There will always be risk involved in gambling, but let it be of the right kind – at the tables. Not when transferring money, submitting personal information, or signing up for a promotion.
Gambling Act 2005
The Gambling Act 2005 which established both the Gambling Commission and the licensing system in place today. The document sets out three licensing objectives (part 1, section 1):
- 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 in a fair and open way, and
- protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
Simple, right? Well, in 2005 the internet was far from what it is today, the advertising landscape completely different, and problematic gambling habits poorly researched. Since then numerous pieces of legislation have been appended to keep up with the times, but those three points must admittedly be considered well formulated; most amendments and appendices are definitions, clarifications and guidelines trying to keep up with new technologies in terms of those three points.
For players it is usually enough to know that there is a license system in place, and that playing with a licensed operator equals being in good hands. So, before we go into more detail about how games are tested for fairness and such, let us go through how to make sure that an operator has a valid license. Apart from picking a casino from TopCasinoSites.
UKGC - Legal Resources
UK Gambling License
A valid gambling license issued by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is required for any company looking to offer online gambling to persons residing in the UK. Player’s do not break the law by playing at an unlicensed casino site – the burden lies on the provider – but if players are poorly treated or outright scammed it will be hard to get any kind of help from local authorities, and any lost funds will most definitely be gone forever.
It is in other words in every gamblers’ best interest to know how to spot a licensed operator before it is too late.
Spotting and controlling the validity of a gambling license
Licensees are required to present company information and license number on the site from which they are offering their products. We always make sure that the casinos we recommend have an active valid license but if you want to check for yourself here is the easiest way:
- Scroll down to the footer of the casino site you are about to investigate.
- There you should find information on what company it is that is operating the site and what licenses they have.
But nothing would of course stop a benevolent actor to fabricate this information and slap on a couple of badges, claiming that their software is fair and tested. Fortunately the Gambling Commission keeps an online record of all license holders and it is easily accessed – and searchable - by anyone.
Our reviews always include an info-box with a link to the licensees' page in the public register.
Most reliable operators will even link to their page in the public registry and that of course makes the process easy: make sure the status of the license is active and that the site from where you came is the same as provided in the list of active ‘Domain names’.
If the footer information does not contain a link, simply follow our link above to the search function of the public register. Put in either the provided company name, the stated license number or the name of the brand. Note that it is not possible to search for website addresses (URLs). If you do not get a result back it is was probably a scam site.
How can we trust games to be fair?
What playing with licensed operators require of us
Licensing matters rarely require anything of players - as is appropriate, we are after all customers, not license holders - but there is one thing requiring some effort from our part.
In order for the online operator to prevent illegal activity like money laundering and to assure that minors are not allowed onto their systems, as stated as two of the primary objectives of the licensing system, a player’s identity must be known. This in turn require players to provide documents that prove their identity. This is done by a process is known as KYC (Know Your Custome).
The KYC process is pretty much the only way in which gambling legislation affects us players directly, and is completed by sending in a recent utility bill of some sort (addressed to the person in question) and a passport copy (or other valid ID). Electronic verification methods will hopefully soon be available as well. Players can also be requested to provide documents which validates their ‘Source of Wealth’, but this is mostly in cases involving large sums of money.
So, before you head over to any online casino site, it is advisable to have these documents ready, preferably in digital form.
Know Your Customer