Discussed for many months before the latest rules came into place, and sometimes a source of contention among certain operators, the new iGaming laws came into effect in November 2014 and marked a turning point every player in the market.
Since online casino, poker, and sports betting became a popular industry in the UK, the country's lawmakers have relied on external licensing bodies to regulate sites serving British residents. Bodies such as the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission were used to oversee the legitimacy of iGaming platforms and did a good job of it.
However, owing to a change of thinking and a desire to generate some tax revenue from online operators, the UK decided to take matters into its own hands. In November, 2014, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) became the controlling body for British iGaming and any operator wishing to serve residents were required to hold a valid gaming licence.
While the UK Gambling Commission was previously tasked with regulating internet gambling sites based in the United Kingdom, the purview of their powers increased significantly. Thanks to recent legislative changes, the UKGC would have the power to regulate and tax not only online casinos physically based in the United Kingdom, but any gambling sites that serves UK players. At the core of this legal shift was the desire to regulate remote operators more closely and ensure players were afforded the best protection possible.
Today, casino online sites must make an application to the UKGC if they want to operate and advertise legally in the UK. Once an application has been processed, the site has been deemed as safe and secure. After paying a licensing fee, the site is free to offer services and games to UK residents.
From a player's perspective, the changes haven't affected the way they can ante-up. In fact, the only noticeable change on some sites is that players are now filtered through a special UK facing portal. Players in the United Kingdom who visit global sites will still have access to the same games, software, and odds as gamblers in other countries.
Although there were some initial concerns by the regulatory changes in the UK, the reality is actually extremely positive. Following the November 2014 turning point, any site that is regulated by the UKGC is now one of the safest platforms in the world.
The UKGC verifies each operator before a license is granted, so you can rest assured that all of the sites it oversees are secure. In fact, the UKGC now analyses and assesses everything from random number generators, to the way online casinos hold player funds, to ensure that players won't ever fall foul of rogue operators.
Therefore, when you choose one of our recommended UK casino sites, you can ante-up safe in the knowledge that every game is fair and all your funds will be protected and insured by the UK government.
Following the legislative changes that came into effect on November 1, 2014, all licensed casino online sites were subsequently required to hold all player funds in a separate account. Following past problems with sites keeping their operating funds and player funds together, all legit sites must now lock players' bankrolls in a secure account and only access them when processing withdrawals. Following on from this rule change, the UKGC published a new set of conditions at the start of 2015 which further outlined the regulatory process.
In total there are three levels of protection, Basic, Medium and High, and every licensed casino site must now publish which level of protection they use so that all players can see how their funds are handled.
Customer funds ratings categories as outlined by the UKGC:
Basic - Segregation of customer funds - Customer funds are kept in accounts separate from business accounts but they would form part of the assets of the business in the event of insolvency. These accounts may include bank accounts, investment accounts and other accounts.
Medium - Quistclose or equivalent - Customer funds are kept in accounts separate from business accounts; and arrangements have been made to ensure assets in the customer accounts are distributed to customers in the event of insolvency. The arrangements falling in the medium category include Quistclose accounts and insurance arrangements.
High - Independent trust account - Customer funds are held in a trust account which is verified and subject to controls by an independent trustee.
The new financial practices not only give you peace of mind, but greater transparency means the entire gambling industry is more accountable. Of course, you’ll need to restrict yourself to casino online play, poker rooms, and bookmakers that are fully licensed and regulated. Given the number of legitimate sites, there isn’t really an incentive to visit rogue or otherwise unregulated casinos.
The latest stipulation regarding the handling of player funds is just one of many licensing conditions the UKGC has put in place to ensure the safety of all players. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission also has rules that dictate how operators can advertise their platforms.
Of course, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission’s work is never done. Web, mobile, and gaming technologies continue to evolve at breakneck speed. The UKGC recently outlined plans to tackle bots, or automated software programs that unethical players use to play practically perfect poker.
The UKGC is also developing new rules to govern betting on widely popular e-sports and other forms of social gaming. With a recent announcement that licensed sites can freely accept digital and cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, the UKGC has exhibited that they are well equipped to handle whatever the future might hold. It’s comforting to see that the commission hasn’t placed undue burdens on honest players, even as their mandate require them to stamp out money laundering.
In a nutshell, the recent legal changes in the UK have proved extremely beneficial for British players. Although operators now have to jump through a few more hoops than they used to, the end result is a safer environment and, therefore, a more prosperous experience for everyone. From the perspective of players, these changes are completely positive.
Given the overall success of online gambling in the United Kingdom, it’s no surprise that nations all over the planet look in our direction for guidance. As a player, it’s comforting to know you’ll have ample protections in place whenever you enjoy your favourite games. It’s hard to deny that playing with confidence is always infinitely more fun.