There are various forms of legal betting in the UK; these include casinos, online (remote) gambling, sports betting, lotteries, bingo, arcades, and other forms of wagering. In the last decade, due to the advancements of the modern world, the gambling industry in the UK has expanded, and online casinos have gained immense popularity. The diversity of casino games provided by UK online casinos is unrivalled, including multiple slot games, bingo, table games, etc. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), on behalf of the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS), is responsible for regulating the gambling industry under the Gambling Act 2005. A major responsibility of this Gambling Commission is to grant licenses to online gambling operators to protect both the player and the operator. When players bet with a licensed operator, they can rest assured that the games will be verifiably fair and safe. While the UKGC issues licenses to online gambling operators, it also has the power to revoke them as well. The following article discusses the recently suspended casinos in the UK and the reason for their suspension.
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On What Basis Can UKGC Suspend A Casino?
No company or operator can provide legal gambling services to British bettors without the approval of the UKGC. Anyone wishing to do so must apply for a gambling license from the regulator. The licensing process is lengthy and involves a detailed investigation of the operator’s background. Even after the issuance of the licence, the gambling commission makes sure that the firm follows all gambling regulations. The main objectives of the UKGC include:
- Ensuring that no criminal activity takes place
- Protecting vulnerable people and children from exploitation by gambling companies
- Verify that the company conducts gambling fairly.
Suppose the gambling commission knows that a licenced gambling operator has breached the law. After investigating the issue, it has the authority to enforce action against the company, including issuing a penalty fee and revoking or suspending their licence under section 118 of the Gambling Act 2005. This section states that the regulatory body has the right to suspend a licence if the licensee conducts activities inconsistent with the licencing objective.
Genesis Global Limited
Genesis Global Limited is an online gambling company that offers online casinos, sportsbooks, and live casinos. The company is licenced and regulated by Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). This gambling business runs 14 online casinos, including casinocruise.com, genesiscasino.com, and casinoplanet.com. In July 2020, the regulator originally suspended Genesis Global Limited’s licence from operating in Britain after an inquiry revealed significant social responsibility and money laundering failures. But the commission revoked the suspension just three months after, following significant compliance improvements. The UK gambling commission continued its investigation into its activities which finally concluded in January 2022. The commission issued a warning, added a license condition that demanded further auditing and imposed a fine amounting to £3.8 million. Following these events, the Commission’s Executive Director, Helen Venn, stated that all the gambling businesses should pay close attention to this case.
The UKGC reviewed section 116 of the gambling act 2005, which resulted in the immediate suspension of the remote gambling licence of BGO Entertainment. The review and suspension took place following concerns that the activities of the online operator may be contrary to the Act or the conditions of their license. BGO Entertainment is an online gambling company that is privately owned and was launched in 2012. This company runs several brands, including BGO, Chilli Casino, Powerspin, and VegasLuck. The suspension was permitted under section 118(2) of the Gambling Act 2005. The UKGC has provided no further details regarding the immediate suspension but stated that the operator should keep its customers informed of the latest developments that may concern them.
The commission also did not state whether the current licence suspension correlates to the 2020 licence condition. In October 2020, BGO Entertainment had to pay a £2 Million penalty following several customer care and AML control failures. The suspension does not prevent the customers of BGO from accessing their accounts or withdrawing funds, but they will remain unable to deposit or play until further notice.
The UKGC issued a fine of £1.17 million to the online casino -owned by the gambling giant Flutter Entertainment- Sky Vegas for sending free spins promotions to recovering addicts. The online casino sent out a promotional offer of “Spend £5 get 100 free spins” to over forty-one thousand people who had voluntarily unsubscribed from the online operators marketing emails to stop themselves from gambling. In November 2021, the casino sent out the promotion again to nearly 250k people who had also voluntarily opted out from receiving such promotions. Ironically, this issue emerged during the same time as the gambling sector’s annual Safer Gambling Week, where they boasted about their improved safer gambling measures. The incident prompted concern that the message could have triggered relapse among British gambling addicts. This was brought to the attention of the UKGC, and they enforced preventive measures accordingly.
The UK gambling industry is going through many changes, and it has been for a couple of years. In all these years, the UKGC has worked closely with the British Government and has successfully put restrictions in place to limit potential harm to the consumers, both financially and mentally. Moreover, it ensures that the gamblers of the UK can have a safe experience while simultaneously enjoying themselves.