The UK has one of the world’s most significant online casino sectors. In fact, it is arguably considered the global leader in the industry, with companies like Playtech and several gaming firms listed on the FTSE 100 and 250. But that leadership also comes through regulation, which is overseen by the UK Gambling Commission. Where the UKGC leads, other regulatory bodies around the world tend to follow – eventually.
But when it comes to the minutiae of details when registering at an online casino, depositing and withdrawing winnings, there can be some confusion as to what your rights are and if you have obligations. If you look at casino player forums, this is the most common grievance – confusion. Below we want to look at some of those areas, making clear what has been set out by the UKGC and how responsible casino operators implement and interpret the UKGC’s policies.
Know your customer (KYC)
The UKGC is pushing for the UK casino industry to be the world leader in KYC. The idea and its goals are simple – stop fraud and money laundering, and ensure that the person playing can afford to gamble. If you are a casual player, spending a few quid each month – there is little to worry about. Provide your ID and proof of address on registration, and you will be verified very quickly. If you want to spend thousands as a high roller, well, the UKGC will want you to provide proof of income. It has the dual purpose of stopping fraud and problem gambling. Some might feel this is intrusive, but most believe the means justify the end.
Deposit and withdrawals
The best and most trusted casinos have clear guidelines over withdrawals and deposits. A withdrawal policy is simply an outline of how long it will take to be processed (1-3 days usually), when it will be paid and why it might not be paid. For the latter, you won’t have to worry – if you win a jackpot at a licensed casino, you will get the money. But if there are inconsistencies – evidence of cheating, fraud, etc. – then the casino has the right to investigate. As for deposits, it’s fairly simple. However, we would warn you that casinos that accept cryptocurrency are going to have trouble implementing KYC, and thus they will not have a licence from the UKGC.
Almost every casino will offer bonuses, particularly when you sign up for the first time. Some don’t even require a deposit. Let’s be clear here: There is always going to be some small print attached to it. Normally, this comes in two areas – wagering requirements and max win caps. The former means you will have to wager the bonus money a specific number of times before it can be withdrawn. The latter refers to the maximum amount you can win with bonus funds. Casinos are obliged by the UKGC to make these terms clear, and they are definitely worth reading before you accept the bonus terms. If you can’t get your head around the fact that it’s not “free money” – as most experienced players do – then you can learn how to use a bonus wisely.
The UKGC licence
If you are in the UK and playing at a casino that does not hold a licence from the UKGC, then you are flirting with disaster. The UKGC ensures that the casino operator is acting with integrity, and that includes the testing of games and software for fairness. It also ensures that you have certain rights in the unlikely event of a dispute and, for instance, protecting your deposits if the company goes bust. As set out in the 2005 Gambling Act, a casino must have a UKGC licence to operate legally in the UK. Policing the internet is not easy, and many sites operate without a UKGC licence. Players play at these sites at their own risk.