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How To Avoid Rogue Casinos and Gambling Sites in the UK

2 months ago 0 96

Despite strict regulation, unlicensed gambling sites continue to operate in the UK. For consumers, it is often hard to spot the difference between an unlicensed site and a licensed one. This article is written to help you understand why licensing is important and how to identify black market sites so that you can avoid them. 

The Function of Licensing In The UK

The UK has been a regulated gambling market since 2005 when the then Labour government’s Gambling Act became law. Part of the function of that piece of legislation was to put in place rules to protect consumers from rogue business practices such as marketing scams, rigged games or sites with inadequate security to protect your money. It is the role of the UK Gambling Commission to enforce this regulation and within that, issue licenses to betting sites who are deemed fit to operate in the UK.

The auditing process carried out before a license is issued will ensure at least the following are true:

  • the games are fair and all outcomes random
  • every customer account balance is ringfenced and protected in the event the business goes under
  • promotional activity is fair and all terms are transparent
  • responsible gambling tools are available in every player account.  These tools include features like self-exclusion functions and the ability to set deposit and loss limits

All licensed operators must also adhere to the Commission’s published code of practice.

So, in short, playing at a licensed site ensures that you can have a safe and enjoyable gambling experience. For this reason, you should only ever play at licensed casinos and sportsbooks. But how can you spot an unlicensed site? Here are some key points to look out for.

Does The Site Have A License Number Displayed?

Any operator who has been licensed by the UK Gambling Commission is required by law to display their license number on every page on their website or app. You will normally find this in the footer of the website like this:

‘This website provides facilities for gambling to persons in Great Britain in reliance to Gambling Commission Account Number 39265.’

It’s important to remember that you are looking for a UK Gambling Commission license number. Other licenses might be referred to, but these jurisdictions are not enough on their own. To be protected under UK law and have recourse in the event that you are in dispute with the casino, then the license information must be in the above format.

There are plenty of online resources to find licensed gambling operators, including our own for casinos, allslotsites.com for slots players and many popular odds comparison sites for sports bettors.

Is The Site on Gamstop?

Gamstop is the all-inclusive self-exclusion program that ALL licensed gambling operators in the UK must be a member of. It allows a consumer to exclude themselves from EVERY licensed betting site from one place. Self-exclusion is an important tool to help those with a gambling addiction to stop playing. Any site that advertises itself as ‘Not on Gamstop’ is unscrupulous and importantly, it is not licensed. They should be avoided!

Does The Casino Offer a Dispute Resolution Service?

Another feature of the licensing program in the UK is that all operators must offer a dispute resolution service for their customers. This comes into play should you enter into a dispute with a casino or sportsbook over any aspect of their service. This could be something related to a bonus, or your account withdrawals, or more likely the outcome of a game. The most common situation in which a dispute arises is when a player is unsatisfied with the result of a spin or card turn, believing they should have been paid winnings that weren’t credited to their account.

A licensed casino should reference their dispute resolution service, typically one like ibas-uk, and the third party they refer complaints to, in their terms and conditions. Rogue sites won’t offer this which severely limits your options should you find yourself in conflict.

Are The Terms and Conditions Clear?

The UK Gambling Commission has made a point over the years of cracking down on sites whose terms and conditions, particularly relating to bonus offers, are opaque and unclear. Free spins and bonuses given out with deposits are typically tied up with wagering requirements, stake limits and withdrawal limits. Now UK sites must display the significant terms of any offer clearly next to the headline so there can be no confusion.

If you play at an unlicensed site you may be offered much bigger bonuses than you see at a licensed site, but the terms will often be hidden away, difficult to understand, and so restrictive as to make the offer worthless anyway.

Is the Software From a Credible Supplier?

You should also look at the games and software supplier to ensure that they are coming from a credible source. Just like the operators in the UK, game suppliers must be licensed too. A licensed operator will only partner with licensed game suppliers anyway, but it’s worth browsing the games to ensure that the usual popular and famous titles are there from top names like NetEnt, Big Time Gaming and Microgaming. If you don’t recognise any of the games, that could ring alarm bells!

Does The Site Have Adequate Security?

You are dealing with regular financial transactions at any betting site you play at and these MUST be processed over a secure socket layer with the correct certification. This applies as soon as you sign up or log into your gaming account. There is an easy way to check if the operator is providing this level of security. On log in, the URL of the site displayed in the address bar will switch from http:// to https://.

In many cases it will already be displayed as https:// when you first load up the site. The golden rule is, never bet with a site that sits on an http:// address after you have logged in.

To Sum Up

Our advice will always be the same: only ever play at licensed casinos. They may try to tempt you through their virtual doors with unbelievable bonus offers and jackpots, but beware, because they are not governed by UK law, they are taking bets illegally, and you will be offered no protection in the event that you enter a dispute or the company shuts their site down and walks off with your money. So, follow our guide, make sure you only play at sites that display a UK license number, and you can then always enjoy safe, secure and fair gaming.

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