The UK Gambling Commission is the regulatory body for gambling in Great Britain, and the name you want to look for when checking if a betting site is licensed. They’re also much more than that, providing a framework for the incredibly high standards found in UK Gambling. In this guide, we’ll be going through everything you need to know to understand them, alongside our picks for top three licensed UK bookmakers.
Top Recommended Betting Sites with a UK Gambling License
Ideal for casual bettors and experts alikeAmazing streaming selectionArguably the best horse racing betting site in the world
T&Cs APPLY, 18+ ONLY
New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £20. Only deposits made using cards or Apple Pay will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply. Paddy’s Rewards Club: Get a £10 free bet when you place 5x bets of £10+. T&Cs apply. #ad
Near perfect all rounderImmense sports varietyUnbeatable reputation
T&Cs APPLY, 18+ ONLY
Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. #ad
Fantastic promotional quality and varietyGreat pick for bet boostsWide variety of account customisations
T&Cs APPLY, 18+ ONLY
New Customers opt in, bet £5 & get 2x £10 Free Bets for set events (odds 2.00+) + £10, Slots Bonus, selected games, 20x wagering to withdraw max £250. Bonuses expire in 7 days. Card Payments only. Additional terms for existing BetVictor customers apply. T&Cs Apply, see below. 18+ | begambleaware.org | Please gamble responsibly. #ad
Top 3 Bookies with UKGC
What is the UK Gambling Commission?
The UK Gambling Commission supervise and regulate just about everything gambling related in the United Kingdom, from sports betting to casino gambling, even covering everything from bingo betting to lotteries. The only exception out of their jurisdiction is spread betting. Other than that, everything that is legal in terms of gambling in the UK is so after going through their incredibly high standards.
From your perspective, if you’ve heard of them, it will be through licensing. They’re indeed the public body which provides licenses to establishments which have followed their incredible strict criteria. Make no mistake, they’re considered one of the toughest regulatory bodies in the whole world of gambling. So much so that there have been some attempts to make them less strict because their yardsticks are so very high. Not only can you rest assured if a site is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission that they are legal and legitimate, but they have passed some incredibly tough criteria to receive a license.
In being so strict, the Gambling Commission UK don’t just hand out licenses, they create the framework for what is acceptable business practices in the UK. Furthermore, they also provide advice to both business and users, with everything from how to complain about an issue to compliance to UK Gambling Commission loot boxes advice, while researching ways to continue to make gambling in the UK as safe as possible for many years to come. You can get additional advice through the website. This is used instead of a UK Gambling Commission phone number or UK Gambling Commission email.
Their UKGC aim to keep crime out of gambling, ensuring that all gambling is fair and protecting young people and the vulnerable: the latter point being key to the vital focus responsible gaming has in the UK. And their work is truly never done.
In the future, we may see their work even further complicated by the possibility of data sharing across operators to reduce the harm of problem gambling: something which has been heavily suggested by the UK Gambling Minister, as well as updates in UK Gambling Commission technical standards. They do hand out licenses, but that is only one end of their immense scope of work.
Examples of Actions by the UK Gambling Commission
Since the Gambling Commission inception under the 2005 Gambling Act – and finally fully taking over the Gaming Board for Great Britain in 2007 – their work is constant. Just check out their recent work on their homepage to see just how much they work through any given month. Of course, we’re sure there’s plenty more behind the scenes not published. That said, to give you some examples of the magnitude of their importance, we felt it pertinent to provide some examples of key actions they have taken over the years. Again, this merely scratches the surface of the kind of work they conduct.
Credit Card Ban
In April 2020, the Gambling Commission announced that as of the 14th April that year there would be a ban on businesses in Great Britain being allowed to accept credit cards for the purposes of gambling. This came after a long period of research and a public consultation. There are many alternatives for credit cards available in the UK.
Requiring Online Retailers to Participate in GAMSTOP
Another measure recently adopted to help deal with problem gambling was the requirement for gambling sites licensed in the UK to participate in multi-operator exclusion scheme GAMSTOP. This makes it easier for those who wish to stop gambling to do unilaterally. Both this and the credit card ban are examples of the UK Gambling Commission going further than most other license providers in understanding problem gambling and encouraging responsible gaming.
For those of you who didn’t know, the Camelot Group run the National Lottery in the UK: something which has also been under the supervision of the UK Gambling Commission since 2013. In 2016, they were fined £3,000,000 by the UKGC for failing to verify a fake lottery ticket in 2009. It was found that this was part of a fraud between a member of the public and a Camelot employee and they claimed a £2.5 million prize with the fraudulent ticket.
