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Iceni Magazine | July 2, 2022

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What does the UKGC do?

What does the UKGC do?

As any of us might expect, regulation on the gambling industry has always been fairly strict.

The industry is closely monitored by government bodies, in order to ensure fairness and security for customers. The organization, in the UK, that monitors and regulates the gambling industry is the UKGC – but what do they actually do? Today, we’re going to look at some of the key roles of the UKGC, and how it executes them. Let’s get started.

  1. Licensing

The simplest and perhaps most important role of the UKGC is providing licenses to companies offering betting services. Currently, the UKGC has issued licenses to around 2,400 operators, many of which are UK online betting sites, offering a great deal more individual games. If operators do not have a license, then they are not operating legally.

Licensing is a simple way for consumers to make sure that the site they are betting with is abiding by all the rules and regulations laid out by the UKGC. With online betting, it has become much easier to set up illegal and unregulated betting sites, which only exist to steal customer’s money or data.

Without a simple system of licensing enforced by an official body, customers would be at much greater risk from illicit practices.

  1. Regulation

But those licenses do not give operators free reign to do whatever they wish. Another role of the UKGC is to create the regulations by which operators must abide. These regulations take a wide variety of forms and are constantly being updated, but there are a few key areas that are always under scrutiny.

One, for instance, is advertising. The UKGC is responsible for advising businesses on how they can advertise their services within the law. Gambling advertising must be carried out in a socially responsible way and must not appeal to the underage.

They also enforce rules about games themselves, such as for fixed odds betting machines. There are hard limits on the stakes, both for physical betting machines and online fixed odds games.

As you can imagine, there are a great deal of regulations put in place by the UKGC, and these are only some examples. Broadly speaking, they are responsible for making the laws by which all betting companies must abide.

  1. Safeguarding

From this, then, we can see that the UKGC is essentially set up as a safeguard for consumers. Problem gambling is a problem in almost every nation on Earth. In the UK, it is a particularly bad problem. The average problem gambler is around £10,000 in debt before they seek help. The average Brit spends around £135 a year gambling.

Gambling operators have, in one way or another in the past, engaged in practices which sought to exploit such issues. Loyalty programs, for instance, are now coming under scrutiny as regulators feel they contribute to problem gamblers by further incentivising them to play more.

The UKGC seeks to safeguard consumers against these kinds of predatory practices. New research is always being carried out to identify the root causes of problem gambling, or at the very least things that exacerbate the problems. The GC needs to keep abreast of this research in order to maintain and update its laws accordingly—the process of safeguarding is an ongoing one at all times.

  1. Enforcement

Of course, ultimately, it would not be much use if the UKGC laid out its rules and regulations without any consequences for breaking them. The UKGC has fairly sweeping powers to enforce penalties on companies which do not abide by the rules.

For example, the penalty for providing gambling services and facilities without a license is up to 51 weeks in prison, or a level 5 fine. This is laid out in the Gambling Act of 2005. Level 5 fines are essentially unlimited, and for the biggest companies, these fines can be as high as £20 million, or 10% of their annual turnover.

For permitting or causing youths to access gambling services, or issuing advertising material to encourage underage gambling, companies can also face level 5 fines and up to 51 weeks imprisonment.

In all of these cases, the prosecuting authority is the UKGC. They are responsible for identifying, investigating, and ultimately prosecuting offending companies or individuals.

In order for these regulations to be taken seriously, they must come with significant penalties, and companies such as 888 have been fined as recently as March 2022. Many gambling operators are huge, multi-million pound companies, and so fines must be hefty to ensure full compliance.

The role of the UKGC is fairly broad, then, but all of their responsibilities fall under the spectrum of protecting the consumer from unethical practices. They lay out the rules that all betting companies are expected to follow, and they enforce punishments on those who don’t. From simple licenses to broad brush rules around things like advertising, the UKGC exists to ensure a fair relationship between bettor and operator.

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