Casino player rights: How to stay protected in online casinos
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Casino player rights: How to stay protected in online casinos

Nov 14, 2023

Online casino gaming is hugely entertaining, but only if you can play in a safe way. The good news is that licensed UK casino sites are not only safe but offer the highest quality service possible.

Of course, some sites are better than others, which is why we test and review them all. However, in general terms, a licensed online casino is a safe one. This guide explains what that means in practice and provides some tips on how you can stay safe at all times.  

🦺 Who protects your rights as an online casino player?

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is the regulatory body that oversees the industry and, in turn, protects players. It protects players by enforcing the Gambling Act and licensing operators. Every operator licensed by the UKGC has gone through a series of stringent tests to ensure it offers the highest levels of protection. As such, a UKGC licence should be seen as a seal of approval or, more specifically, a mark of safety.

🌐 International gambling regulators 

Gambling regulators aren’t exclusive to the UK. Look at any online casino available around the world and it will be licensed by at least one governing body. In fact, what you’ll find is that many of the biggest online casino operators are licensed by multiple regulators. For example, BetMGM is licensed in a variety of US states, including New Jersey by the Division of Gaming Enforcement. It’s also licensed in the UK by the Gambling Commission. 

A good tip for staying safe online is to look for companies that are licensed in multiple jurisdictions. What you’re essentially getting is a company that’s been vetted and approved by different agencies which may have slightly different regulations. Passing multiple checks isn’t easy, so only an online gambling site that’s truly safe will be licensed by a selection of regulators. 

Having said this, any operator that’s licensed by at least one reputable agency will be safe. Some of the most respected online gambling authorities around the world are listed below:

As we’ve said, the UK Gambling Commission is also a legit regulator and, moreover, one of the strictest. One of the main reasons it’s so strict is that operators can only offer online casino gaming, poker, bingo, lotteries and sports betting in the UK if they have Gambling Commission licence. To put it another way, the Gambling Commission is the sole authority and, therefore, any casino wanting to serve UK players must pass its regulations. For you as a player, this means you should only use online casinos that have been licensed by the Gambling Commission. 

⚖️ What kind of rights do casino players have?

UK gambling regulations are designed to protect you, the consumer. This means you’re protected every step of the way and, moreover, have rights whenever you play online. Some of the rights you have as a player using licensed UK online casino sites are:

📖 Transparency and fairness of results

The beauty of online gambling is that everything is tracked. Every bet you make, every result a game churns out is recorded and stored in vast databases. These databases are important for a few reasons. 

Firstly, they allow independent agencies to test a casino game and verify it’s providing fair results. Secondly, it allows the UK Gambling Commission to review an operator’s results, deposits, withdrawals and payouts to ensure they’re all legit. Finally, it gives you access to your account history, including deposits, withdrawals, wins and losses. 

💳 Protection of privacy and banking information

Money matters when you’re playing online casino games, which is why you’ve got the right to feel safe each time you make a deposit or withdrawal. Licensed UK casino sites can only offer approved payment methods, all of which are institutions licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority. Some of the most popular ways to make deposits and withdrawals are Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Skrill. 

Your bets are also covered by the UK Gambling Act. All sites use SSL encryption technology to protect your personal and financial details. It also protects your bets. So, when it comes to making real-money bets, you’re protected. What’s more, if anything goes wrong and it’s not your fault, you have the right to a refund. 

🔐 Player funds segregation

One of the most important regulations added to the UK Gambling Act following the advent of online betting and gaming was ring-fenced accounts. Specifically, operators have to keep all player funds in segregated bank accounts. 

This means funds are ring-fenced so that operators can’t use your money to fund their own business activities. There are three ratings for bank accounts, as defined by the Gambling Commission: not protected, medium protection and high protection. We’ll explain what these ratings mean later in this guide. 

🔞 Protection against underage gambling

You must be 18 or older to use UK online gambling sites. Operators perform identity checks when you register and before your first withdrawal is authorised. You’ll need to verify your identity by sending a security team copies of your ID. 

