The Online Casino Industry in The United Kingdom has been under a great deal of scrutiny recently, due to the Paradise Papers. The papers reveal that some of the worlds largest banks and their affiliates have been taking advantage of weak regulatory frameworks in order to increase their profits and retain clients. This is just the latest case of offshore banking in the UK, as the scandal surrounding the leaking of confidential information from one of the world’s biggest banking databases has also rocked the industry. There is no doubt that the situation has had a negative impact on the reputation of the UK gambling industry, but the government is determined to prevent future scandals such as the ones that have rocked the industry in the past. The Gaming Commission has launched an investigation into how the online casino industry is regulated and operates, looking at the relationships between online casinos and payment processing companies.
While the Gaming Commission seems determined to root out any wrongdoing by the online casino industry, it will be interesting to watch the progress of this process. The Gaming Act of 2021 sets out the minimum standards for online casinos, but it is believed that many UK casinos have either not adhered to these regulations or have not applied them altogether. The result has been an increase in complaints from individuals about payment malpractice and other problems. This may well prompt the reexamination of the relationship between the online casino industry and payment processors.
The Gaming Commission seems determined to apply its pre-publish guidelines for the online casino industry in the UK, which means that all licensed retailers have to apply to the Gambling Commission for inclusion on the Register of Solicitor Services. These retailers must provide proof that they are acting in the best interests of the gaming industry as a whole. The current guidelines state that if a retailer is providing a service that is intended for use by other members of the public, the retailer must also inform the Gambling Commission of this intention. Payment processing companies are not required to inform the Commission of their client, nor are they obliged to ensure that their processors have a good reputation. If they make bad faith payments, the online casino industry can choose to report these activities to the Gambling Commission who will then investigate the matter and decide whether action needs to be taken.
The Gambling Commission’s role in this situation is to protect the online casino market in the UK from unlawful payments to customers. The Commission’s investigation into payment processing companies should be complemented by action from UK local government officials such as the Financial Services Authority, who are expected to examine the relationships between online casinos and payment processors. A recent case highlighted the risk of accepting payment from an unaccredited processor with the possibility of opening the online casino to legal liability. If the UK online casino did not follow the recommended procedure and did not register itself as a member of an accepted Payment Processor Association, it could be subject to legal action.
The Gambling Commission’s role is important when it comes to online casinos as payment processing can sometimes be susceptible to fraud which compromises the security of the online casino site. The Commission must continually monitor payment processors to ensure that their activities do not pose a risk to the integrity of the online casino market in the UK. It may be beneficial for UK online casinos to become members of payment processor associations such as the Payment Service Provider Alliance (PSAA) and Payment Gateway Alliance (PGA). These associations work with responsible Payment Service Providers to conduct background checks on members to verify their commitment to privacy and security.
The Gambling Commission has a role to ensure that there is a transparent and consistent application of UK laws regarding online casinos and related matters. This can be achieved by regularly publishing the Annual Credit Licensing Report which provides a detailed overview of the activities of the various UK payment processors including payment service providers and payment gateways. The Gambling Commission publishes its Consumer Price Index, which enables the public to compare prices charged by different online casinos and online payment processors. The Commission also ensures that an annual code of practice is published to which online casinos must adhere. The Code of Practice is designed to ensure that the sites can offer games to people from all walks of life while maintaining a competitive edge against other online casinos.
The Gambling Commission works in partnership with local councils to ensure that communities are able to benefit from online casino development in the UK. The Gambling Commission also ensures that laws are complied with and that gaming is conducted in an efficient and sensible manner. The Gambling Commission also offers advice to local authorities and councils in terms of planning and licensing in line with the planning regulations and can assist in providing advice regarding the development of new online casinos. The Gambling Commission also encourages and assists new online casino operators and members to participate in the regulated sector.
In order to contribute to the betterment of online gaming in the UK and the regulation of its activities, the Gambling Commission produces and disseminates information and guidelines via the Internet. The Internet has proved to be a very effective and efficient medium in disseminating information and in ensuring that it reaches the decision makers. The Commission has published a range of web pages on its official website in order to provide gamers with further information and to enable them make informed decisions. The Gambling Commission also disseminates information concerning the operation of UK online casinos to members and gamer partners and conducts seminars and educational sessions.