Looking for a fun way to spend your free time while also having the chance to win big? Online gambling is a wildly popular form of entertainment and is continuing to gain popularity in both the UK and in several other countries around the world. But how do you know which sites are the best to play? With so many online casinos to choose from, you want to make sure you’re picking a top-notch casino. Not only are you looking for a high-rated casino, but also one that’s legal, legitimate, and reputable.
With online casino play becoming more and more popular, the amount of fraudulent and illegal gambling sites has also gone up. So how do you know that the casino you’ve chosen is legal and that your money is safe? To ensure that you are going to get the best bang for your buck (legally and legitimately), be sure to keep reading to learn some tips and tricks about how to stay up-to-date on all current gambling regulations.
Online casinos have become a hugely popular form of entertainment in the UK within the past two decades. Since they’re convenient, easy to use, and you can play anywhere, they have begun popping up much more within the past few years. And now, thanks to the COVID pandemic, they have been used even more.
Since there are so many online casinos available, you always want to make sure that you’re playing with an accredited site. Unfortunately not all online casinos are legal, and it’s rather easy to fall for the fake ones. On every online casino website or mobile app, there should be a licence that was issued by the UKGC. This licence is really the only way to tell if an online casino is legal.Advertising Disclosure
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What Is the UKGC?
The UKGC stands for the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. This is the organisation that is responsible for coming up with all of the gambling regulations and restrictions for both land-casinos and online casinos in most of the UK. Even though the name implies the organization manages the whole United Kingdom, it actually only supervises the casinos in England, Scotland, and Wales. Northern Ireland is not under their jurisdiction. All casinos there, both land and online, are regulated by the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries, and Amusements Order 1985. The rules and regulations outlined in this Order are extremely complex, so it was just easier for both parties to simply remain separate in this regard.
So since the UKGC is the top authority for all casinos, always make sure to check that they have approved and verified the casino where you are planning on playing.
Other Accredited Organizations:
While the UKGC is the highest form of authority when it comes to gambling, there are some of the organizations that work in tandem with the UKGC to approve and monitor casinos. Since the UK still has an international presence, these organisations are located outside of the country. These other organizations are The Malta Gaming Authority, Curacao EGaming, and the HM Government of Gibraltar.
- Malta Gaming Authority: Also known at the MGA, this organisation was founded in 2001. Behind the UKGC, MGA is the largest gambling authority in the UK. Located in Malta, they are also responsible for monitoring both land and online casinos. Just like the other organisations, they also provide accreditation and grant licences to those casinos who qualify.
- Curacao EGaming: The oldest of the gaming commissions, this group specialises in granting online casinos their proper licenses and Information Providers, or IPs. This institution began in 1996 and along with the UKGC, is the best source of information for egaming sites. Their website is extremely informative and can give you a push in the right direction for finding anything you could need to know about egaming.
- HM Government of Gibraltar: Similar to the Curacao EGaming organisation, the authorities in the Remote Gambling Division in Gibraltar focus primarily on remote gambling and all that comes with it. Even though they cover all of online betting, they specifically deal with granting licences. In addition to licencing, they also focus on betting.
In order for Gibraltar to approve you for any kind of licence, you have to pass an extensive background check. They will look for any kind of criminal history or any kind of business malpractice. This intense check is for the benefit of the players, as it eliminates the threat of criminals stealing your money with the false promise of casino games.
What to Look For In Legal Casinos?
Obviously all of these institutions were put in place to help protect you, the player, from phony online casinos. To make sure you don’t fall for any trick, here are some of the major signs of a legitimate casino that was approved and licenced by the UKGC or one of the other three entities.
- First, be sure to check and make sure that the casino has been endorsed and licenced by the UKGC. While the other organisations are just as valid, the UKGC has the final say in all of the approvals and ultimately has the most power. If it’s not approved by the UKGC, then it’s not a legitimate online casino and you should steer clear of that site.
- Another criteria is that the site has clear Terms & Conditions. The UK law states that the online casino has to clearly write out the terms and conditions that apply to each player. Even though these rules are usually in small print, they’re still there for the player. These terms and conditions have to be there to notify the player of the casino’s rules. On top of the casino’s general Terms & Conditions, they also have to have the terms and conditions outlined for the bonuses that they offer. This should include any and all stipulations that are attached to the bonus. This gives the player an accurate depiction of the restrictions and requirements for obtaining the bonus.
