The UKGC is a topic that is often touched upon in gaming and Bingo blogs. After all, they are the gatekeepers of British Bingo, protecting players, keeping operators in line, and ensuring that all UK-based gambling is fair.
It’s no easy task ensuring that all UK sites are up to date with the latest regulations and following the Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice (which come as part of the licencing package, if you missed our blog on how the UKGC protects players– catch it here for more detail on exactly what the LCCPs cover). Especially, as the UK is a gambling hub with hundreds of licenced online and offline operators. So how exactly does the UKGC ensure safe gambling in the UK, and what happens when an operator goes rogue?
Let’s take a look!
Bingo Site and Software Audits
Every UK licensed gambling operator must submit to regular site audits to ensure that they operate in line with all the rules and regulations set out by the UKGC. These cover every area of operations, including the software used, and test for fairness.
Audits are undertaken by a games testing lab. Most gambling operators in the UK opt to stay ahead of the curve and use testing labs regularly to ensure they have no issues with compliance. This is the best practice as licensing conditions can change and often do. It is the responsibility of the operator to ensure they are on top of their game. For example, in late 2019, Know Your Customer checks were an added requirement to the LCCPs. All operators had to comply, implementing a new customer age screening tool, within a certain time period.
But, what happens when operators go rogue? Either accidentally, or in a more dubious manner, straying outside of the all-important Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice?
UKGC Power and Sanctions: What Can They Do?
The UKGC audits all operators that they licence. Whether it is for the provision of software or to run an online casino- everything undergoes thorough testing.
When a gambling site is found to be breaking the rules, then UKGC has a range of sanctions to hand and is not afraid to come down heavy on any operator. Thus ensuring that it is clear to all, non-compliance with UK gambling rules and regulation is not accepted.
1. Financial Sanctions: For first-time offences (and those less serious) the UKGC will firstly investigate further. They will then make their decision over the financial penalty to be levied on the operator (including any payouts or compensation owed to players). What’s more, the fine will include the cost of the investigation that the UKGC has conducted.
2. Licence Suspension: For continued flouting of UKGC laws and operating regulations, the UKGC will simply revoke a licence making it illegal for the operator to offer their services in the UK.
2019: The Biggest Year for Mind-Blowing Fines
The UKGC is certainly not shy to show off their powers and levy suitably impressive fines for offences. There were some monumental fines given out in 2019. A year where one operator lost their licence and another three paid a total of £14m to the UKGC. All four operators were found to have compliance issues with the protection of players and anti-money laundering systems- both serious breaches- with one operator, in particular, barring the brunt of this sum with a fine totalling over £7m.
If you’ve ever worried about whether a UK Bingo site is fixed or rigged, the answer is; it’s simply not possible due to the comprehensive system of checks and audits in place. If an operator does try something even slightly fishy, then they’ll find themselves in seriously hot water with the UKGC or left without a licence and in most cases sites chose compliance.
We should highlight around about here that more often than not, operators and the UKGC work together to establish land-mark industry regulations. For example, did you know that it was gambling operators (888 and Microgaming) who called for the establishment of games testing and helped create eCOGRA, (one of the UK’s most well-known and trusted iGaming labs) not the UKGC? This is just one of many examples that show how committed UK operators and the whole UK industry is to fair and transparent gaming and is what makes the UK one of the safest places for online gamblers to play.