✅ Appropriate gambling licence

You’ll only be protected by the UK Gambling Act if you use an appropriately licensed operator. Put simply, if you use an online casino that’s not licensed by the UKGC, you won’t have any rights. 

👩‍⚖️ Consumer Rights Act 2015

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 covers a number of points but the main one relates to your ability to cancel a service/return goods within a specific period of time. Essentially, this law allows you to reject a service during the cooling off period. Therefore, if you want to close your casino account and withdraw your funds within the cooling off period (this varies) you can do that with no questions asked.

💾 Data Protection Act 1998

The Data Protection Act applies to all companies with a digital presence, including gambling operators. The law governs how companies collect, store and use your data. As a consumer, you have the right to transparency, which means you can see the data held about you at any time. You can also request that your data be deleted in full at any time.

🎰 How to know whether a casino is safe

We can teach you the fundamentals of safety and security in online gaming, but you can’t become complacent. Yes, it’s true that we only recommend licensed, legit, and high-quality casinos. However, it’s important to do your own research. With this in mind, here’s how to check if an online casino is safe or not:

🕵️ Check for a valid casino licence

The easiest way to determine if an online casino is safe or not is to check its gaming licence. If it’s licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, you know that it meets all of the requirements we’ve listed with regards to financial safeguards, data protection, fair games and transparency. Again, we should also stress that only casinos licensed by the Gambling Commission are legal in the UK. 

⭐ Read reviews

Our reviews are invaluable when it comes to choosing the right online casino and determining whether it’s safe or not. We test every facet of a site to make sure it complies with gambling regulations and meets the standards expected of a legit operator. We play the games, we make deposits and we speak to the customer service team. We also take into account player reviews so we can form a well-rounded, honest assessment.

🛡️ Look for security measures

Scroll to the bottom of an online casino’s homepage and you’ll be able to see what security software it uses. SSL encryption should come as standard. A site should also be PCI compliant, which means it’s been certified by the Security Standard Council for meeting all current safety standards.

👨‍💻 Ensure that the games come from a safe and reputable providers 

The Gambling Commission regulates any company involved in the industry. This means software providers need to be approved by the Gambling Commission before they can supply games to UK-based casino sites. Software providers have to complete various checks before they’re approved, the main one being certificates of fairness provided by independent testing agencies. Some of the most reputable software companies to look out for are Microgaming, NetEnt, Play’n GO, Playtech, Evolution Gaming and Big Time Gaming.

📞 Test customer support responsiveness

The final way to test an online casino’s credentials is to contact the customer support team. Support agents need to be easily available, responsive and helpful. On a personal level, you should get a sense that customer support agents and, by extension the operator, care about your experience and wellbeing. 

📜 Which rules do I need to follow at online casinos?

There is a framework in place to keep you safe but, as we’ve said, some of the responsibility falls on your shoulders. Part of this responsibility is doing the necessary research to ensure you’re using a secure and reputable online casino. In addition to researching your options, you need to follow the rules below. Failure to adhere to the rules could result in you losing certain rights. So, to hold up your side of the bargain, here are the rules to follow: 

  1. Be of legal age: the legal gambling age in the UK is 18.
  2. Prove your identity: you need to provide correct information during the registration process and, subsequently, send the security team copies of your ID (e.g. passport or driver’s licence).
  3. Prove origin of funds: online casino operators can ask you for proof of income to prove that you’re capable/can afford to make deposits (this is more common for large deposits).
  4. Do not cheat at games: you must adhere to the casino’s house rules and act in the spirit of the game.
  5. Do not attempt to use your credit card: the Gambling Commission banned credit card payments to licensed UK gambling sites in 2020.
  6. Do not attempt to play if you after you’ve self-excluded: you can’t create a new account if you’ve chosen to restrict access to a gambling site/s.

📇 How will my personal information be used in a casino?

Your personal information will be held in conjunction with the Data Protection Act. This means it will be encrypted and stored safely for use by the operator. This can include account monitoring, marketing and sharing certain information with affiliated third parties. 

👮 Who enforces the Gambling Act of 2005?

