About UK Gambling Commission
The first online sportsbook service first hit the World Wide Web back in 1996 and while other operators were slow to take up the baton, digital betting moved steadily from this point. The real boom came some ten years later when the big brands started to set up their online presence while other, new operators, jumped on the bandwagon.
Regulatory bodies were losing pace with the revolution and so, in 2007, the UK Gambling Commission was formed. Bettors are likely to have seen details of the commission, either in news reports or, they may be referenced on bookmakers’ homepages. But what is their role and why, exactly, are they necessary?
The Leading Regulatory Body in Gambling
Prior to the Gambling Commission, there was the UK Gaming Board who oversaw the entire industry in the UK. Historically, this body was mainly responsible for physical gambling in Great Britain in an era when the high street dominated. With online betting starting to take over, the Gambling Act of 2005 decided that the UK Gambling Commission should step in and tackle the challenges that the digital age was producing.
In the present day, the Gambling Commission is the leading regulatory body and any operator looking to set up a presence in the UK has to abide by their rules. It’s a particularly busy time for them at the moment but what has the UKGC been involved with in the past and what are their future challenges?
UKGC Work and Advertising Controls
The UK Gambling Commission lists a very simple mission statement on their website. Their aim is, therefore, to license and regulate the people providing gambling services to players in the United Kingdom.
Anyone who is looking to offer any form of betting services in the UK needs to obtain a license in the first instance. There are a number of options available but they can only do this through the UKGC. Since the Commission first came online in 2007, one of their main roles is to therefore assess the credentials of the operator looking to become established. After rigorous searches, a license is then issued which confirms their eligibility to offer betting facilities in the UK.
One of the key focal points for the UKGC lies with advertising and, as we’ll see later in this review, they work very closely with the Advertising Standards Authority. The question of advertisements for betting companies is a contentious one and in 2018, the Labour opposition lobbied for a ban on TV ads during live matches.
This is the type of thing that the UKGC assess and they work closely with the gambling operators before passing any regulations in this respect. It’s a busy workload and there are other bodies taking up the Gambling Commission’s time.
What is BeGambleAware and How is it Related to UKGC
BeGambleAware is an independent charity and it has been set up to tackle the issues of problem gambling. If you are accessing a sportsbook in the UK then you may well see this service advertised via their brand logo at the bottom of the relevant homepage.
Based in London, BeGambleAware was proposed by the Gambling Act of 2005 which was the same legislation that led to the formation of the UK Gambling Commission. Technically, they are two separate entities but the UKGC does actively prescribe the services of the charity within its License Conditions and Codes of Practise.
Operators in the UK look to provide access and links to the BeGambleAware website as part of their drive to promote responsible gambling. Together, the gambling industry in Britain provides around £8 million in voluntary donations each year. For those who feel they may have issues with gambling, full details can be found on the BeGambleAware website and there is a confidential free phone number available between 8am and Midnight – 7 days a week.
What is the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS)?
There are a number of bodies attached to the UKGC, all working to a common goal and one of these is the Independent Betting Adjudication Service. This organisation offers a specific service and that is to arbitrate in disputes between bettors and their bookmakers.
Essentially, the services offered by IBAS can be directly compared to those provided by the Financial Ombudsman for any sector of the finance industry. IBAS are there to mitigate in any disagreement between bookmaker and customer provided all of the usual complaints channels have been explored. In addition, please note that claims can be capped at £10,000 and above that level, courts may need to get involved but for smaller disputes, this is an extremely vital service.
What is the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)?
Part of the work of the UK Gambling Commission centres around advertising. The question of gambling ads on TV is a contentious one and there are particular concerns over the amount of exposure that betting companies get during live sport.
The UKGC isn’t part of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) but the two bodies certainly work closely together. Here, the issue isn’t so much about quantity and timing: As the name suggests, the ASA is all about standards and to ensure that advertisements are not misleading and that any claims made by those ads can be backed up with real evidence.
A hypothetical example may involve a betting company that uses the words ‘risk free’ or perhaps they overpromise on winnings and bonuses. Thankfully the instances are rare but the ASA is there as a further safety net to protect UK bettors.
Complaint Management at the UKGC
The UK Gambling Commission helpfully lists its complaints procedure so there is a simple process to follow. It’s easy to access from the homepage and lists all the options available when customers have a complaint against a certain operator.
The UKGC states that players must follow all of the complaint channels provided by the operator in question before contacting them and that is an important point to remember. Once that has been taken care of, there is a set process to follow before the Gambling Commission has an option to adjudicate on the complaint. This is a separate service to IBAS although it works in a similar way and in general, the UKGC can cover larger issues than their IBAS counterpart.
UK License and Access to UK Audience
Anyone looking to provide gambling facilities to any customer based in Great Britain will have to obtain a license from the UK Gambling Commission. There are three types of licenses available and in some cases, companies may need to obtain all three before they commence trading.
The options available are an operating license, a personal management license and a personal functional license. Full details as to how each of the licenses work can be found on the UKGC main website but at the very least, an operating license will need to be issued. The wording of an operating license will vary depending on the types of gambling offered but this is the minimum that a new business will need if they are going to offer access to a UK audience.
Before signing up with an account, be certain that full details of that UKGC license are displayed in full. It’s just one more way in which the UK Gambling Commission keeps the nation’s bettors safe when staking online.