The United Kingdom is one of the countries in Europe where it is legal to gamble and to offer gambling games. Gambling is legal to regulate the gambling market with the mission to protect the players. There are various requirements attached to a permit. It can seem quite a lot and overwhelming, so we would like to provide you with a small overview of the requirements set by the UK Gambling Commission.
All operators based in the United Kingdom, or offering their services to British customers, are required to obtain one or more local licences. The UKGC issues a wide variety of permits; obtaining one takes about 16 weeks. When a casino wants to apply for or has applied for a license, it is assessed on various points. To be well prepared for such an application, it is useful to know what the authorities are paying attention to.
The UKGC assesses all applications considering two main factors: the business’ intention and ability to uphold the licensing objectives, and suitability to carry out the allowed activities. The assessment of the suitability process aims at finding evidence of identity and ownership, past and present financial circumstances of all relevant individuals, integrity (including criminal records evaluation), and competence. For this reason, businesses are required to provide an extensive set of documents at the moment of application.
Not all documents are mandatory, some depend on the type of entity applying for a licence — for example, a sole trader must provide their identity documents, whereas a limited company would have to provide an ownership structure diagram, a management structure, articles of association, certificate of incorporation, and memorandum of association. Entities based abroad must provide a credit report, and if they are licenced elsewhere, a copy of the gambling licences issued by other jurisdictions. In the case of a remote licence, it’s necessary to provide documentation regarding remote-specific policies and procedures, the software and gambling software supply, the operational model, and a system diagram for the end-to-end process.
Although you need different documents for each permit, there are several documents that you must provide with each permit. these documents are considered the core documents. These include general policies and procedures (which must meet the standards outlined in the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice, LCCP), customer terms and conditions, rules of play, bank statements for the previous 6 months for all accounts, proof of funding, business plan, and profit and loss projections for the following 3 years.
When you apply for a new operating licence, you must tell us about people who will be in relevant management positions. Those responsible for the management of the business will also have to provide a Personal Management Licence (PML) and/or an Annex A personal declaration form, depending on the specific circumstances. The UKGC will check if you qualify as a small-scale operator in your application. If you do not qualify you will be prompted to change the people to require personal management licences.
Compliance and obligations: the LCCP
One of the reasons why a UKGC licence is so highly valued by operators and players alike is that it demonstrates operators’ commitment to running a compliant business. Licensees are bound by the LCCP, an extensive document outlining all the operators’ requirements. The requirements set are quite strict — particularly when compared to those of other jurisdictions — and require operators to be extremely vigilant regarding know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) topics.
The first part covers the operating licence condition. Among other topics, it covers:
- Technical standards and equipment specifications
- Protection of customer funds
- General “fair and open” provisions
- Game types and rules
- AML provisions
- Customer identity verification
- Responsible placement of digital ads
The second part covers the code of practice provisions. Here are some topics:
- Financial requirements
- Protection of vulnerable persons
- Detailed “fair and open” provisions
- Complaints and disputes
The third and final part of the LCCP briefly covers the obligations for personal licence holders.
What the UKGC assesses:
The UKGC will look at the casino’s policies to make sure that the rules are being followed. They make sure that:>
- The licensing objectives will be followed
- There is an understanding of the legislation overall
- Evidence that your arrangements will meet social responsibility requirements.
The Gambling Act states that there is no requirement that an applicant is incorporated in a particular country or jurisdiction. However, it is important to note the requirement in section 69 of the Gambling Act 2005 that states you must provide an address in the UK at which a document under the Act may be served. This means that if your head office and registered office addresses are overseas, you will have to provide a correspondence address that is in the UK at which papers can be posted so that they can be received quickly. The address cannot be a PO Box and needs to be somewhere where there is a consistent staff present or be the address of an official representative.