How to get a gambling licence in the UK 2022

icon-author Petr Stehlik 📅 Updated 5 January, 2022 🕐 9min. 👁 7897
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There are large online gambling markets, and then there’s the United Kingdom. Learn what it takes to obtain a pass to the promised land — a UK remote gambling licence — in this guide.

The United Kingdom is home to the world’s largest online gambling market, eclipsing even its Western European peers in sheer size. Operators wishing to enter it need to acquire a local licence issued by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission — perhaps the most coveted seal in the iGaming industry.

To obtain a UK remote gambling licence, operators must provide extensive documentation to prove their suitability, and comply with strict regulations and practices. These licences don’t come cheap, but successful operators will find that they’re well worth the effort and cost in the long run. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about UK gambling licences and how Slotegrator can help you to obtain one.

Why get a UK gambling licence?

The United Kingdom is by far the world’s largest online gambling market.

In the six months between April and September 2020, the British gambling industry’s total gross gambling yield (GGY; comparable to gross gaming revenue — GGR) amounted to £5.9 billion (€7 billion / $7.96 billion as of November 2021), 52.3% of which — £3.1 billion — coming from the remote sector. Remote GGY rose to an astounding £6.9 billion by the end of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, for a growth of 18.4% over the first semester. Online casinos generated an imposing £4 billion, while betting totalled £2.6 billion and bingo accounted for the rest of the GGY.

How to get a gambling licence in the UK 2022 0

Fuelled by the forced closures of land-based establishments during lockdown, the sector has further consolidated its leading position on the international stage. For context, the second largest online gambling market in Europe, Italy, recorded €2.47 billion in GGR during 2020 — less than a third of the United Kingdom’s.

Given these numbers, it’s easier to see why the British online gambling market is so attractive to operators. In total, the United Kingdom is home to 2,439 licenced gambling operators, 599 of which offer online services.

Key UK remote gambling licences

These licences are issued by the local regulatory body, the Gambling Commission (UKGC). The UKGC is also tasked to monitor operators’ compliance with the provisions set forward in the Gambling Act 2005. While the Gambling Act was extremely comprehensive at the time of its issuing, technological advances over the past decade mean that it’s ill-equipped to deal with some of the latest developments in iGaming — especially the rise of cryptocurrency and blockchain-based entertainment products. While the law was amended in 2014 and again in 2021 to deal with remote gambling-related issues, the Gambling Act is likely to undergo a comprehensive overhaul in the coming years.

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All operators based in the United Kingdom, or offering their services to British customers, are required to obtain one or more local licences. The UKGC issues a wide variety of permits; obtaining one takes about 16 weeks. In this article, we’ll focus on the key remote operating licences, which are:

Remote casino operating licence

Allows operators to offer casino games remotely — e.g., via a website. This covers table games like poker, roulette, and blackjack, as well as online slots.

Remote general betting standard virtual events licence

Allows operators to offer fixed-odds betting services on virtual events (e.g., virtual races) remotely. Betting on real events can’t be offered under this licence.

Remote bingo operating licence

Allows operators to offer bingo games to customers remotely.

Remote general betting standard real events licence

Allows operators to offer fixed-odds betting services on real events (e.g., sports matches) remotely. Betting on virtual events can’t be offered under this licence.

Remote pool betting licence

Allows operators to offer pool betting services remotely. In pool betting, pay-outs are calculated by dividing the total amount staked (minus commission) by the number of winners rather than according to fixed odds.

Documentation required to obtain a UK gambling licence

The UKGC assesses all applications considering two main factors: the business’ intention and ability to uphold the licensing objectives, and suitability to carry out the allowed activities. The assessment of suitability process aims at finding evidence of identity and ownership, past and present financial circumstances of all relevant individuals, integrity (including criminal records evaluation), and competence. For this reason, businesses are required to provide an extensive set of documents at the moment of application.

Some depend on the type of entity applying for a licence — for example, a sole trader must provide their identity documents, whereas a limited company would have to provide an ownership structure diagram, a management structure, articles of association, certificate of incorporation, and memorandum of association.

Entities based abroad must provide a credit report, and, if they are licenced elsewhere, a copy of the gambling licences issued by other jurisdictions.

How to get a gambling licence in the UK 2022 1

Others depend on the type of licence the entity is applying for. In the case of a remote licence, it’s necessary to provide documentation regarding remote-specific policies and procedures, the software and gambling software supply, the operational model, and a system diagram for end-to-end process.

Finally, some are considered “core” documentation, and are required in any case. These include general policies and procedures (which must meet the standards set forth in the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice, LCCP), customer terms and conditions, rules of play, bank statements for the previous 6 months for all accounts, proof of funding, business plan, and profit and loss projections for the following 3 years. Those responsible for management of the business will also have to provide a Personal Management Licence (PML) and/or an Annex A personal declaration form, depending on the specific circumstances.

Compliance and obligations: the LCCP

One of the reasons why a UKGC licence is so highly valued by operators and players alike is that it demonstrates operators’ commitment to running a compliant business. Licensees are bound by the LCCP, an extensive document outlining all the requirements that operators must fulfil. The requirements set are quite strict — particularly when compared to those of other jurisdictions — and require operators to be extremely vigilant, particularly regarding know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) topics.

