for the next evolution of the online casino world.

Present day casino gaming has seen the most updated regulation and gambling act. This is referred to as the Gambling Act 2005, where all casinos had to abide by the legislations provided, to ensure they cater to a safe and flourishing gambling environment. The Gambling Act 2005 is constantly being improved and upgraded however, with the most recent update taking place in 2014. This update made sure that every last bit of offshore game gambling had to also operate with the UK Gambling Commission if they are catered to the UK gambling market.

All the casinos that we cater to and promote within our site are fully regulated and hold the UK Gambling Commission licensing, to ensure that all prospective UK players are fully protected and safe when they play online casinos.

What are the benefits of making sure you play at a licensed casino and why is it so important?

Online casinos need to be regulated and licensed due to expanding far beyond the ‘niche’ that they once were. With more people playing, players need to be protected of course. Without the regulations, casinos could get away with anything and not stick to any code of conduct or laws. Meaning, nothing will be done in an ethical way, rather the best way to generate profit, with no attention to the consequences that follow. The benefits of having a license integrated within your playing experience is shown below.

Stability in operations

Online casino licenses should indicate how serious and stable a casino is. As to get the permit, many procedures need to be completed and done. Also the gambling business will always be under test and analysis at random, to ensure that the casino is continuously performing the way it should be for players. Organisations like eCOGRA and iTech are the kind of organisations that assess the casino suitability and stability all throughout the year.

Game quality and interaction

There is no doubt that with all the assessments that proceed so frequently at random, the quality of the games on the site will also be assessed to make sure they are the best quality for the technological times they are-meaning games need to run smoothly and not lag at all. Therefore the latest HTML5 software needs to be integrated and updated frequently. These technological audits will pick up on any issues immediately upon analysis. In addition to this, the RNG will be scrutinised as much as possible to make sure it is operating as it should be for player fairplay.

Player protection

As a player you will be protected when playing on an online casino. This is due to the legality and foundations in place. You will not play any games that are rigged or put you playing in any unfair advantage. In addition to this, there are many safeguarding measures that are put  to ensure that ADR services are at hand to solve any disputes you may have with the casino at the time. They will look into anything that involves gameplay issues, accounting and finances and the external audits of a casino. This is very important for a safe gaming environment.

Anti-laundering prevention

When a gambling platform gets their license, many of the money laundering checks will be in place to ensure the casino is not involved in the criminal activity that surrounds the business. Not only this, by taking the permit, casinos must willingly abide by these checks to continue to repeat frequently throughout the year-and at random too! Meaning there is nowhere to hide really. The laws behind gambling really prioritise stopping any fraudulent activity or laundering that can be of assistance to terrorism. For that reason players should feel safe that their money will never be used by the casino for the wrong purposes or funnel itself into a deceiving member's hands for example.

Social and ethical awareness

Casinos must support charitable practices that look after people with money gambling problems. In addition to this, casinos must make their players aware of the extent of their support when it comes to helping and supporting gambling problems. Things such as caps on limits within the week of depositing funds to play.

Casinos will monitor when you are losing too much and yet continue to make expenses when it is clearly not sustainable. This is why you can trust a casino with licensed paperwork, to make the stops and amendments if as a player you do not know how to be sustainable yourself. Trusting your casino operator for that gambling support is what the government and gambling commission has asked of casinos and by law they need to make sure they are fulfilling that for your safety and benefit.

How do I recognise a safe casino to play at?

As a player, the more you play, the more you will recognise what casinos are actually safe to play on. For that reason we thought to include the top signs that a player should look out for to ensure that they are able to recognise a safe casino from an uncertain and possibly dangerous casino to play.

First things first, the footer of the casino should always contain a banner or logo of the UK Gambling Commissions, to verify and give assurance to players that the casino is a safe one to play at. Casinos will always want to make it easier for you and your peace of mind. If you do not happen to find the logo at the bottom, or you have to look hard to find it, then you definitely need to watch out as that is not a good sign at all. If however, the official logo is not available, a license number should be quoted instead, that is for you to go search beyond within the UK Gambling commissions records. With that license number, you will be able to find out if this casino actually exists with a license within the gambling public register.

If none of the major signs are present, you can be sure that you are dealing with a fraudulent or suspicious casino. You can always contact the customer care of the site yourself and investigate your concerns with them. If they have nothing to hide they will be happy to assist you!

Why avoid unlicensed casinos?

It is important to avoid unlicensed casinos as your safety and game experience will be put at risk.There is no need to put yourself in any danger because there are hundreds of casinos that you can play with, without having to give the benefit of the doubt. Our casinos are completely monitored and tested for you, so you do not need to struggle to put facts together and hope for the best when playing in a casino. You can 100% vouch that you will be safe through our recommendations. We thought to elaborate further on the risks to yourself if you do happen to play with the wrong casino choices.

