The UK gambling market is one of the most developed worldwide and it continues growing. In terms of regulations, the legal status of gambling has undergone great changes throughout the years with many alterations. Nowadays, both online and land-based gambling is fully legal and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). The legal gambling age in the UK is 18+ and it can be said that the Brits enjoy one of the most lenient gambling laws.
Remote casinos seem to be the biggest contributors to the GGR, forming 22.4% of the total sum, while the national lottery comes closely behind with 22.3%. Non-remote casinos bring 7.4% Remote betting contributes a further 14.9%, while non-remote betting brings19.7%. The remaining is contributed by lotteries and bingo.
The gambling industry provides nearly 100,000 jobs for British residents. There are currently a total of 2,652 licenced operators in the UK and 9,745 licenced betting premises. In September 2019, there were 155 operating casinos and 8,320 betting shops. There are also over 100 online casinos licenced by the UKGC.
Types of Gambling Licences in the UK
If you provide gambling services, whether remote or non-remote, while advertising to users in the UK, you are going to need a licence to operate. The UKGC issued 3 types of licences – operating licences, personal management licences, and personal functional licences. Depending on the type of operator you are, you may need all three licences.
There is also one more type of licence that you can attain in the UK – a premises licence. Permits are issued for premises on which arcade, bingo, and betting are operated on. These are generally for places like pubs to host low-key gambling. Premises permits are not issued by the UKGC, but rather by local licencing authorities.
An operating licence is needed to open remote and non-remote betting domains. There are several types of operating licences available to people who would like to start providing such services.
Most gambling activities will require an operating licence to be able to offer such services. Bingo, lottery, betting shops, and arcades all need a licence to operate. It goes without saying, but you will need an operator’s licence for casinos, gaming machines, and creating gambling software as well. These can all be granted by the UKGC.
Once you have decided what type of licence you are going to need, it is time to submit your application form. Your lawyer can do so, but they will need to be in charge of the whole process. Applications must be completed online There are application fees involved that are calculated based on the type of services you will be providing. The typical waiting time for an operator’s licence is 16 weeks. Annual fees must be paid within 6 months of receiving your licence according to the 2005 Act.
Personal Management Licences
This type of licence is needed if you are responsible for several activities. People in charge of overall strategy and delivery of gambling operations, financial planning and budgeting, regulatory compliance and marketing and development will need one.
If you are responsible for gambling-related IT provision and security or management of licenced activity in the UK where you have 5 or more premises for which you have permits, you are also going to need a personal management licence. Responsibility for a single set of casino and/or bingo premises will also require this type of licence.
The cost for this type of license is £370 and it will take up to 8 weeks to process the application. Keep in mind, that fee will not be returned if you withdraw the application or the application is rejected.
Personal Functional Licences
Individuals that intend to be involved with the handling of cash concerning gambling activities will need a personal functional licence. You will need to attain this before you start doing so. Here is a list of occupations that will require a PFL:
- Pit boss or gaming supervisor
- Security staff
- Surveillance monitor related to gambling activities
This type of licence seems similar to a personal management licence, but it is not. A PML is needed if you are going to be involved in the management of gambling activities, whereas the PFL is needed for an individual that will be handling money for the gambling activities.
It will cost £185 to submit your application for a personal functional licence. This fee will not be returned if the application is unsuccessful or you decide to withdraw your application. It will take up to 8 weeks to process a request.
Individuals or companies that use, causes or permits premises to be used for offering gambling services, a premises licence is required. This type of licence is issued by the local licencing authorities. Premises licences authorise the provision of facilities on casino, bingo, betting, adult gaming centre, family entertainment centre premises.
Operators can not acquire premises licences without first having obtained an operating licence. This type of licence can be issued to specific premises or vessels that are situated in or on water that contain passengers.
Licencing of premises is issued after an application is filled in, with a prescribed fee. You will need other documents, such as the plans for the premises. You must also publish notice of their application and inform the responsible authorities. If the relevant notices have not been made, your licence will not be valid.
What Activities Require a UKGC Operating Permit?
The UKGC issues several types of individual subtypes of operating licenses. If you intend on providing more than one kind of gambling service, you are going to have to get one for each subtype. The main ones are arcades, betting shops, bingo, casinos, lotteries, gaming machines, and gambling software. Then you will get more subtypes in each of these categories, including individual remote and non-remote licences.
Non-Remote Operating Licences
Non-remote operating licences are granted to land-based casinos. Your premises licence will be issued to either small casino premises or large casino premises. Each type is restricted to certain local licencing authority areas.
