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Gambling is a popular pastime in the United Kingdom, with millions of people regularly participating in various forms of betting, including sports betting, casino games, bingo and the lottery. According to a study done by Finder.com in March 2022, 43% of Brits had gambled money in some way or form during that month. That included 45% of males and 43% of females.
The UK gambling industry is regulated by the Gambling Commission, which was established in 2007 under the Gambling Act of 2005 to ensure that all gambling is conducted in a fair and open way. However, the Commission also recognises the potential harm that gambling can cause to some individuals, which is why it has put in place measures to help prevent problem gambling and ensure fair play.
In this article, we will take a closer look at how UK bookmakers ensure fair play and combat problem gambling. We will examine the various regulations that bookmakers must adhere to, the tools and resources available to help individuals with gambling problems and the ways in which bookmakers can help to prevent problem gambling from occurring in the first place.
The Gambling Commission has established strict regulations for all betting sites operating in the UK. These regulations are designed to ensure that all gambling is conducted fairly and transparently and to protect consumers from potentially being taken advantage of by operators.
Some of the key regulations that UK bookmakers must adhere to include:
All bookmakers must obtain a licence from the Gambling Commission before they can legally offer gambling services in the UK. This licence is only granted if the bookmaker can demonstrate that it has the necessary systems and controls in place to ensure that all gambling is conducted in a fair and open way.
We always recommend you check that a bookmaker has a licence with the UK Gambling Commission before betting with them. This information can often be found in the footer of the betting sites website.
For example, below is a screenshot from the Bet365 website with information of their UKGC licence.
Bookmakers must ensure that all customers are over the age of 18 as gambling is illegal for minors in the UK. They must also put in place measures to prevent minors from accessing their gambling services.
Online betting sites previously had 72 hours from the time a user registers an account to perform these checks but new regulations set down in 2019 now requires operators to confirm a customer is 18 or over before they can deposit funds or gamble.
These verifications checks, which also include the players’ name, address and date of birth, can often be done during the registration process but sometimes an operator may require documents such as a copy of a passport, driving licence and/or utility bill to complete them. The requesting of documents by online betting sites are sometimes seen by customers as bookmakers and casinos making it difficult for players to withdraw funds or place their bets. However, they are sometimes a requirement if the operator is to adhere to the rules set by the Gambling Commission.
Bookmakers must promote responsible gambling and provide information and tools to help customers make informed decisions about their gambling. They must also take steps to prevent problem gambling such as providing self-exclusion options and setting deposit limits.
Bookmakers must ensure that all gambling is conducted in a fair and open way and that all customers have a fair chance of winning. This includes using random number generators to ensure that the outcome of all games is truly random, and regularly auditing their games to ensure that they are fair and that customers are not being taken advantage of.
Players, especially those who play casino games, can sometimes have doubt about the legitimacy of a betting site when they go through a losing streak. Claims of cheating and fixed games aren’t uncommon by inexperienced players but if the operator is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission it’s extremely unlikely that they are rogue.
When a betting site has a UKGC license, it means that the site has been vetted and approved by the Commission and is considered safe and reliable for players to use. Of course, some betting sites are still better than others and there are ones to avoid. However, a betting site having a UKGC licence does provide a lot of security and benefits to the player.
Bettors who choose to place their bets with a betting site that is not licensed by the UKGC run a significant risk of being scammed or having their personal and financial information stolen. Overseas betting sites are not subject to the same strict regulations and standards as those licensed by the UKGC and as a result, they may not have adequate security measures in place to protect players’ sensitive information.
Also, betting sites that are not licensed by the UKGC do not have to follow the same code of conduct as those that are. This means that there may be no recourse for players if they experience any issues with their bets, such as disputes over winnings or incorrect odds.
Players within the UK can contact an organisation such as IBAS is they have a dispute that they are unable to resolve directly with a gambling operator such as a withheld withdrawal or issues with games. IBAS is an independent betting adjudication service which can provide assistance as a neutral third party in such cases.
