UK Online Casinos
Gambling is very popular throughout the world, although governments have differing attitudes and take different approaches to regulating gambling within its authority, which has always included land-based gambling but has now extended into the gambling that goes on in the virtual world as well.
In many locales, gambling is prohibited outright, although try as they may, governments can’t stop it. People still gamble in even the most restrictive countries, and especially now that online gambling is now available to anyone with access to the internet.
The opposite end of this spectrum is the United Kingdom, the world’s largest regulated gambling market and the world’s best regulated as well. The UK is truly the Shangri-La of online casino gambling, but to ensure you’re getting the most out of your play, you do require an expert guide.
The UK is As Gambling Friendly as They Come
Gambling in the United Kingdom has been very popular for centuries, and the closest they have come to prohibiting it was with the Unlawful Gaming Act of 1541, which did make gambling illegal but wasn’t even ever enforced, although it did prevent people from getting court judgements to collect gambling debts.
As the years went by, the government became more involved in its regulation, starting with the Gaming Act of 1845, which explicitly legalized it and started to provide some oversight to better protect players. This tradition continues today and they are still making improvements in regulation, and all of this is designed to make gambling as transparent and fair as possible.
As has been the case everywhere, the emergence of online gambling has made gambling regulation more challenging, whether you welcome gambling with open arms as the UK does, or you wish to outlaw it. UK authorities realized early on that they needed separate regulation for online gambling sites, and the Gambling Act of 2005 was born.
The focus of this and other forms of gambling regulation throughout the UK’s long history with this has been on promoting fair play, protecting players as much as possible by providing an intermediary between operators and their customers. This tradition not only carried over to this new bill but became even more of a focus given the unique relationship that players had with online gambling sites, the combination of the ease that players could now gamble together with the lack of oversight at the time that regulators provided.
One of the things that UK regulators well understood that hasn’t been the case so much elsewhere is to realize the proper scope of their regulations, which always only apply to those under its legal power. The 2005 bill therefore only applied to operators located within the UK, and set out a set of robust regulations that both protected players from inappropriate conduct and offered a very effective means of redress whenever they are not treated fairly.
There are certainly some huge advantages involved in playing at an online casino where the regulator is located in your country and the casinos that you play at are licensed by them, with a local regulator that is both passionate and very effective in making sure that you are treated properly. This is as good as it gets as far as player protection goes, and the UK has well lived up to being the gold standard that they seek to be in gaming regulation.
The UK Ups Their Regulatory Game in A Big Way in 2016
While the 2005 Gambling Act applied to a lot of online gambling sites, online sites licensed elsewhere continued to serve the UK market, as they were outside the scope of this law since they were located outside the reach of UK authorities.
What countries do in these cases is to allege that these offshore operators are under their control and seek to make it illegal for these sites to offer play to their residents. Unfortunately, this does not involve any legal power, and serves as just an international request, and has offshore operators choosing between pleasing the UK government by complying, or pleasing themselves and their players by ignoring these requests.
The United States is particularly famous for this, even going as far as obtaining indictments against foreign persons who are found to violate U.S. laws even though they are in no way subject to them. Many other countries do this, and this can result in some operators being scared away, but there will always be plenty of them who simply don’t care and prefer to do business according to the laws of the countries where they are located and not give in to foreign laws that do not apply to them.
This is not the road that the UK Gambling Commission chose to take though, who instead offered licenses to the offshore companies that were competing with their domestically licensed online sites, provided that these offshore gambling sites complied with their more protective rules.
These offshore sites were not just asked to give in to this, as they could have just ignored it like they had been doing for years, but this new scheme was structured to benefit both these operators and their UK players, not only offering their UK players a more robust and effective regulatory framework that was run out of the UK instead of in another country, it also offered the benefits of their promoting their sites more openly through advertising and promotion with the encouragement of the Gambling Commission.
This attracted the best of what the world has to offer in terms of online gambling, including the best online casino sites out there, and by expanding the market like this, this also served to make the UK online gambling market more competitive, where more and bigger sites are now fighting to win the business of UK online punters.
