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Risks and implications of betting with unlicensed slot sites

Risks and implications of betting with unlicensed slot sites
Paul Clare
by Paul Clare Last updated:

Unlicensed slot sites are big business. In Germany, some estimates have 90% of online gambling revenue going abroad while 80% of slots play is being accessed offshore. The Belgian Gaming Commission, the Kansspelcommissie, estimates that around 20% of gamblers are using illegal sites. The current situation in the UK, is quite different with the problem estimated at around 2-3% of gamblers falling foul of illegal operators, and in the process, running significant personal risks. However, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) suggests the real number in the UK could actually be much greater – as high as 4.5%. The fear is that this figure will rise if regulations become too strict.

Many players can’t tell a legal, regulated slots site from its black market equivalent, meaning the risk of falling into the hands of an unlicensed site is high. At Slot Gods, it’s part of our responsibility to players to help keep you safe. We want to provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about different slot sites and ensure you always stay on the right side of the law. 

So what are the risks and implications of betting with these sites? And what can you do to make the right decision about where to bet and spin?

The problem with unlicensed slot sites

Unfortunately, unlicensed slot sites are everywhere. Not burdened by the need to apply for licences or deal with regulators, unregulated sites pop up where they want, when they want, targeting whoever they want. Slot sites operating like this in the UK are illegal, but the bigger problem is when these sites are hosted offshore. It is very tough for UK regulators to detect and close them down. Recent experiences in Germany are a clear warning to the UK market.

The main risk associated with unlicensed slot sites is that there is nothing holding them accountable, i.e. forcing them to remain honest and adhere to any laws. As a result, you can run into problems withdrawing your funds or getting paid your winnings, with no recourse to a third-party regulator. The same can be said for some game providers operating in these markets who have no legal obligation to prove how fair their games are.

Unlicensed operators are also likely to be less rigorous about age controls, player protections around responsible gambling, and safeguarding financial and personal data. Without the authorities monitoring them, unregulated operators have no need or real incentive to play by the rules. Instead, they do whatever suits them, which is unlikely to be to your benefit as a player!

With regard to player fund protection, insolvency is a real risk that is often overlooked. You need to be sure you’re covered in the event of the slot site collapsing. UK-regulated slot sites are required to hold customer funds in a separate account, as a minimum standard. However, without regulators keeping an eye on proceedings, unregulated sites will likely commingle customer funds with business funds meaning player funds being classed as part of the offshore site's assets. The result? Little or no protection for players.

Unfortunately, too many players still can't readily tell the difference between a regulated and an unregulated site. Yet the practical differences to the player experience can be huge.

How to tell the difference

For all practical purposes, regulated and unregulated slot sites can look very similar. They can even carry many of the same games. But the difference comes in understanding the law for UK players, and knowing where and what to look for, and how to verify, the information separates these two types of sites.

Any slot site serving UK players must hold a licence from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). This ensures they are continuously monitored and regulated. As part of that regulation, they are required to carry details of their licence in the footer of their website, which should contain their licence number. You can click on this number in most cases to cross-reference this information with the Gambling Commission, which should confirm you’re dealing with a legal operator. 

Of course, another way you can tell is to follow slot site recommendations here at Slot Gods, your independent resource for choosing slot sites. We only review licensed, regulated slots sites, so you can be certain any site you find here is regulated and operating legally in the UK.

Only play at regulated sites

Regulated sites offer the best and safest playing experience. With fairness assured, a regulator you can complain to in extreme cases, and a whole host of other player protections and minimum standards in place. You can be certain that a regulated slot site will give you an honest crack of the whip.

Playing at regulated slot sites will never guarantee you’ll be a winner. But by sticking with those on the right side of the law, you get all the legal protections for UK players afforded to you, as well as the backing of one of the world’s toughest gambling regulators in holding slot sites to account. 

Playing at regulated sites is one of the most important pieces of advice the Slot Gods team can give you. Putting it simply and bluntly: Unregulated slot sites just aren't worth the risk.

Paul Clare
by Paul Clare Last updated:

Paul spent plenty of time in arcades up and down the UK discovering all of the best fruit machines and watching them grow into the incredible online slots we see today. He still loves the basic format but also has a soft spot for games with big bonus rounds that progress as you play. Immortal Romance is one of his favourite slots of all time.