The LCCP is divided into three parts.

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The first part covers the operating licence condition. Among other topics, it covers:

  • Technical standards and equipment specifications
  • Protection of customer funds
  • Payment
  • General “fair an open” provisions
  • Game types and rules
  • AML provisions
  • Customer identity verification
  • Responsible placement of digital ads

The second part covers the code of practice provisions. Here are some key topics:

  • Financial requirements
  • Protection of vulnerable persons
  • Detailed “fair and open” provisions
  • Marketing
  • Complaints and disputes

The third and final part of the LCCP briefly covers the obligations for personal licence holders.

Application and annual fees of UK gambling licences

The licences listed above have varying application and annual fees. These depend on the type of licence as well as on the business’ GGY.

Remote casino, general betting virtual events, and bingo licence fees

When it comes to remote casino, remote general betting virtual events, and remote bingo operating licences, operators are divided in nine brackets according to their GGY. At the lower end of the spectrum, operators with a GGY below £550,000 will be expected to pay an application fee of £4,224 and an annual fee of £4,199. At the opposite end, operators with a GGY of £1 billion or greater are subject to a £91,686 application fee and an annual fee of £793,729 plus £125,000 per additional £500 million of GGY.
 

Annual GGY (£)

Application fee (£)

Annual fee (£)

< 550,000

4,224

4,199

550,000 - 2 million

10,323

10,056

2 million - 5.5 million

10,323

14,694

5.5 million - 25 million

16,235

20,626

25 million - 100 million

23,834

55,089

100 million - 250 million

38,363

105,626

250 million - 550 million

54,131

211,505

550 million - 1 billion

91,686

599,979

> 1 billion

91,686

793,729 plus 125,000 per additional 500 million GGY

Remote general betting standard real events licence fees

Remote general betting standard real events licences use a 10-bracket system. The bottom and top brackets— below £550,000 and £1 billion or more — remain the same, but both middle brackets and fees differ from those of the licences listed above. Operators with a GGY below £550,000 have to pay £4,693 for the application fee and £5,282 in annual fees. Operators with a GGY of £1 billion or greater are to pay a £41,243 application fee and £1,077.027 — plus £200,000 per additional £500 million of GGY — in annual fees.

Annual GGY (£)

Application fee (£)

Annual fee (£)

< 550,000

4,693

5,282

550,000 - 2 million

4,693

13,432

2 million - 5.5 million

4,693

15,536

5.5 million - 15 million

10,323

51,334

15 million - 55 million

10,323

72,365

55 million - 110 million

13,643

116,602

110 million - 220 million

23,435

213,052

220 million - 550 million

28,154

435,640

550 million - 1 billion

41,243

767,027

> 1billion

41,243

1,077,027 plus 200,000 per additional 500 million GGY

Remote pool betting licence fees

Finally, the remote pool betting licence also uses 10 brackets, but limits and fees are entirely unique. Operators with a GGY below £1.5 million must pay £938 for the application and £2,406 in annual fees. The top bracket — £1 billion or greater — are subject to a £7,030 application fee and an annual fee of £907,832 plus £150,000 per additional £500 million of GGY.

Annual GGY (£)

Application fee (£)

Annual fee (£)

< 1.5 million

938

2,406

1.5 million - 3 million

1,414

16,053

3 million - 7.5 million

1,414

19,054

7.5 million - 15 million

2,342

34,776

15 million - 55 million

2,342

58,537

55 million - 110 million

2,918

90,291

110 million - 220 million

7,030

165,081

220 million - 550 million

7,030

385,189

550 million - 1 billion

7,030

675,332

> 1 billion

7,030

907,832 plus 150,000 per additional 500 million GGY

What are the downsides of a UK gambling licence?

The biggest limitation imposed by a UK licence at present has to do with cryptocurrency-based services. To be clear, the UKGC doesn’t outright ban cryptocurrencies as a method of payment on licenced platforms. However, the built-in anonymity of cryptocurrencies makes it nigh impossible for operators to accept them while satisfying the strict AML requirements imposed by the UKGC.

If you’re keen to offer a cryptocurrency-based online casino to your players, as things stand a British licence is probably out of the cards.

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How can Slotegrator help you get a UK gambling licence?

Applying for a gambling licence isn’t a straightforward process. The smallest mistake in the documentation provided may result in a long delay, and, with the baseline wait between application and issuing of the licence set at four months, that’s the last thing you want.

To avoid unnecessary headaches, you can rely on our jurisdictional advisory and licence acquisition services. Our team of specialists will be able to successfully guide you through the application process to obtain a UK gambling licence without skipping a beat. To learn more about our services, get in touch with our sales team today!


 

Petr Stehlik
Petr Stehlik
Lawyer
In 2016, I graduated from the Law Faculty of Charles University in Prague. The main area of law on which I focused both during and after my university studies is software law (and intellectual property in general). After graduating from the university, I briefly worked at a medium-sized law firm in Prague, but in 2018 I joined Slotegrator, where I have been working ever since and where I handle the company’s day-to-day legal matters.
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