The UK may have been a late bloomer in terms of legalising gambling compared to other European countries. But after the emergence of the first casino in the 60s, The Gaming Act of 1968 has set the rules of gambling, allowing more casinos to form in the UK, and from it, the UK gambling industry has experienced exponential growth.
In recent years, the UK’s gambling industry’s growth is largely due to the initiation and rise of online gambling. According to the UK Gambling Commission, as of 2019, the UK achieved a Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) of £14.3 billion.
However, some of that growth is also down to the UK’s change in attitudes towards gambling and progressive thinking. This has meant the UK’s gambling legislation experienced significant changes in 2005 to update and improve laws, as well as include online gambling.
United Kingdom Gambling Commission
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) is a government body that propelled into action following the launch of the Gambling Act 2005.
The UKGC regulates the UK gambling industry and oversees the operations of casinos, bingo halls, sports betting, and the lottery.
As detailed in the act, the UKGCs responsibilities are as follows:
- Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder, or being used to support crime.
- Ensuring that gambling is conducted fairly and openly.
- Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
This is enforced by regularly conducting visits to gambling companies premises, reviewing their financial records, administering licence conditions, and taking regulatory action against licence holders who fail to comply with the rules. The UKGC enforce the Gambling Act 2005 and succeed in keeping crime involving gambling to a minimum.
This also includes online gambling, and you can find various casino sites adhering to these rules.
888 Casino is a good example of a UK licensed and regulated operator. They pride themselves on being compliant with responsible gaming guidelines, such as protection of minors, preventing compulsive gambling and providing self-limits options at their esteemed UK online casino.
Minimum legal age
To gamble in the UK in person or online, participants must be 18 or over. This rule protects young and vulnerable people from taking part in what is predominantly an adult game. Exceptions to the rule include lotteries, football pools, and some scratch cards. To participate in these games, players must be 16 years of age.
Gambling operators are legally required to request a customer’s age and ask for identification. The consequences of failing to disclose one’s real age to a gambling company could result in players being denied any prize money. They may also be required to pay a fine.
Must have a licence to operate
Before offering gambling services in the UK, companies need to apply for multiple licences from the UKGC to operate.
These licences are as follows:
- Operating licence
- Personal management licence
- Personal functional licence
If operating a physical casino, companies have to gain a premises licence from their local licencing provider.
Each licence covers important aspects of how the gambling company operates. For instance, the operating licence applies to any business in or outside the UK that wants to offer gambling services in the UK.
Depending on the company’s GGY, they will need to pay a relevant fee. For example, any company earning £1 billion or more needs to pay £57,304 to apply. Beyond this, an annual fee is required to process and renew the license.
The licence applications and fees give gambling companies the green light to offer their services to the UK public without penalty, providing they abide by the UKGC rules. Failure to comply with the terms of the licence agreement could result in a fine and their licence being revoked.
Advertising and marketing
Gambling companies must follow the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice code (LCCP) section 5.1 when creating and administering marketing material to the public.
The LCCP details how gambling organisations should market their services responsibly to the public. Such as those set out by The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP).
Suppose a company advertises that they are offering an incentive or reward, such as a sign-up bonus. In that case, the advert must set out the conditions of achieving the reward, plus follow through with the reward granted to customers once they successfully fulfil the conditions and claim the advertised prize.
As highlighted by ASA and CAP, gambling companies must not present misleading information about their services or a customer’s chances of succeeding at a game.
Moreover, advertising must not be directed to people below the legal age limit, and shouldn’t encourage or persuade people to gamble irresponsibly.
Equally, gambling institutions must not associate gambling with enhanced attractiveness, suggest peer pressure, or define gambling as a rite of passage. Additionally, adverts cannot express solitary gambling in favour of gambling socially or use cultural beliefs in adverts to promote luck or gambling with a particular audience.
Should gambling companies fall foul of their advertising responsibilities, they may be referred to Ofcom by ASA and could have their licence to broadcast revoked.
The importance of keeping the UK gambling industry safe
A secure and safe gambling industry is advantageous for the UK. It gives people the confidence to gamble, boosting the gambling operators’ income and giving them the means to support the UK in two ways:
1) As gambling companies income increases, the percentage of tax allocated to the UK government increases also. Allowing parliament to use the money to build a better country and continue investing money back into the UKGC, which enhances each player’s safety.
2) With more customers, gambling companies have the means to expand across the UK, providing more job opportunities to British residents. In 2019, just short of 100,000 employees were working in the gambling industry.
The UK gambling industry has become an essential component of the UK economy and it’s a favourite pastime for people to enjoy. As the UKGC and other independent bodies continue to monitor its use and promote the importance of safety and social responsibility, the UK gambling industry is destined to flourish.