The 2016 amendments have been an unqualified success and have taken UK online casino gambling to the pinnacle, and in fact has raised the height of the pinnacle substantially. They also changed the online gambling landscape worldwide, by requiring that their licensees refrain from offering play in countries where the local laws prohibit it, deemed to be blacklisted countries.
Sites then had to choose between getting a very valuable UK license and continuing to allow players from countries that do not permit online gambling, and many chose the more lucrative market of the UK. This caused these operators to pull out of some markets that they formerly served, to the chagrin of the players affected, although there are still plenty left to fill the void that do not have a UK license and prefer to serve whatever country they want, and see their business expand as a result with these fields being thinned now.
The UK Gambling Commission Continue to Make Improvements
Just having the world’s finest gambling regulation has not been enough for the UK Gambling Commission, as they continue to work hard to make things even better for players. A good example of this was with a further amendment in 2018, addressing the contentious practice of operators placing further identification requirements on casino players that seek to make withdrawals, a process which can be difficult for some players and at least serves to discourage withdrawals.
There are anti-money regulations involved, but what was happening is that operators had been choosing not to go to this trouble of obtaining ID unless they had to, and making a withdrawal was a point where it was required. The new regulation now requires operators to disclose these requirements up front in a much more transparent way and also obtain the required ID earlier in the relationship if possible, serving to make the interaction between players and sites smoother and more predictable.
Not all the regulations are designed to be enabling, as the UK Gaming Commission also works hard to protect minors as well as helping protect players against themselves, and give more than lip service to problem gambling.
In 2020, it was decided that credit cards would no longer be allowed to make deposits at UK licensed online gambling sites, although this really isn’t a concern among players who wish to use their own money to gamble, and even without being able to use a credit card, the number of ways to fund an online casino account is still the envy of the world.
The idea behind this rule was to prevent players who do not have sufficient control of their urges to play these very entertaining games from racking up a lot of debt, and the potential for abuse is certainly higher if someone who cannot stop themselves ends up maxing out their credit cards and see their addiction punish them even more.
The UK Gambling Commission is truly about taking care of the players under their wing and have really taken gambling regulation to a whole new level. Now that the UK online casino market has attracted the best sites in the world, online casino gambling simply does not get better than it is right now in the UK.
Choosing Between All the Great UK Online Casinos Out There
We might think that with all the great sites that you can play on in the UK, and with the world’s best regulator weeding out the garbage and only allowing the most trustworthy sites, which they keep a constant eye on to ensure that they are treating their players the right way, that it would be very easy to find an appropriate online casino to play at.
It is very easy to find an appropriate site, as they all meet the minimum requirements, but this does not mean that they all provide identical experiences. Online casinos still differ significantly in their quality even though they may meet or exceed the standards of honesty we require any online casino that we wish to play at to satisfy.
UK licensed online casino sites differ in quality just like online casinos that are licensed elsewhere do. You may actually miss out on more by just randomly selecting a UK online casino than you may elsewhere, because among the UK licensed casinos include the world’s best, the ones that stand out the most above the average casino site.
There’s a lot more that goes behind a great online casino besides being completely safe, as this is no consolation when you are stuck with playing casino games of a lesser quality than you could be playing if you were on a better site, or settling for only modestly good bonuses or rewards or customer service or all of the other things that make great sites great when you are playing at even a merely good one.
Keeping online casino players as happy as possible isn’t on the list of criteria for getting an online casino license in the UK, but it is on our list, right at the top in fact. It all comes down to the quality of your experience playing at an online site, and we are happy to lend our expertise and our top recommendations to all that want to have as much fun as possible playing casino games online.
UK Online Casinos FAQ
- Is it legal to play online casino games in the UK?
In a lot of places, whether it is legal or not to play casino games online may not be all that clear. Some countries make it explicitly illegal to gamble online, in others it may not be so clear, and in others they may make it illegal for operators to offer online play but have no law against their residents doing it. It doesn’t get any more legal to play online casino games than it gets in the UK, and this being completely legal would sum it up, as legal as it could possibly get.
