When it comes to casino licensing in England, Scotland and Wales, this is strictly regulated by the Gambling Act 2005, which came into force across the UK on 1st September 2007, with further regulations coming into force in 2014. The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act of 2014 put in place further regulations to also incorporate the prolific rise of online casinos, which have become even more popular since the original act’s introduction in 2005.
There has also been an increase in the numbers of casino operators, affiliates and associates in the UK, with the industry being a very promising place to build a business. However, if you are considering starting a casino business, how do these regulations apply to business owners and what actions do you need to undertake to go about obtaining a casino license in the UK?
How do I Apply for a UK Casino Licence?
If you want to apply for a casino license otherwise known as an ‘operating licence,’ these are issued by the industry regulator and watchdog, the UK Gambling Commission.
The Gambling Commission is responsible for regulating casino gaming machine providers, bingo game providers, betting shops and companies, arcades, casinos, lottery operators, remote gambling and external lottery managers. You will need to obtain an operating licence in order to legally open facilities specifically for gambling purposes, and this applies to both physical casino premises as well as any casino facility that is to be available online (for example, online casino game providers and operators.)
You will need to make an application to the Gambling Commission and this can take up to 16 weeks to be processed. Prior to applying for an operating licence, you will need to make sure that you have the necessary documents to go ahead with an application that has a chance of succeeding. You must also make your operating licence application online. The Gambling Commission does not accept requests made by email or offline methods; applications must be completed in full on their website.
What Documents Do I Need to Apply for a Casino License?
For full details of the documentation and other specific requirements when it comes to applying for a license, check the Commission’s website, as some documents may not be necessary for your application, depending on the type of applicant you are (for example, sole trader, limited company or if you are part of a group.)
Operator identity documents required include those detailing:
- Share certificates
- Management structure
- Articles of association
- Partnership agreement
- Individual identity documents
- Certificate of incorporation
Policy documents showing:
- Rules of play
- Customer terms and conditions
- Operational model map
- Software supply method
- Audited accounts
- Proof of funding
- Business plan
- Bank statements for all accounts for the last six months
Financial documents showing:
- Annual returns
- Details of bonus or profit-sharing schemes
- Annual reports to regulators
- Insolvency if applicable
- Equity offerings or public debt
Key people documentation showing:
- Personal Management Licence application as well as supporting documents from each person who is responsible for a specified management office – they will need to submit their personal declarations online on the exact same day that you submit the operating licence application to the Gambling Commission.
You will need to make sure that you have submitted all the required documents as requested by the Gambling Commission’s application criteria, otherwise it could lead to your application being delayed of even rejected outright.
Annual Fees for a UK Casino License
Prior to making your application for an operating licence, you will need to verify exactly what type of licence you are required to apply for as a business owner. There are different kinds of license available in the UK and so it is crucial you only apply for that which you truly require.
It may be the case that you simply need to obtain just one kind of licence, but equally, it could be the case that your company requires all three, and all of which you apply for via the Gambling Commission.
Types of Casino Licenses in the UK
The available types of UK casino licences are:
- An operating licence
- A personal functional licence
- A personal management licence
You may also need to get a premises licence, but to get one you would need to apply through your Local Licensing Authority.
How are Applications Assessed?
The Gambling Commission takes into consideration their licensing objectives in order to make sure that you are a suitable applicant to carry out gambling activities. These criteria include:
- Financial Circumstances – This includes all people concerned in the application and their past and present finances. This also includes resources that are most likely to be available in order to conduct the licensed activities
- Levels of Integrity – The Gambling Commission considers your level of trustworthiness extremely important when assessing whether you should have an operating licence or not. The same applies to any other people relevant to the application you are making
- Level of Competence – The Commission will take into consideration your history, qualifications, expertise and your experience as well as people also involved in your application
- Your Criminal Record – As well as anyone else related to your application
How to Comply with Your Licence Conditions
It is important to remember that these are all strict licensing standards that are enforced by the Gambling Commission and you must adhere to them not being tempted to provide gambling services prior to gaining the Commission’s full approval.
You must meet the stipulated guidelines known as the ‘Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice’ also known by the acronym LCCP. Under these guidelines, applicants for an operating licence will need to meet eligibility criteria:
- The applicant will have to offer assistance programmes to help problem gamblers who become addicted or end up with a potential gambling problem (part of their Responsible Gambling obligations)
- The applicant should not exploit, harm or use children in their gambling activities in any way
- The applicant must provide gambling activities that are fair and open
- Gambling operators are obliged to help stop criminal activity that could be connected to gambling, such as money laundering
Casino License Categories in the UK
Due to the various forms of gambling that are now available both online and on premises across the UK, the lCCP has enacted a number of guidelines for each type of business and establishment. The eight categories defined by the LCCP are as follows:
- Lotteries and fundraising
- Gambling software
- Gaming machines
How Much do Casino Licences Cost?
The exact amount you will have to pay in fees to conduct gambling activities legally will be dependent on a number of factors. This includes things like the type of establishment that you run, the number of establishments you have in total and your annual gross income.
You can check online on the Gambling Commission’s website to find out how much you can expect to pay for the gambling services you are looking to provide, depending on the precise nature of your business.
Annual UK Casino Operating Licence Fees
It is worth remembering that the fees you need to pay must be paid on an annual basis in order to make sure that your operating licence remains valid and in date and importantly, it is not possible for you to pay in instalments. The Gambling Act of 2007 requires gambling operators to pay these annual fees in full before the anniversary date that is indicated on their operating licence.
If you find yourself in a position where you are unable to pay the annual operating licence fee, then the Gambling Commission will revoke your licence as it is a requirement of the Gambling Act 2005. You will not be able to conduct any gambling activities until a new licence has been paid for and provided.
It is possible to re-apply for a licence if it has been revoked due to being unable to pay the annual fee. However, you need to take into account the Gambling Commission will be taking into consideration your past and present financial circumstances nonetheless.