The Criteria of the UK Gambling Commission
Considering the Gambling Commission UK is one of the strictest regulators in the world, it’s no surprise to learn that their criteria for getting and keeping a license is incredibly tough. It’s a process of constant assessment, of always checking and double checking that operators are behaving to the highest levels of responsibility.
Every site is different, and from money laundering to UK Gambling Commission advertising rules, the cases which are presented to them are often nuanced and complicated. However, what guides the criteria of the UK Gambling Commission register always comes down to three key principles. These include:
Making sure all gambling is conducted in way which is both transparent and fair. This is rather a broad statement, but some practical examples include that the ownership is not kept in secret and that any gambling operation has sufficient funds before getting a license, to ensure that winners never fail to get paid. Ensuring separate player funds is another example of keeping the user experience both fair and safe, alongside utilising encryption and data protection.
Preventing gambling from being used as a source of crime. This is another example of why transparent ownership is so important and why the anti-money-laundering criteria is also extremely strict. The background of the operator applying for the license is also checked and is a vital part of ensuring that gambling funds are never used as a source for crime or laundering.
Preventing the harm of children and vulnerable people. All betting sites in the UK must have measures in place to prevent underage people from using their site, such as an identity verification processes. This also helps prevent fraud.
There’s also UK Gambling Commission technical standards that must be adhered to, which is regularly updated to keep up to date with technology. Some examples of new technical requirements include rules regarding the display of transactions, time requirements and reality checks, alongside responsible product design and auto-play functionality. All this is to ensure the operator is competent in the key three criteria stated above.
Benefits of a UK Gambling Commission License
In general, the benefits of having the UK Gambling Commission license are easy to understand. Aside from the three key criteria mentioned above, they make it clear that a site is both safe and legal. If a betting site doesn’t have a license from the UK Gambling Commission, then it cannot be considered legal in the UK. However, it’s not the only benefit of such a license. Here’s a magnificent seven selection of things we considered key positives beyond the basics.
Ensures that the betting site you’re using has the funds to pay you should your bets be successful
They can be considered objectively fair. In other words, they’re offering you a reasonable, clear way of winning.
A UK Gambling Commission license also means your sensitive financial and personal data is kept safe from cybercriminals
There is adequate support and tools to help you gamble responsible. Furthermore, the use of GAMCARE now helps enforce self-imposed
restrictions across a wide variety of operators.
You can also rest assured that the money spent on these sites isn’t going towards any illegitimate practises.
You have a clear path of complaint should an operator behave in a way you feel is illegal or against the criteria set out by the UK Gambling
Helps you quickly and easily understand what operators are legally available in the UK, as opposed to other international jurisdictions.
How to Check for a License
Any good betting site will wear its UK Gambling Commission license proudly and will likely back that up with a solid reputation, meaning that checking for license and legitimacy should never be especially complicated. However, if you’re unsure, here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what you can do:
Step One: Look on the Betting Site
Usually, information on the license is found on the bottom of the page of any decent operator. If it’s not there, you can ask customer service if they have information on their license, but this would usually not be needed and is quite unusual. In fact, it may warrant further investigation, which leads us to our next step.
Step Two: Check for an Account Link
Often, next to license information, the bookmaker will provide you with a link to their licensing information. If you click on this link, it should take you to the UK Gambling Commission website (Note: Do check that the link is indeed taking you to the UKGC website before proceeding, as links on websites you aren’t sure about can be a source of harm to your device). This should then give you all the information you need to confirm the license.
Step Three (if needed): Put in the Account Number Manually
If there is no link, then you should still be able to get an account number. If there is no account number nor any other clarifying information to be found, it’s best to veer on the side of caution and assume their credentials are illegitimate. If there is an account number, you can go to the Licensee hub and check the gambling business license by adding the account number. Sometimes the name of the business will work as well. This should confirm or deny the license status of any operator you’re interested in.
Non-Licensed Betting Sites
We’ll be blunt here and say point blank that unlicensed betting sites are a great danger to you and your finances. Our policy is to never recommend any site that doesn’t meet the highest expectations of security, and having a proper license is the absolute minimum of those standards.
However, it’s worth noting that non-licensed betting sites often don’t have a license for different reasons. They could, for instance, have simply decided that the UK market isn’t for them but be viewed as entirely secure and respectable elsewhere. Here’s a breakdown of some well-known examples with reasons so you can get some context of why this may be the case: