UK Players: What the UKGC Changes Mean To You!

UK Gambling CommissionLike myself, I am sure many of you UK players will have received e-mails in the last 2 months from casinos you are registered with with one of 3 messages:

We will not be taking UK players after 1st. of November 2014 – account terminated but you can log in and withdraw any funds for a set period.

We will still take your play, but are tranferring (migrating) you account to another of our brands.

We have applied for/have been issued with a UK licence and you are unaffected.

So, what’s this all about? Well, partly due to player protection factors and partly for taxation purposes (okay, okay MAINLY for taxation purposes!) the UKGC has changed the “LCCP’S” (the ‘Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice’).

This means that any site, whether operated from or licensed outside the UK or not, needs a UK licence to continue taking our money. Revenues from UK players will be liable to taxation (paid for by the casinos, not us!) but be aware this will NOT mean the games offered pay out less – or at least, it shouldn’t because the games themselves have to be licenced to operate within an RTP band.

Rest assured all the big reputable brands like 32Red and Sky Vegas (the two I currently play most) along with all the established bookmaker-brands have applied, as have some lesser-known but very reputable offshore sites like Guts and Bet-at to name a couple. So, when you come across sites like those who are licensed in Malta for example, don’t be concerned as they will have obtained the UK licence too. If you like Novomatic for example, you’ll notice Quasar Gaming have dropped the UK players. The casinos have simply made a business decision as to whether it pays them to continue their UK business.

So are there any benefits for us players? Well, you’ll probably notice no change in the casino itself, but behind the scenes there has been more stringent enforcing of ‘ringfencing’ player funds – this aims to avoid cases of players losing out in the event of a casino folding like the infamous Purple Lounge fiasco, despite supposedly having ringfencing under an overseas jurisdiction, in this case Malta.

There have been some smaller considerations, such as reversal periods, autoplay options and software checks. As well as casinos themselves, software providers are also accountable if used by the UK players. You can check whether a casino has a UK licence here if you have doubts that you are playing at a legitimate site. There will be casinos that are not on the list that will take your UK Pounds but you should proceed with caution as always!

But as much as UK licence purportedly offers an extra level of protection to players, you could argue that it doesn’t go far enough. For example a number of Playtech casinos won’t pay a large network jackpot win out in one go and instead impose small monthly limits, despite receiving the whole amount by Playtech. Unfortunately it appears these sites can still do this with a UK licence.

To summarize, it appears that the UKGC is starting to take on board the concerns of the people who support the industry viz-a-viz us the players. As is usual with anything the government touches, it will happen slowly and with mistakes and of course with little input from the most knowledgeable group – the US, who are a nation in transition when it comes to gambling regulation!