Here at WhichBookie, we have reviewed hundreds of online bookmakers and casinos. You’ll find over 120 listed in our UK bookmaker reviews section and more in our UK casino reviews area. Every one of the betting sites that we list here on WhichBookie, whether we deem them to be good or not, have a licence from the Gambling Commission to operate within the UK.
Below, we’ve listed some of our highest-rated bookmakers with a UK licence. These bookies take responsible gambling seriously and provide various tools to help customers keep their betting habits under control as well as running regular gambling awareness campaigns.
|UK Licenced Bookmakers|
|LiveScore Bet Review|
|Virgin Bet Review|
|William Hill Review|
While the Gambling Commission’s regulations are designed to prevent problem gambling from occurring in the first place, there are still some individuals who may experience difficulties with their gambling. For these individuals, there are a number of tools and resources available to help them overcome their problems and regain control of their gambling habits. Some of these tools and resources include:
Many bookmakers offer a self-exclusion option, which allows individuals to ban themselves from accessing their gambling services for a set period of time. This can be a useful tool for individuals who are struggling to control their gambling habits and need a break from gambling to regain control.
Self exclusion periods are set by the user and can be anything from 1-2 days to a lifetime exclusion. During the self-exclusion period, the user will not be able to access their account or place bets.
Some betting sites allow customers to self-exclude from specific products. For example, they may choose to exclude themselves from the betting sites online casino but still be allowed to place sports bets. Not all betting sites have this option but it is a good tool for them offer.
Bookmakers can also offer deposit limits which allow customers to set a limit on how much they can deposit into their gambling account over a specified period. This can help to prevent individuals from spending more money on gambling than they can afford.
There are a number of organisations that offer support and advice to individuals with gambling problems. These organisations can provide counselling and support to help individuals overcome their gambling problems and regain control of their gambling habits.
While the Gambling Commission’s regulations and the tools and resources available for problem gambling are important for combating problem gambling, it is equally important for bookmakers to take proactive steps to prevent problem gambling from occurring in the first place. Some of the ways in which bookmakers can help to prevent problem gambling include:
Bookmakers can play a key role in educating their customers about responsible gambling and the potential harm that gambling can cause. This can include providing information on their websites and in their betting shops about the risks of gambling and the tools and resources available for individuals who are struggling with gambling problems.
The UK Gambling Commission has become more proactive with the issue of problem gambling in recent years which is why you may have noticed bookmakers promoting safer gambling on a much larger scale.
Bookmakers can also encourage responsible gambling by promoting healthy gambling habits and providing tools and resources to help customers make informed decisions about their gambling. This can include offering deposit limits, self-exclusion options and other responsible gaming tools.
Bookmakers can monitor their customers’ behaviour to identify any signs of problem gambling. This can include tracking their gambling activity and spending, and taking steps to intervene if they detect any concerning patterns of behaviour.
If a bookmaker notices that you are gambling more than you usually do, it’s possible that you may receive an email from them to make you aware of their findings and provide information on where you can get help should you need it.
If problem gambling is to continue to be reduced, it’s essential that the bookmakers collaborate with the Gambling Commission, problem gambling organisations such as GamCare & BeGambleAware and other industry bodies. By doing so, they can share possible solutions to any potential issues and concerns that they may have and continue to promote responsible gambling practices.
Bookmakers, like all businesses, aim to make a profit, but they want to do so in a manner that is not harmful to any of their customers. They play an important role in ensuring fair play and preventing problem gambling in the UK and by adhering to the regulations set out by the Gambling Commission, providing tools and resources for problem gambling and taking proactive steps to prevent problem gambling, bookmakers can help to ensure that gambling remains a safe and enjoyable activity for all customers. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that everyone can enjoy gambling in a responsible and safe manner, without being at risk of harm or exploitation.