Under the 2005 Act, small premises have a minimum table gaming area of 500 square meters and a minimum non-gambling area of 250 square meters. Large casino premises must have a minimum table gaming area of 1,000 square meters and a minimum non-gambling area of 500 square meters.
Application fees for non-remote 2005 Act casino operating licences depend on the annual gross gambling yield (GGY). For A1 and B1 categories (less than £5.5 million or £5.5 million up to, but excluding £27.5 million), the application fee is £25,777. Categories C1 (£27.5 million or greater, up to but excluding £110 million), D1 (£110 million or greater, up to but excluding £200 million), E1 (£200 million or greater, up to but excluding £300 million), E2 (£300 million or greater, up to but excluding £400 million), and E3 (£400 million or greater) require an application fee of £33,832.
The first annual fee is due 6 months after the license is issued. Subsequent fees are due before the date your licence was issued to you. For the non-remote Casino 2005 Act, the first fee will be reduced by 50% and if your casino is not operational, the subsequent fees will also be reduced by 50%. Combining licences will give you a discount on annual fees.
Your annual fee for an A1 category license is £21,714, while the B1 annual fee is £34,440. The C1 category fee is £105,110. For a D1 category, the fee is £194,256.
Your E1 category has an annual fee of £352,026. For an E2 category, the annual fee is £452,837. The E3 category is £400 million or greater, the fee for this category is £572,837 plus £120,000 for each complete additional £150 million in GGY.
If you are operating under the non-remote Casino 1968 Act, the annual and application fees may differ. It is best to contact the UK Gambling Commission if you were originally granted under the Gaming Act 1968.
Remote Operating Licences
Remote operating licensing is required if you intend on offering online or remote gambling services to consumers in Britain or if any part of your remote gambling equipment is based in the UK, `no matter what part of the world you are in. There are two subtypes of remote operating licences – remote casino licence and remote game host operating licence.
A remote casino licence will enable you to provide casino games via a website, mobile phone, TV, or other online services. The casino games include slots, video poker, poker, roulette, blackjack, and others. If the participants in your online casino are your own customers, you will only need the remote casino licence.
The remote game host operator licence enables a gambling software business to provide facilities for remote gambling by allowing their games to be accessed by customers of other operators. This means that they can host their own games through their own server, but the games can only be accessed via another operator’s website. You must hold an operator’s licence and can not contract directly with any of the customers.
As the non-remote licence application and annual fees depend on the annual GGY, so do the remote licence fees. Combining licences will reduce your total fees. This time, the categories are F1 (Less than £550,000), G1 (£550,000 or greater, up to but excluding £2 million), G2 (£2 million or greater, up to but excluding £5.5 million), H1 (£5.5 million or greater, up to but excluding £25 million), I1 (£25 million or greater, up to but excluding £100 million), J1 (£100 million or greater, up to but excluding £250 million), K1 (£250 million or greater, up to but excluding £550 million), L1 (£550 million or greater, up to but excluding £1 billion), and M1 (£1 billion or greater).
The application fees for a remote game host operating licences are £1,980 for F1, for G1 and G2 the fee is £4,839. For an H1 category licence, the application fee is £7,610, while the I1 fee is £11,172. The J1 licence application fee is £17,983, and the K1 is £25,374. Both the L1 and M1 have an application fee of £42,978.
Annual fees for a remote game host operating licences start from £2,027 for an F1 category and £4,855 for G1. The G2 category has an annual fee of £7,094, while the H1 fee is £9,958. Next comes the I1 with an annual fee of £26,595, followed by the J1 with a fee of £50,993. The K1 category comes with an annual fee of £102,108, and the L1 has a fee of £289,652.
Application fees for remote casino operating licences start from £2,640 for F1 category and £6,452 for both G1 and G2 categories. The H1 category comes with an application fee of £10,147, and the I1 category has a fee of £14,896. J1 category licences have an application fee of £23,977, while the K1 category has a fee of £33,832. Both the L1 and M1 categories have an application fee of £57,304.
Annual fees begin at £2,709 for the F1 category, while the G1 fee is £6,488. The G2 category has annual fees of £9,4890, and the H1 category’s fee is £13,307. For an I1 licence, the annual fee is £35,541, and the J1 fees are £68,146. The K1 category annual fee is £136,455, while the L1 fee is £387,083. Licence category M1 starts from a GGY of £1 billion. The annual fee is £512, 083 plus an additional £125,000 for every £500 million above the initial £1 billion.