- In addition to the above rules, make sure that the casino abides by the UK tax laws. This law states that you don’t have to pay taxes on your gambling winnings. A legal online casino won’t instruct you to pay for the winnings or anything along those lines.
- The casino needs to have anti-money laundering systems in place too. Since all of the business for an online casino is done online, money laundering is a potential problem. To help prevent this crime from happening, many casinos require that you upload a picture of a valid ID. When you verify your identity, it shows you that the site is legitimate.
- On the same note as making sure the site is secure, all legal online casinos are equipped with special software that keeps player information (both personal and financial) safe from hackers.
- All legal, UKGC-approved casinos promote responsible playing on their website. Just like any other kind of addiction, gambling problems can become very serious if you’re not careful. Continue to read below to learn some safe and responsible gambling practices.
Since these issues can become very serious, the casinos are responsible for promoting healthy and responsible gaming to their players. Because this is a UKGC mandated rule, every legal online casino will have a link on their webpage somewhere with resources for responsible gaming.
Best Gambling Practices:
While gambling is great fun and is often a way that people choose to relax, you still need to practice responsible gambling. Gambling addiction is a serious illness and affects millions of people every year, all around the world. Because it can get out of hand fairly quickly, here are some helpful tips to keep yourself in check:
- Always set betting limits for yourself. This way you can ensure that you aren’t over-spending when you play. This can be difficult, especially if you’re playing riskier games, however, this is one of the best and most effective ways of keeping your playing in check.
- Don’t borrow money to gamble. This might seem like a harmless favor to ask of someone, however if you continue to ask, you run the risk of becoming indebted to others. Not only that, but in many cases, the amount requested increases. This makes paying others back difficult and further takes you into debt. To be sure you avoid this problem, just avoid asking for money from others.
- Avoid playing when you’re upset, angry or when you’re trying to forget about any problems you’re having. When you use gambling as a distraction then you become dependent on it to feel better.
- Of course, you can still play when you need a break from something or if you’re trying to relax, however, it’s important that you make the distinction between relaxing and avoiding.
- Don’t get too worked up over a loss. Of course no one enjoys losing, especially when it comes to losing your money, but there are appropriate ways to handle these types of losses. Be sure to never chase your loss; do your best to walk away so you don’t continue to lose. This can be a vicious cycle, so please be careful and cautious.
If you or a loved one are suffering from a gambling addiction, there are some great resources for you. The UKGC website has several resources for you to contact if you need it. Always remember that you’re not alone; people care about you and want you to get better. Don’t be scared to ask for help.
Along with playing responsibly, there are a few other things you should be aware of before you begin to game.
- Become familiar with the taxes associated with online gambling. In the UK, it’s not required to pay taxes on your winnings.
- All of your personal information will be kept safe when you play with legal online casinos. Even though it’s not required, most sites have data protection software installed onto their sites by a third-party company. This helps protect players from hackers and viruses that could compromise their important personal information. With this being taken care of, you don’t have to worry and you can play stress-free.
- The terms and conditions of online casinos is very important and you should always read them. While it’s tedious and people hate doing it, it will help you in the long-run.
- Accepted forms of payment: be especially cautious of this. The UKGC has made many rules and regulations regarding different payment methods, even banning some of them. One form that is now banned from online casinos is paying with a credit card. Be sure to have another secure form of payment chosen before you start playing.
These pointers are specific to players in the UK, so if you’re not playing within the UK (England, Scotland, or Wales), be sure to look up your countries’ rules and regulations before playing.
Need Help Finding A Casino?
Now that you know what legal casinos look like and are aware of what to avoid and how to do that, it’s time to find yourself a casino. Still not sure what to look for? Look no further. To help you get started, we have a short list of the top 5 legal online casinos in the UK. Not only do we have their names and web addresses, but we also have some great reviews and additional information for you.
- 888Casino: A 5-star online casino, the 888Casino is a great site for all types of gamblers. With millions of players and dozens of awards, this casino has everything you could want! Here you’re able to enjoy all of the basic online casino games, as well as play live.
At the moment, new players are eligible for the bonus of doubling their deposit and have the chance to win up to $200!
- Grosvenor Casino: Another highly-rated online casino, Grosvenor Casino is fairly new to the online casino world. While they have roughly 50 land casinos that are also extremely well known, their online casinos definitely uphold the company’s reputation. Similar to 888Casino Grosvenor Casino lets the players play on their mobile devices and also has several live casino games to choose from. While they have a wide variety of games, they’re primarily known for their slot game selection. With over 300 different slot games, players will always be entertained.
