UK online casinos operate in one of the best regulated gambling environments in the world. The foundation of this environment is the Gambling Act of 2005, which regulates land-based gambling activity and online gambling. The land-based activities cover lottery, sports betting, gaming machines, bingo halls and casinos. The online gambling includes online casinos, poker rooms, bingo and sports betting. Many of the UK online casinos have their origin in land based betting shops.
Under the Gambling Act, the Gambling Commission is the designated body that issues licenses to UK online casinos. The Gambling Commission carries out a rigorous review of the applicants’ capabilities before issuing the licenses. The licenses permit the UK online casinos to cater to players residing in the United Kingdom and also in other parts of the world where online gambling is legal. UK online casinos have considerable flexibility in operation and are even allowed to advertise in various media. However they must adhere to the strict guidelines in respect of not allowing underage players, blocking compulsive gamblers and taking care of players’ interests.
All UK online casinos are not licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. The Gambling Commission has prepared a white list of the most reputed gambling jurisdictions that include Alderney, Gibraltar and Isle of Man. Online casinos licensed by the regulatory body in these offshore jurisdictions are considered UK online casinos. They can sign up players from the United Kingdom and can advertise there. They will, however, be governed by the rules and regulations set out in the Gambling Act.
The rates of tax on UK online casinos located in the United Kingdom and licensed by the UK Gambling Commission are higher than those of many of the jurisdictions on the white list. Therefore some of the biggest UK online casinos originally licensed by the Gambling Commission have obtained licenses from other white list jurisdictions and have moved offshore so as to have a lower tax burden. The UK government is seized of the matter and is contemplating changes to the Gambling Act to as to have a level playing field for all UK online casinos.
UK online casinos offer the complete range of online casino games. The games played in the British land casinos are covered and these include roulette, blackjack, baccarat and craps. A large number of casino poker variants like Texas Hold’em Poker and Caribbean Stud Poker can be played at UK online casinos as can video poker variants like Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild. Games like keno and scratch cards are also offered. However, the most popular category is online slots. This includes three reel slots, video slots and progressive jackpot slots. The fruit machine slots are especially popular at UK online casinos. These are based on the fruit machines that were at one time an integral part of the British pub culture.
There are certain other characteristic features of UK online casinos, whether they operate from the United Kingdom or from offshore jurisdictions. UK online casinos carry out financial transactions and wagering in British pounds. They provide toll free phone numbers to British residents for contacting their customer support teams. And UK online casinos provide facilities to players to assess if they are prone to compulsive gambling, to block themselves out for varying periods and to seek professional help in the extreme case.