The UK’s Gambling Act was created and signed into law by the government, but it’s enforced by the Gambling Commission. The Gambling Commission is an independent body that’s sanctioned by the government. In addition to enforcing regulations, the Gambling Commission is in charge of licensing operators. This means it performs various checks to ensure operators meet the standards set out by the Gambling Act. 

🆘 How can I raise a complaint with an online casino?

You’re entitled to complain if something goes wrong or isn’t to your satisfaction. Something you need to bear in mind is that the Gambling Commission doesn’t handle individual disputes. The Gambling Commission oversees the industry as a whole and takes action against operators, when necessary. For individuals, there are two ways to solve a dispute: with the operator or an independent third party. 

The steps for raising a complaint are:

  1. Check the online casino’s terms and conditions to see if your complaint is valid. 
  2. Contact the online casino operator. Alternatively, you can use a free online tool called Resolver.
  3. Follow the complaints procedure as advised. Include as much information as possible about your issue, including dates, times and any amounts of money involved. 
  4. Wait for a response. 
  5. Go back to the operator if you’re not happy with the outcome as you may be able to continue the lines of communication and resolve the issue. 
  6. If you’re not satisfied with the outcome, contact an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider. This is an independent organisation that will look into the issue and offer a resolution. Click here for more information on ADRs. 

⛔ How do I check if an online casino is licensed?

Scroll to the bottom of an online casino’s homepage and you should see the UK Gambling Commission’s stamp. This tells you it’s been licensed. Of course, there’s nothing stopping a rogue operator from faking an image of the stamp. Therefore, you can go to the Gambling Commission’s licence database to perform a secondary check. 

💰 How do I find out if an online casino segregates player funds?

All licensed UK online gambling operators are required to segregate player funds from their own. Therefore, if you use a licensed casino site, you know that your money will be ring fenced. However, while there is a requirement to ring-fence player funds, an operator can choose where your money is stored. 

The Gambling Commission has set out three ratings for bank accounts:

  • Not protected – funds aren’t protected against insolvency.
  • Medium protection – there are provisions in place to protect your funds against insolvency, but refunds aren’t absolutely guaranteed.
  • High protection – provisions are in place to protect your money, such as being held in a trust account, so there’s high chance you’ll get a refund if the operator becomes insolvent.

An operator can choose to put your funds into a bank account that meets any of these ratings. The Gambling Commission doesn’t have control over this. However, an operator must tell the Gambling Commission which rating level its bank accounts meet and, in turn, make it clear to customers when they make deposits. 

🔎 What is KYC? 

KYC stands for Know Your Customer and it’s a financial regulation that all businesses handling money need to abide by. A KYC check verifies a customer’s identity during the registration process and periodically while they’re account is active. 

💸 What happens to my money if a casino goes bust?

Your money should be safe if an online casino goes bust because player funds are ring-fenced. This means an operator can’t use your money for business purposes. As we’ve previously said, operators can store your funds in bank accounts with no protection, medium protection or high protection, as defined by the Gambling Commission. 

Naturally, the higher the level of protection, the better. What’s important to note, however, is that your funds may still be at risk if an online gambling operator goes bust. Going back to the previous section, an operator that keeps your funds in an account rated as “not protected” won’t have any provisions in place with respect to insolvency. So, you’re unlikely to get your money back if they go bust. 

Operators that meet the standards for medium and high protection back accounts are much more likely to issue refunds in the event of bankruptcy. Therefore, it’s best to choose UK online casinos that have medium or high rated bank accounts. Do this and use casino sites rated highly by our experts and you’ll be safe every time you play online.

About the author

Daniel Smyth

Daniel Smyth has seen the online poker, casino, and betting industry from every angle. He previously played poker semi-professionally before working at WPT Magazine as a writer and editor. From there, he transitioned to online gaming where he’s been producing expert content for over 10 years.

Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanSmythThePoet

Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chase their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
  • Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org

Find our detailed guide on responsible gambling practices here.

For help with a gambling problem, call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 or go to www.gamstop.co.uk to be excluded from all UK-regulated gambling websites.


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