- Are UK licensed online casinos safe?
The UK Gambling Commission has worked very hard to give new meaning to the safety of playing casino games online. Their standards for granting licenses is the highest in the entire world. They then ensure that these licensed casinos live up to both their reputation and the very high expectations of the Gambling Commission, which is even higher than those of players. Any disputes can be taken to your own government, who hold great power over all licensed casinos, to make sure UK players are treated the right way at all times.
- Are UK licensed sites of a good enough quality to want to play there?
The very strict licensure process and requirements have the UK Gambling Commission looking under every rock to make sure that they only permit online sites who are completely beyond reproach. If they offer play in countries that may not allow online casinos themselves, that alone makes them unwelcome in the UK even though this has nothing to do with UK gambling. This very strong oversight weeds out all operators whose reputation is even questioned, and if their casinos are not of a high enough quality, they just aren’t allowed in the game.
- Does the UK’s strict regulation mean that we can just select any of them?
Even having all the sites that you let offer casino play to your residents of high quality doesn’t mean that there aren’t some that are very high quality or of exceptional high quality alongside just the high-quality ones. This is where we come in, to take this stable of thoroughbreds and pick the best of the bunch for you, to make sure that you get the most out of your online play at UK casinos, and not just settle for merely a good experience.
- Should we become concerned that UK online casinos no longer accept credit cards?
As easy as depositing with credit cards are, there are other methods that are easy as well that you can also use to withdraw your winnings if you hit it big and want to enjoy the spoils. Credit cards don’t allow for money to be put back on them besides returning your initial deposit, and therefore can’t ever be used for winnings. There are several other great deposit options, like internet wallets, that you can still make a deposit at with your credit card if you like and then have them send your money over, and give you an easy way to cash out as well.
- Does UK online casino regulation exclude a lot of top sites like in some other countries?
The UK gambling market is the big time, the major leagues for online casino operators, and the biggest and best lined up to get a license when they were first offered. Many big sites even made concessions by pulling out of markets to make UK regulators happy. In a lot of countries, you have to go outside your country’s regulatory framework to play at the best online casinos, but in the UK, the best are already on board with complete government approval.
- What can UK online casino players do if they are not satisfied with a UK online casino?
To demonstrate how seriously the UK Gambling Commission takes player complaints, they created an alternative dispute resolution scheme where complaints are decided by trusted, knowledgeable, and fair independent parties who have no stake in the outcome and are only limited to doing what is right. Players can contact the Commission 24 hours a day with their concerns and can be confident that their situation will be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
- Do licensed UK online casinos maintain the high standards their license requires?
It is not enough to meet the very high standards that the UK Gambling Commission puts forth to get licensed with them, licensees also have to ensure they continue to meet these standards. Operators know that they need to continue to treat their players with value and respect if they plan on continuing to offer play to the UK market. If and when they step over the line, the Commission is at the ready to ensure they correct whatever is lacking.
- Can you play the latest and greatest casino games at UK online casinos?
While a lot of the better online casino sites have moved from the old and crusty business model of just offering games from a single supplier to selecting the best from among all the companies that make online casino software, sites still differ in the quality of their games. Some sites offer software from more companies, some focus better on the ones that make software that players love more, and some just end up selecting better games from among the potential choices. At the right UK casino, the ones we recommend, you can play the best of the best.
- Do UK online casinos offer good bonuses and rewards to their players?
The quality of bonuses and rewards to players mostly falls outside the regulatory framework, although regulators do still ensure that you get what you are promised and are not tricked into not being able to take your money out like you see at more questionable online casinos. Beyond that, UK online casinos differ in both their generosity and how easy or difficult it is to earn bonuses and rewards. We pick the sites that make their players happy, not disappointed.
Suzie Adams, Associate Writer: Suzie has extensive experience writing on a number of different topics, but writing on slots remains her first love, and it really shows.