The UK online gambling industry provides a multitude of remote wagering options for UK residents. Being one of the very first countries to legalize online gambling with comprehensive legislation, the UK also has one of the most developed frameworks for regulating internet betting in the world. The following selection of sites have been rated by our editors and player community, and deemed the top UK online gambling destinations of 2016.
Regulating UK Online Gambling
The overriding legislation that governs online gambling in the UK is the Gambling Act 2005. Charged with its enforcement, the Gambling Commission oversees all aspects of licensing and ongoing regulation of licensees. Online casino operators are extensively vetted by the Commission, as are B2B companies (namely, software providers) and other licensing authorities in the European region.
UK Casino Software
The software platform that powers an online casino is key to delivering a safe, fair and entertaining internet betting experience. The Gambling Commission imposes many technical standards and security requirements upon software providers. Known as the Remote Gambling and Software Technical Standards (RTS), they cover a vast range of software functionality, including hand result determination, transaction display, auto-play functionality, interrupted gambling procedures, time-critical events and customer account information just to name a few.
Casino software is vitally important for ensuring a safe and fair hand. So much so, that software providers must also obtain a separate license from the Gambling Commission. All software providers are required to have obtained a certification from an approved software testing facility, meeting or exceeding the RTS. The Gambling Commission maintains a list of approved houses, some of the more well-known being eCOGRA, BMM Test Labs, Gaming Labs International, Gaming Associates and iTech Labs.
There are over 250 approved software platforms currently. Some of the more well-known online gambling UK licensed platforms (many of which are profiled at Online.Gambling.org, include 888 Holdings, Amaya, Microgaming, NetEnt, BetFair, Playtech, OpenBet and Gamesys.
The Gambling Commission enforces the Gambling Act 2005 Codes of Practice, which mandates that all gambling is conducted in an open and fair manner, while minimal requirements are being met to protect minors and vulnerable bettors. Working closely with the Department for Culture Media and Sport, eCOGRA, the Competitions Markets Authority, Responsible Gambling Strategy Board and problem gambling agencies such as GambleAware and GamCare, the Gambling Commission upholds the highest responsible gambling standards in the world. To date, the Gambling Commission has revoked 12 licenses, undertaken over 1,300 compliance visits, and maintains a License Register that shows any prior regulatory action taken upon licensees.
Under guidelines issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Gambling Commission also maintains a jurisdictional “whitelist” that allows betting companies with valid licenses to advertise to UK residents. This includes operators licensed in European Economic Area countries and the regulatory jurisdictions of Alderney, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Antigua and Barbuda and Tasmania. In order to preserve the integrity of the whitelist, the Gambling Commission is no longer accepting applications for additional jurisdictions.
Initially pulling statistics from the British Gambling Prevalence Surveys, the Gambling Commission now undertakes data collection and analysis. Participation in gambling and problem gambling statistics for 2015 show that 14% of British adults participate in online gambling and 0.6% were classified as problem gamblers. Additional Gambling Commission findings can be viewed here.
If you are interested in learning more about the Gambling Act 2005, online gambling UK regulations, authorized jurisdictions or to search the licensee registry for valid licenses, the UK Gambling Commission website offers a wealth of information to read through.