Bingo sites are generally very jolly places, full of colour and fun- even the sleeker casinos tend to have an air of entertainment and luxury.
However, underneath all this is quite a serious world of gambling and legality, one which has to be regulated in order to protect players and uphold the law.
That’s where licensing comes in, something that can easily go under the radar for many players, but in fact is vital to the smooth running of all your favourite bingo and slot sites.
These online casinos have licenses that are issued by government bodies, vital keystones in ensuring that they are above board, trustworthy and safe to use. The rule of thumb is pretty simple: always use licensed sites!
The primary reason is to uphold the law. Many countries will only allow a bingo site to operate, in other words, to accept customers from their population, if that site holds a license.
This is no different in practice to bars needing a license to sell beer; a casino wishing to take bets from British players, for example, must get a British license.
To be more specific, they would need a license from the UKGC or United Kingdom Gambling Commission. Not all countries require this, but it is typical of countries where gambling is legal.
The next reason for having a license ties in with responsible gaming, which is often stressed by whoever awards the license, as a measure to avoid problem gambling.
For example, the UKGC has a responsibility to the UK population to combat gambling addiction, so they only award licenses to operators who provide reasonable measures to help players control their spending.
A licensed site will almost always have a responsible gaming area, with options to cool down accounts or limit deposits. Note, however, that not all licensing bodies take the same approach.
Making sure that you use a licensed casino or bingo site is vital in ensuring your own safety online.
Sites that have these licenses must adhere to a level of safety and good practice, with any that break these rules facing huge fines or having their license revoked.
You can check that the site you’re visiting is licensed by looking for a seal of approval.
Typically, this information is found in the site footer (the very bottom of the home page, or often on all pages), or it may be in the About section of the site.
There should be some plain text stating the parent company name, where it is licensed and the number of that license, which allows you to then check that number, either by searching it on the relevant site or just by clicking a link if the bingo site has been helpful by providing one.
While checking for licensing, you should also keep an eye out for badges from other third-party groups like eCOGRA who regulate casino sites for safety and fairness.
You may also see the logo of the company that provides site security and any testing authorities used to ensure randomness in the games, such as iTech Labs.
The UKGC, for example, offer multiple types of licenses which apply separately to real world gambling businesses and online casinos.
Online casinos must go through a rigorous application process, which involves the company submitting detailed documents identifying the business, the owners and management structure. Companies also need some kind of address in the UK.
The site pays a fee for this application and has to wait around 16 weeks to be thoroughly checked out.
The UKGC has to feel that the company has sufficient competence, integrity and financial security to operate and uphold the requirements of the license. Companies must maintain this standard to keep the license, as well as paying an annual fee.
The process does vary from one licensing body to the next. Anyone who visits several bingo sites will start to see other bodies appear, such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission and the Isle of Man Gaming Commission.
This is typical in sites which cater to more than one nation’s citizens. Simply look out for sites that have a license that applies to you.
Yes, absolutely! There are unlicensed casinos out there, as well as some which appear to have licenses but provide very little detail about where the license is held and how to confirm it. Not all of these sites are criminal, naturally, but they also don’t have all the good points of licensed sites.
A site with a license is regulated and audited by the governing body, so your money is traceable right back to you, while the company is under scrutiny for good practice, adhering to the law, upholding responsible gaming and more.
There is no downside and plenty of upsides to only using sites that have gone through this rigorous checking process. Gambling is already risky, so why take a gamble on the safety and reputation of the site you use?
Bret Allen is an experienced journalist and freelance copywriter who specialises in the gambling sector and has written for various publications as well as one of the largest online gaming companies in the UK – Gamesys. Bret has a particular interest in slot games and knows his RTPs from his RNGs.
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