I wish to gamble online. Is there anything which I need to be aware of?

Gambling Act 2005

Gambling within the UK is regulated by the Gambling Act 2005 which since its inception has simplified the process for people who wish to gamble.

There is no longer any red take as players who wish to gamble can simply sign up online or walk into a casino and start gambling.

I heard that you needed to wait 24 hours?

The previous legislation had a requirement that you could only start gambling in a casino 24 hours after you had signed up to become a member. This has now been abolished by the 2005 act. This qualification however was never in place in relation to online gambling as it was only concerned with gambling in casinos meaning that anyone could sign up and start gambling online.

What else has the Gambling Act 2005 established?

Casinos based in the UK

The Gambling Act 2005 now enables online casinos to be based in the UK although given the tax advantages of places such as Gibraltar it is however unlikely that many of them will relocate back to the UK.

The Gambling Commission

The Gambling Act 2005 established the Gambling Commission which has been put in place to regulate commercial gambling in the UK. The Gambling commission is a non-departmental public body (NDPB) which is sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The Gambling Commission has the following functions:

  • Publication of guidance and advice

  • Licensing, compliance and enforcement

  • Research

The Gambling Commission and Online Gambling

All operators of remote gambling, i.e. online gambling, telephone gambling are required under the Gambling Act 2005 to be licensed. The licence does not depend on whether the operator is providing gambling online but is in relation to the specific activities that they provide online. A separate licence will be required for each of the following activities:

  • Betting

  • Bingo

  • Casino games

  • Gambling software

  • Lottery games

Do gambling websites abroad have to be licensed?

Gambling websites which do not have their remote equipment based in the UK will not have to be licensed by the Gambling Commission.

What if their products are being advertised in the UK?

If the online gambling products from websites based outside of the UK are being advertised within the UK the website must be based in one of the whitelisted countries or a country mentioned in the Gambling Act 2005. The following countries are included within this list:

  • EEA Countries

  • Alderney

  • Antigua and Barbuda

  • Gibraltar

  • Isle of Man

  • Tasmania

This effectively means that any online gambling websites will come under the scope of the Gambling Commission and you will therefore be provided with protection when dealing with them.

Do I need a licence to use online gambling websites?

You do not need a licence to use any form of online gambling website. In order to be safer online when using such websites it is recommended that you read the guidance provided for by the Gambling Commission.

Conditions imposed on Licensees and Codes of Practice

Conditions imposed on licensees

Conditions can be imposed on the grant of a licence by the Gambling Commission in one of the following four ways:

  1. General licence conditions can be applied to an individual operating licence or a class of operating licence – for example all betting operating licences

  2. Individual licence conditions can be applied to an individual operating licence – this will often address matters concerning an individual operator and their activities

  3. Conditions can be imposed by the Secretary of State to a class of operating licence

  4. Statutory conditions can be imposed to a class of operating licence.

Again the imposition of these conditions upon the grant of an operating licence serves to provide you with more protection while using online gambling websites.

Codes of Practice

Under Section 24 of the Gambling Act 2005 the Gambling Commission issues codes of practice concerning the manner in which facilities for gambling are provided to ensure the following:          

  • That gambling is conducted in a fair and open way

  • That children and other vulnerable people are protected from being harmed or exploited by gambling websites

  • That assistance is made available to people who are, or may be, affected by problems related to gambling

Each and every licence who has been provided with a gambling licence by the Gambling Commission must comply with the codes of practice produced by the Gambling Commission serving to protect the British public who wish to use online gambling websites.