Bookmakers are regulated in the UK by the Gambling Commission, which provides licences allowing them to offer land-based or online betting. Forms of betting covered by the licences include the most common fixed odds wagers available at most sportsbooks as well as pool betting, where winning punters claim a dividend from the prize pot, much like a lottery.
Before a bookmaker can gain a licence, they must provide information on the identity, financial stability, integrity and competence of those in charge. Checks are made into criminal records too before a decision is reached on each individual case.
Betting operators must comply with the terms of their licence, which the Gambling Commission enforces by making regular visits to the bookmakers’ sites, reviewing their financial records and offering them guidance. This helps create an industry that places paramount importance on the safety of customers and the fairness of its games and markets.
If betting licences are breached, the Gambling Commission can hit the offending party with sanctions, increased regulation or even by instigating criminal proceedings.
Although anyone offering betting products to UK consumers is subject to regulation by the UK Gambling Commission as well as a point of consumption tax of 15 percent on profits, many online bookmakers choose to be based in jurisdictions around the world, taking advantage of lower tax burdens which can often be found there. However, they must be regulated in these territories as well. Here are the conditions they are expected to meet in major gambling jurisdictions from around the world:
Anyone wanting to operate from Alderney must register as a company on the island, issue a notice announcing their application in the Alderney Gazette and pay a £10,000 deposit so they can have their suitability investigated by the island’s Gambling Control Commission.
The Commission dissects the business plan and, once a licence is granted, regularly tests gaming equipment for fairness. Sky Bet is one of the sportsbooks to be licensed in Alderney as well as through the UKGC.
Comprehensive information on any individual who holds more than a five percent share in a potential licensee is demanded by the Antigua Directorate of Offshore Gaming. Firms must put up a non-refundable fee of US$15,000 to pay for their suitability to be investigated.
Bookmakers in Gibraltar pay a yearly fee to hold a licence for a gambling business that must be taxed and managed within the British Overseas Territory. The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority currently states that it will only offer licences to “blue chip companies with a proven track record in gambling”. Online sportsbooks such as 888Sport and William Hill are run from Gibraltar.
Online gambling became the biggest industry on the island in the financial year 2013-14, having been regulated there since 2001. Prospective licensees have to prove their integrity and financial stability, with an annual fee securing a licence for up to five years before it needs to be renewed. Paddy Power and Boylesports conduct their sportsbook operations from the Isle of Man.
In 2004, Malta became the first EU country to regulate online gambling. Overseen by the Malta Gaming Authority, regulators in the country are responsible for auditing potential licensees in order to assess their integrity, along with testing their technical and business capabilities. Compliance tests are regularly administered once a licence has been granted.