Most beginners (new players) don’t care to much about licenses. Or they do look for a licence, but pay little attention if this licence is from Malta, Curacao, Gibraltar or the UK. What is the difference, right? Well, there is, quite a lot!. And once players start winning hundreds and hundreds, players now wish they paid more attention to the licenses… Better to tackle this in advance and avoid issues. So why do we think you should only gamble on a UK licensed Casino?
What do we mean when we say casino licence?
If you want to start a casino within the UK, you will need to go to the Gambling Commission and ask for permission. If you follow their strict guidelines, they might give you a licence. The Gambling Act of 2005 states that a licence is there to:
- prevent any connection between gambling and criminal activity
- ensure games are fair and transparent
- prevent children and vulnerable people from being exploited.
Now, as to make sure these goals are met, you are being hold account for:
- confirmation of the identity of the person/company applying for the licence, to ensure accountability
- proof that the person/company has sufficient finances to run the business, so it won’t collapse after a series of big winning punters
- evidence that the person or company is honest and trustworthy
- qualifications and experience proving the person or company is capable of running a gambling business
- proof of a clear criminal record.
So, be sure you can meet these requirements before beginning that casino! Seems hard right? Don’t worry, you are not alone. That’s why some casinos go and look overseas for licences. Does that automatically mean your dream is lost? No! There are some exceptions of online casinos to operate in the UK. These are countries from the European Economic Area (EEA) and other countries that are “whitelisted”. There are some countries that have such high standards that UK Gambling Commission recognities them as “remote” operators:
- EEA countries
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Isle of Man
But you are not there yet! In 2014, the Gambling Act got further ‘tightened’. Companies that had licences elsewhere are now obliged to have at least some part of their company based in the UK. You can assume that all casinos that use a licence from a whitelisted country are meeting the requirements of being a UK Licensed Casino.
How you can tell if you are playing on an UK licensed casino?
Scroll down! You should find everything you need to know in the footer. It’s an etiquette (unwritten rule) that Online Casinos hold. You can look for a number or a stamp, crest or a name. If you want to be sure, the Gambling Commission has a search tool where you can find any company licensed. You can find if they are still in the process of applying and where exactly they are based.
How much are other licences worth?
Though you should always look for a casino that is in some way regulated by the Gambling Commission, there can be additional licenses that prove the integrity of a casino. For instance, independent parties like eCOGRA can test the return to player percentage (RTP). They compare their calculation of payout percentages to what is stated by the casinos.
Als worth noting is the European Sports Security Association (ESSA), looking closely for criminal or otherwise suspicious behaviour. Last but not least, there are bodies that deal with the more problematic sides of gambling. Like GamCare, a Gambling Addiction Support Group, watching out for- and supporting people with a gambling problem.
Though this isn’t an law by nature, we could argue that the more of these licenses and certificates s casino has, the more you can be assured you are playing on a fair casino with good support, and that your money will be safe.
What you can expect from different licenses!
So what are the differences between licenses when playing on an online casino?
-We start of with the actual first country to regulate online gambling. Through the Lotteries and Other Games Act they pioneered law and regulation and have been in the forefront of the industry ever since. Setting a standard for other countries to live up to. Malta prides themselves for being open and honest, while on the other hand being structured and strict. They do their best to protect the interest of small players as well as larger companies.
-Curacao on the other hand has had a more hands off approach, resulting in a poor reputation. Protection of players hasn’t been a priority, but (and this is a big but) since Curacao is part of the kingdom of the Netherlands in 2010 there has been a big renovation in the ranks of the bureaucray . Still, the direct influence of the dutch government is limited and no warranty of anything.
-The last UK licensed Casino candidate is Gibraltar. Last but by no means least! The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority holds the highest standards in player protection. They sometimes even go further than the UK standard, making multiple suggestions for improvements and raising the bar in player protection!
The importance of the Gambling Commission
This institution is of great importance since it regulates everything related to gambling in the most fanatic betting country of the world. The Gambling Commission has been brought to existence in 2005 to regulate commercial gambling in the UK together with overseas licensing authorities. In short this means they provide further licensing on top of the Malta, Gibraltar or Curacao licensing and provide society with transparant knowledge about the gambling industry. They have formulated their goals in the following matter:
- 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
- protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
You might notice player complains are not mentioned in this small list of objectives. This is because they don’t handle them. They check the procedure of operators when handling complaints, but do not investigate themselves. There are so many operators that the Gambling Commission has to operate on a ‘META’ level. If gambling providers fall out off line, they will get punished accordingly or their license will be revoked.
A newcomer: the Swedish Spelinspektionen
Recently Sweden has opened up their market to international gambling companies. The Spelinspektionen, formerly known as the Lotteriinspektionen, has gotten a variety of new tasks. They used to control state-owned monopoly companies, now they need to see that about 90 businesses follow their guidlines. So far only 20 have met the requirements that were set by the Swedish Gambling Authority.
Dutch Gambling Market 2021
Somewhere between March and October 2021, the Dutch market (as one of the last in Europe) will open up to foreign and commercial casino brands. We will keep you updated here on what brands manage to gain a license from the Dutch authorities.