The risk of losing your winnings and cash

We should not even have to say it, there is a great risk to players that play in an unlicensed casino, to lose their cash in the process. You could find yourself not only losing all your deposit but the money you won from things such as deposits etc. The policies that licensed casinos need to stick with in terms of fair treatment and advantage to players, casinos without permits, will not need to take any notice or care of your rights at all.

Many reports on the internet showcase players that have reported against the mistreatment from unlicensed casinos; reports suggest how poorly they were handled and the great extent of cash that they ultimately lost in the process. Therefore heed our words and do not be the next victim with no hope of resolve!

Games will be rigged

You heard that right! Due to the lack of commitment by the unlicensed casinos to the correct procedures of the game quality and fairness, it will be highly likely that your games will be rigged and not give you the fair random gameplay that you deserve. Unlicensed platforms will make sure that they come out on top everytime and reduce your chances further to not having any of the wins that you deserve. Essentially, taking your money for free-every single time.

Your experience will not be secure

Your experience deserves the right to be safe and secure. Yet with an unlicensed casino, you will find that the procedures that need to be down on the back end of the casino, such as encryption and data handling will not be prioritised. This means your safety is never guaranteed against potential fraudsters and hackers. You are putting yourself and sensitive banking information at risk to anyone watching.

There will be no customer support

We have seen how casinos that operate without licensing handle customers. The so-called casino customer service is non-existent. Any emails and requests for attention will not be acknowledged at all. Yes, they may have one channel of contact, but replies will be vague and you will not get the resolution that you deserve or need as a paying customer on the platform.

Your money may be used for fraud

The money that you put into casinos that are not regulated, can very much go into laundering purposes and aid crime. You can never guarantee the implications and handling of your money unfortunately. Regulated casinos and the cash flow avenues will always be accounted for and therefore can guarantee absolute safety to you and the gambling community. You do not want your cash going towards funding any criminal activity do you? Make sure you stay away and keep your cash close to you against these criminal bodies that wish to take advantage of you!

Casinos that are licensed overseas

As you may be aware, some casinos will obtain multiple licenses and operate beyond the UK region. The reason for this is the EEA license issuing, that allows the European area to have access to the UK gambling market, just as long as the correct licensing and paperwork is supported and completed. These countries are labelled as the ‘White list’ countries.

The two most prominent gambling licenses that are offshore to the UK are the MGA and the GRA- The Malta Gambling Authority and The Gibraltar Gambling Comission. The MGA is a very common licensing that UK casinos hold to provide casino services to UK casino customers and abroad. This license is actually the first remote licenses to ever be installed within the gambling community.

The GRA however is linked just like the MGA to the UK Gambling Commission. They have the right to have customers and players beyond their shores and within the UK too. The industry is booming now more than ever and the GRA have very much built foundations across Europe for their gambling services. This jurisdiction within the gambling community, also deals with complaints from customers that deal with casinos across Gibraltar.

Application Process of obtaining a license

The application process of obtaining a license as we have mentioned briefly within our guide, is a long winded process, to ensure the casino is as safe as it can be for potential future players that wish to join the casino themselves. There is a fee that gets administered, in addition to a total wait of around 16 weeks. The fee is not fixed and will depend entirely on what the casino earns in gambling profit and yield, meaning it can go from two figures sums to four and beyond!

To begin the process, applicants will need to provide methods of identification and documentation of their independent business and how it will be run and is currently operated. In addition to this, a clean criminal record needs to be provided to ensure that the casino will be operated without any evidence of suspicious motives. Due to the extent of background checks, this can really lengthen the entire process of operation, yet it will need to be done to prevent any flags further down the lines of business.

Suspension of licenses

You may find that in some extreme cases, action will be taken against the casinos that do not take their conditions of their permits seriously. Any malpractice will give rise to investigations that can lead to actual criminal charges in the process. For this reason, within the terms of the permit, casinos can be revoked of their rights and privilege to run a casino legally if they breach any of their conditions and rules. The suspension will not be forever if the reasoning behind it is not of criminal offence. The casino will need to prove that it can continue a safe environment in regard to the British Gambling authorities, and once that has been proved, the license will be reinstalled.

Yet in the worst scenarios, if the gambling platform goes way beyond hopes of changing, or the reasoning behind it is very severe, the site will be blacklisted and promoted as a site to avoid within the gambling community. Many sites every year fail to keep to their regulations and practices and ultimately get revoked of their licenses and rights to provide gambling services.

With all the information that we have given you within this guide, one thing can be summarised overall, do your research and make sure you are gambling within a safe and secure site!

References

  1. New Casino Sites
  2. Remote Gambling - HM Government of Gibraltar

Author

Hi, I'm James

"More than 5 years experience in the online gambling sector and 4 of them working with casinos. I'll share my thoughts relating to what you should be looking for in a casino and whether a site is worth your time and money."

Reviewer since October, 2020