First time players at Grosvenor Casino will receive a £20 welcome bonus. This deal is too good to pass up, so be sure to check them out!
- MansionCasino.com: A daughter company of Mansion Limited, this casino is praised and well-known for its sleek design and user-friendly interface. Not only that, but the casino itself has over 400 games for players to choose from. With so many games to choose from, players might have questions, but don’t worry! MansionCasio is also well-known for their fantastic customer service!
Another bonus about using MansionCasion is that you have the ability to pay with PayPal! In fact, they’re also one of the top-rated PayPal casinos too. Using PayPal is a great alternative to some other eWallet services and is definitely worth checking out.
Sign up with MansionCasino.com and receive 10% cashback and up to a £500 welcome package!
- BetWay: This online casino specialises and focuses on betting, poker, and bingo. While this is the case, they have perhaps one of the most extensive game selections, as they offer over 750 games! This impressive selection gives players the option to play anything from slots to blackjack to roulette. Slots however, are the big deal at BetWay. The large selection, the wonderful customer service and the user-friendly sites keep players coming back.
If you’re interested in signing up at BetWay, you are eligible for a welcome bonus of up to £50!
- WilliamHill Casino: One of the most well-known online casinos, playing with William Hill is always a good time. This casino has a very large selection of games to play, however, their largest collection consists of various table games and jackpots you can win.
First time players with them get a 100% buy in bonus and 50 free spins!
Please keep in mind that these casinos aren’t the only legal online casinos for people in the UK to play. But rather, they have the best ratings and reviews left from previous guests. When looking at a casino, always be sure to read both player and expert’s reviews on them. This way you can get a more accurate feeling for the casino’s atmosphere and the games that they have available.
Similar to the above list for great casinos, we have also put together a list of some banned casinos that you need to steer clear of:
- Babe Casino
- StayBet Casino
- Raging Bull Casino
- BTC Casino
- Desert Nights Casino
- Bella Vegas Casino
There are a few different reasons as to why these casinos are blacklisted. Be sure to continue reading to learn how you can better recognise the red flags that are associated with illegal online casinos.
We already know that if a casino isn’t fully licenced by the UKGC then it’s not legal, but what are the other signs? There are several other red flags that you should be able to identify in order to recognise an illegal site. While some of them are more obvious than others, it’s still important to be prepared. Here is a short list of things to be aware of when searching for sites:
- Always check the site’s logos and graphics. If they are mismatched, have misspellings, or don’t look official in any way, don’t trust the site. Chances are the creators tried to copy and paste a logo to impersonate a logo or quickly create their own.
Not only should you look at the logos, but also be mindful of other potential issues. This could be dead links, bland or poor web designs, or even a limited game selection.
- Their terms and conditions aren’t outlined properly or at all. Never trust any site that doesn’t share it’s terms and conditions. It’s a legal requirement to do so, especially under bonus offers.
In addition to not having any terms and conditions, be weary of sites that require you to sign up. While online casinos do offer memberships, you are still able to explore the page if you’re not a member.
- Look for poor grammar or spelling. Oftentimes, fake sites don’t proofread their work and the site is riddled with a low level of English. Even if the English is okay, spelling errors or grammar mistakes should never make it onto a legal, professional website.
Catching any of these mistakes should make you question the sites validity, and you should look to gamble elsewhere.
- Poor reviews. Always, always, always be sure to research the online casino you intend to play with. You can learn from the mistakes of others and avoid any potential issue by reading up on different sites.
When it comes to money, people are always very honest, so these reviews are always a trustworthy source.
- If you don’t recognize a payment method then don’t use it. Do some research on it to see if it is legitimate. Yes, while some casinos might accept regional payment methods that aren’t very common, they should also always honor one of the larger payment methods too, such as Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, etc.
So if you don’t see an internationally-recognized payment portal, you should not trust the site.
Best Ways to Stay Informed:
Thanks to the sheer amount of news sources you can find online today, you will have no issues staying up to date on what’s happening in the world of online casinos. One of the easiest ways is to routinely check up on the UKGC site, or any of its affiliates pages. Since these are the governing bodies making the rules, their websites will be the best source of information. Aside from the government pages, there are also other online casino review sites that can help give you the most important information.
GamblingCity is one of the leading sources of information on all topics related to online casinos. They only provide recommendations for top-rated, safe casinos for their readers and even have extensive reviews for potential players to read. Sites like these are wonderful because they’re unbiased, they give players crucial information and they do it for free.