There are a number of regulatory bodies employed to ensure that land-based and online casinos are crime-free, act fairly, pay winnings within a reasonable timeframe and protect vulnerable people. In the UK, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has overall responsibility for the gambling industry, and employs organisations such as the Gambling Commission to regulate it to the standards set out in the Gambling Act 2005.

Land-Based Casinos in the UK

Land-based casinos must receive a certificate of consent from the gaming board and then obtain a licence to offer gambling activities from their local licensing authorities. These local councils take into account a number of factors before awarding licences, including deciding on the suitability of the prospective licensee to run such an establishment.The effect on the local community and the number of other licensed premises in the vicinity also require careful consideration.

Strict rules are imposed over the amount of gaming machines a casino is allowed to offer, as well as what additional services they can provide. Large casinos can take sports bets and run bingo sessions in addition to table and slot games, but these services are optional and vary between locations.

Licensees have their opening hours approved by the local authority and must prevent the gaming at their venue from becoming a source of crime and disorder, while ensuring that the gambling on their premises is fair and doesn’t harm or exploit children or other vulnerable people. They are also liable for gaming duty, charged as a percentage of their gross gaming yield.

If you feel that you might have a gambling problem and wish to self-exclude you can ask a casino to stop accepting your custom. by law, the venue must do everything in its power to prevent you from playing during a pre-arranged period of time.

Online Casinos

Online gambling, or remote gambling as it is sometimes known, is also regulated by the Gambling Commission.

Many remote gambling operators choose to be based outside the UK, taking advantage of lower tax rates in jurisdictions such as Gibraltar, Malta and the Isle of Man. On 1st December 2014, the UK government introduced a Point of Consumption tax on gambling activities, meaning that, even if their main offices are based in a tax haven, these companies still have to pay 15 percent of profits into the UK Treasury, as they offer services to UK players.

Previously, as long as a company had no pieces of remote gambling equipment, such as a server, in the country, they didn’t need a UK Gambling Commission licence and did not have to pay UK tax. Now, if they wish to advertise and offer gaming to players in the country, they must obtain a remote operating licence and accept the withholding set out by the UK government.

Another requirement that must be met before an online casino can advertise in the UK is that they must be based in a jurisdiction that features on the Whitelist developed jointly by the Gambling Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority.

The Gambling Act 2005 allowed casino advertising on television and radio for the first time, but restricts it to companies with a licence to offer gambling to UK players and who are based in the European Economic Area, Alderney, Antigua and Barbuda, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man or Tasmania.

Online casinos, just as with land-based venues, must ensure that there is no criminal activity connected with their services, must ensure fairness in their games and protect minors in order to keep their licence. Websites must also prominently display easy-to-access information on responsible gambling as part of the licence agreement.

Online Casino Regulation in Other Jurisdictions

Although online casinos based overseas need to adhere to the guidance of the UK Gambling Commission in order to receive a licence that lets them offer services to players in the country, they are also regulated by the authorities in the areas from where they operate.


In 2004, Malta was the first EU nation to regulate online gambling. In order to gain a licence, casinos must pay an application fee as well as a yearly licence fee. Prospective licensees are audited to ensure they are fit and proper as well as put through an assessment of their technical and business ability. They are also assessed for compliance once the licence has been awarded.


The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority receives annual fees from the casinos it regulates. These gaming firms must be managed, controlled and taxed within the territory. The authority warns on its website that “licences are generally difficult to obtain”, stating that it will only consider applications from “blue chip companies with a proven track record in gambling”. Most major operators in the UK, such as Ladbrokes and Boylesports, also possess a gaming licence from Gibraltar as well as the Gambling Commission.

Isle of Man

The Isle of Man has been regulating iGaming since 2001, with the government offering a range of business benefits to encourage companies to bring their business to the island. During the financial year 2013-14, the online gambling sector became the biggest industry in the British Crown dependency.

Licences are issued by the Gambling Supervision Commission on the basis that the licensee is a person or persons of integrity and that they have the financial means to provide the service they are offering. Firms pay an annual licence fee for up to five years before having to apply for a renewal. Paddy Power holds a licence from the Isle of Man in addition to being licenced and regulation by the UKGC.


There are a number of different licences available to remote gambling firms on Alderney, but all applicants have to file as a registered company on the island, publish a notice of application in the local paper and pay a £10,000 deposit in order for the Gambling Control Commission to investigate their suitability.

Potential licensees also have to meet with officials to discuss their business plan, any associates they may work with and other topics relevant to their application. The Commission insists on regular testing of its licensees’ gambling equipment to ensure fairness.

Antigua and Barbuda

The Antigua Directorate of Offshore Gaming requires full personal information from any shareholder who holds over five percent of shares in a company which wishes to gain a licence. A non-refundable fee of US$15,000 is required, with the funds used to perform investigations into the suitability of the applicant. Gaming and wagering licences are reviewed and renewed on a yearly basis.


In order to hold a licence in Tasmania, the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission will investigate the applicant’s reputation and integrity, financial position, technical ability and whether they have put in place a fitting corporate structure.

Licensees can run sports betting, betting exchanges, simulated gaming and lotteries from Tasmania.

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