A breakdown of gambling laws in the UK
The first significant piece of legislation to regulate gambling comes from the Gambling Act 2005. It was established to regulate all forms of gambling - except financial betting such as spread betting. After this act was created in 2005, gambling laws were all put under one roof with the Gambling Commission created as an independent regulator as part of the UK Government.
Playing online slots through casinos became more responsible through this and the UK began promoting fair and safe gambling by protecting the underage and vulnerable. Such tactics as minimum legal age and self-exclusion options for vulnerable people needing a break were included in this act. The UK Government didn’t want to criminalise players but instead create a safer environment with more protection.
Gambling Act 2005
Prior to this act, players had little protection at casinos and online slots. The act was brought in to make the UK up-to-date with the modern world. The opening text in the act set out three primary objectives for their new licensing system:
- Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime, disorder, or as an accessory to the crime.
- Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair fashion.
- Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
Alongside this act, the Gambling Commission was created in order to regulate and make sure that casinos and players abide by the rules and regulations. They licence, regulate, advise and provide guidance to individuals and businesses in the UK to ensure that they follow the rules and provide support when needed.
The minimum age to gamble in the UK is 18 and this is when you can legally play online slots or play through casinos legally. All establishments are legally required to confirm that the person is at least 18 years old before allowing them to play through their casinos. This is done by requesting ID or other necessary documents to prove that you are 18.
Depending on the offence in question, you could receive hefty fines or even jail time. There are so many offences listed in the Gambling Act 2005, but here are a few of the standout penalties.
- Underage gambling can result in a £1,000 fine.
- Cheating can result in 51 weeks of imprisonment and/or a £5,000 fine.
- Providing gambling facilities without a licence can result in 51 weeks of imprisonment and/or a £5,000 fine.
- Contravention of regulations relating to advertising can lead to 51 weeks of imprisonment and/or a £5,000 fine.
Updates In 2020
Despite the Gambling Act 2005 being revolutionary in making the UK one of the safest places to bet - the industry has changed a lot since then. To keep up with the changing nature of the internet and the accessibility of online casinos, the Gambling Commission introduced stronger protection for players in 2020.
At the start of 2020, player age and identity checks were brought into question to try to prevent underage people from playing at online casinos. Online slots and casinos now must verify players’ identities before they can access demos, deposit funds, access games or use any bonuses. They also enact a policy that forces companies to follow procedures in detecting duplicated accounts.
Bans On Using Credit Cards
As of April 2020, online casinos and slots do not accept credit card payouts. This carries over to services like PayPal which are connected to credit cards. This is to make sure that players aren’t betting more than they can afford.
All online operators are legally obligated to join the national self-exclusion scheme called GAMSTOP. The Gambling Commission has enacted this update in the hopes that this will help players from gambling excessively and being able to exclude themselves if need be.
It’s no surprise that VIP players can be tempted to play a little too much with casinos offering them free bets and extra prizes. Before designating a VIP status for a player, operators and casinos must conduct affordability checks, assess risks and harm checks, verify their identity and clarify their source of funds.
Updates in 2021
Just because the Gambling Act was created in 2005, it doesn’t mean that the laws have to fully stick to that. In 2021, there has been a call for a review of the Gambling Act 2005 and a Call for Evidence. Ultimately, this aims to scrutinise online restrictions, marketing and the powers of the Gambling Commission.
The key areas that the Call for Evidence is looking at changing include online protections, advertising, the Gambling Commission’s powers, consumer redress, age verification and land-based gambling. There are currently no changes to the Gambling Act 2005 in 2021 and the UK Government have yet to discuss this in Parliament.