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With the growing expansion of gambling over the internet, the need to protect gamblers from rogue elements has never been higher.
In most countries where online gambling is legal, there is a jurisdictional government agency that’s in charge of overseeing online gambling activities. They are there to make sure everything is properly regulated for the benefit of all applicable parties. In the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, the key jurisdictional government agency is the Uk Gambling Commission (UKGC). Along with the Malta Gaming Authority, these two agencies are seen as the two most powerful online gambling regulators in the world.
About the UK Gambling Commission
Under Great Britain’s Gambling Act of 2005, the Gambling Commission was established for the purpose of regulating all forms of commercial gambling in Great Britain and in partnership with licensing authorities. This includes national lottery operations.
The responsibilities of the UKCC include but are not limited to the following:
- Setting forth regulations for both the land-based and online gambling industries in the UK
- Enforcing such laws as set forth
- Monitoring the behaviors of gambling providers
- Adjudicating disputes between gambling operators and their end users, the gamblers
- Establishing guidelines to assure fair gaming practices
- Reviewing monthly and fiscal year end reports for all providers
- Issuing gambling licenses when and where applicable
The following is a closer look at how the UKGC handles some of its responsibilities.
Assuring Fair Gambling Practices
All casino games are games of chance, particularly online casino games. As such, each turn of a card, a roll of a dice, or spin of a wheel/reel is supposed to create a random outcome.
In a land-based casino, it’s nearly impossible for a casino to cheat on table games like roulette, blackjack, craps, or baccarat. Gamblers can see the activities taking place, which eliminates the possibility of impropriety with very few exceptions.
The same is not true for land-based video slots and all online casino games. These activities are run through software platforms. Since software platforms are subject to modification at the whim of a programmer, the UKCC requires that all software platforms and related casino games submit to the Gambling Commission’s Remote gambling and software technical standards (RTS). As long as all gambling events are producing truly random outcomes, everything is fair between casinos and gamblers.
To enforce fairness testing regulations, all licensees (casinos and software companies) are required to submit their software platforms and games for periodic audit testing with a qualified statistical auditing firm. The most renowned statistical auditors in the world are eCOGRA, iTech Labs, and TST.
These auditors are charged with running hundreds of thousands of computerized gaming events to determine if the games are truly producing random outcomes based on statistical analysis. If a software platform or game passes testing requirements, they earn a fairness certification.
Note: The UKGC also requires online gambling providers to submit to periodic systems auditing of security features. Online gambling providers will typically use the same aforementioned auditing firms to test their website’s security features. Why? At all times, online gambling providers have a legal obligation to protect their customer’s personal and gambling information from intrusion by outside rogue elements.
Enforcing Problem Gambling Statutes
The UKGC recognizes that gambling is a fun and exciting form of adult entertainment in the right hands. That’s true for most people. However, the UKGC also recognizes there are people out there with significant gambling addictions.
To help protect problem gamblers from themselves, the UKGC requires that all gambling operators provide its customers with easy access to problem gambling information and programs. Furthermore, they are required to monitor players for problem gambling behaviors. Failure to handle these responsibilities could result in the issuing of fines or the loss of a casino’s licensing. Make no mistake about it, the UKGC has been very strict on these rules in recent years. It’s their number one concern given the aggressive expansion of online gambling that has taken place over the last few years.
When money is on the line, disputes are bound to happen between gamblers and gambling providers. When disputes do arise, all applicable parties have a responsibility to make reasonable efforts to resolve said disputes. Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done.
When parties cannot or will not resolve issues, the UKGC has resources to help adjudicate such issues. It’s like a court of law where the facts are submitted and the UKGC makes a binding determination. Failure to comply with a final UKGC ruling could again result in the issuing of fines or the loss of a casino’s licensing.
Note: Online casinos that are licensed and regulated by the UKGC will usually make such reputations directly on their websites. Should a casino not be able to show proof of said licensing, it should be avoided by the general public.