It has now been confirmed that all bingo sites that accept PayPal in 2015 will be legally required to own a UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) license in an agreement set up between the UK Government and PayPal and Mastercard. Any UK Bingo Sites which fail to meet these regulations could have transactions via these two payment processors blocked, as PayPal and Mastercard will have the ability to cancel any transactions to unlicensed websites.
This new development follows changes implemented by UKGC in November 2014 under the Gambling (Licencing and Advertising) act. According to this act, whilst before gambling websites could operate in the UK with a gambling license from Gibraltar, the law has now been updated so that all bingo sites that accept UK players are required to have a UK license in order to continue operating here.
Of course, these new licensing laws apply primarily to sites operating from outside the UK, as UK based companies need to have a gambling license to operate here anyway. However, there will also be some rogue gambling sites trying to operate without a UK license. Up until recently, it was thought that very little could be done by the UK Government to prevent this. In March of 2014, the House of Lords voted against an amendment which would have granted the Gambling Commission additional powers disallow funds to unlicensed gambling site. Had the bill been passed, the UKGC would have had the power to prevent transactions between residents of the UK and websites without a licence. The overall conclusion of the debate, tabled by Baroness Howe of Idlicote, was that whilst the powers were necessary to ensure the financial security of consumers online, the proposal as it was did not provide enough detail on how the powers could be credibly enforced by the UK Government. It was also argued that the UK Govt. does not have the time or the resources to track down every illegal gambling site operating within the UK. For more information, check out the story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/house-of-lords-26443493
Despite these initial misgivings, it looks as though the Gambling Commission has found a neat way around these difficulties by teaming up with PayPal and Mastercard. By working with these two payment processors, the Government can keep a closer eye on any illegal practices going on within the online gambling industry.
But what does this increased regulation of the gambling industry mean for consumers? Well, there’s both good news and bad news. The bad news is that if there is a bingo site which you particularly enjoy, and they fail to obtain a UK gambling license, then there is a good chance that they will be unable to operate in the UK anymore – or if they do, they will not be able to accept Mastercard or PayPal any longer. This is more likely to affect Mastercard users, as PayPal’s rules on gambling transactions are already rather tight.
However, the good news is that this will force more gambling and bingo sites to get a UK license. This is actually a very positive move for players, because it means that you can have a better standardised idea of what your rights are when trading with online bingo operators. There is room for more transparency and, most importantly, protection against match fixing. So overall, the changes will make the world of online gambling fairer and more secure.
With this in mind, if you do find yourself in the position where one of your favourite gambling sites can no longer operate here, perhaps you should ask yourself why they couldn’t obtain a UK license in the first place? Overall, you’re probably better off playing on a bingo or casino site which is able to comply with the UK gambling standard – and you will probably be thankful in the long run.