Businesses that wish to provide gambling services to customers in the UK have to go through a complex of documentation and applications to be able to do so. There are several types of licences that we mentioned above. Once you have chosen the type/s that suit your needs, you can proceed with the online application.
Running a Test Application
To better understand how the process of the application works, you can create a test application. This will allow you to better acquaint yourself with the form and the documents you need to prepare, avoiding confusion or mistakes that could result in your application being rejected.
To avoid any confusion, give your test file the name TEST – your name. We have all sent the wrong papers in at one point in our lives, but this will help you avoid that fatal mistake.
Complete the form until the end to familiarise yourself with the format, but do not send it. When you are confident about the application, delete the test run and begin the real application.
Submission of Documentation
The documents you will need to prepare for submission are – operator identity documents, policy documents, financial documents, and key people (staff).
After you submit your application, you can scan and upload certified copies of your documents. If you are not able to submit the documents this way, you can either post the originals or send them via email. Be sure to do this on the same day of the application though, or your application might not be accepted. In the event that the documents are not received within 5 working days, your application will not be viewed.
If you post your original documents, they will be returned to you by recorded or special delivery. You will need to sign for them when they arrive. When you send them, you must quote your name and the unique application reference ID given to you during the application process.
Application fees can be paid via bank transfer or BACS. Do not make a payment before submitting your application, as the UKGC will not be able to assign the payment to your application.
If paying via bank transfer, the payment must be made on the same day of the application. When paying with BACS, you must include your Commission account number or the full name of the applicant.
Sending DBS Certificate for Criminal Record
Another important thing is to send your DBS certificate for a criminal record. You must send this as soon as possible, otherwise, your application may be delayed. It is also important to note that the UK Gambling Commission does not accept copies or certified copies. You must send the original certificate. It will later be returned to you by post. Some circumstances may allow for you to not send the certificate if you join the DBS update service.
Assessment of the Application
When the UK Gambling Commission assesses your application, there are many important factors they will take into consideration. The regulator is known for its high standards and strict rules that their licensees must abide by.
The first thing they will look at is the identity of the applicant and the identity of those relevant to the application. Then they will take into account the financial aspect of your application. This will include financial circumstances and history of the applicant and those relevant to the application as well as resources and whether or not they are likely to carry out licenced activities.
Integrity is the next thing they will look at. This will include the trustworthiness of the applicant and those relevant to the application. After that, they will take a look at the applicant’s expertise, experience, qualifications, history, and overall competence as well as that of those relevant to the application.
Finally, the applicant’s criminal record and that of those relevant to the application will come into consideration. This is because the commission needs to be completely confident in those they issue licences to.
Approved applicants can download a copy of their licence when they log into their UKGC accounts and head to eServices.
Paying Annual Fees
The annual fees are based on the Gross Gaming Yield (GGY). When approved applicants receive their licences, they have 30 days by the 1968 Act or 6 months by the 2005 Act. It is important to contact the UKGC and inquire as to which is relevant to your licence if you do not know.
Paying Annual Taxes
Approved applicants will also have to pay annual taxes on their incomes per game type. The tax for bingo is set at 10% of profits, whereas fixed odds bets, totalisator bets on horse or dog races is 15%. Pool betting tax rates that are not set at fixed odds, or horse or dog racing are 15%. The tax for lottery is set at 12% of the price paid.
Land casino tax rates depend on the total GGY. For the first £2,471,000 the tax is 15%, and the next £1,703,500 is 20%. The next £2,983,000 comes with 30% tax, and the next 6,296,400 comes with 40% tax. Everything after that is taxed 50%. Remote casinos with customer bases from the UK have to pay 21% tax.
What Measures are Taken Against Licensees Guilty of Violation?
The UKGC is one of the most esteemed gambling regulators and has been known to impose strict sanctions on the licensees that do not comply with their rules. This regulatory authority has placed said rules to ensure safe, fair, and crime-free gambling.
They generally tend to encourage and help their licensees to abide by the rules, but they do reserve the right to impose various sanctions as they see fit. Those sanctions include a warning, attaching additional licencing conditions, removing or amending licencing conditions, suspending or revoking a licence, and imposing a financial penalty.
Common reasons for operators to receive a hefty fine, a suspension, or even a revocation of their licence includes failure to meet technical standards, failure to comply with the regulator’s social responsibility requirements, and anti-money laundering failures.