UK Gambling License Review

Thinking about obtaining a UK gambling license for your iGaming business? This could be an excellent choice because the United Kingdom (UK) is the global online gambling industry’s largest market and its most lucrative.

There are approximately 24 million people in the UK who take part in online gambling at least once per month, which is about 44% of the nation’s adult (18+) population. Online betting and online gambling in the UK make up the largest combined sector for gross gambling yield (GGY). To put this into greater perspective, online gambling GGY in the UK hit £6.9 billion by the end of the 2020 – 2021 fiscal year, with £4 billion generated by online casinos alone. The bottom line: There’s money to be made in the UK iGaming sector.

However, if you wish to provide facilities for remote (online) gaming and advertise to residents in Great Britain, you will require a gaming license in the UK. Licenses are issued by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which is the governing body in the United Kingdom that regulates most of the remote and non-remote gambling activities in the jurisdiction.

The UK Gambling Commission has existed since 2005 and took over the duties and functions of the Gaming Board of Great Britain. It was created and empowered under the Gambling Act of 2005 for the purpose of regulating the UK gambling industry with a particular focus on online gambling. The Gambling Act of 2005 itself was created to significantly update the nation’s gambling laws. This not only included bringing the online gaming sector within British regulation for the first time, but also introducing a new structure of protections specifically designed for children and vulnerable adults to prevent gambling-related harm.

To this day, a license from the Gambling Commission is highly coveted in the iGaming industry. The UKGC’s stringent compliance protocols and dedication to responsible gambling is well known worldwide, and the regulator is often used as a prime example of iGaming regulator best practice in other countries. The Gambling Commission has issued over 3,600 licenses to 2,600+ online gambling companies and there are a minimum of 175 online casinos operating in Britain.

All that said, though a highly beneficial licence to hold, obtaining a UK remote gaming license isn’t easy and it doesn’t come cheap. Applicants must provide extensive documentation that proves their suitability, they will be subject to high application fees and ongoing costs, and they may need to apply for more than one license as a single licence does not cover all gambling activities. Additionally, operators need to be prepared to comply with the industry’s strictest regulations and practices.

Still interested and wondering how to get a UK gaming license or wondering if it fits into your budget? Keep reading our UK gambling license review to discover the information you need to help you decide if this jurisdiction is an ideal choice for your iGaming operation.

UK License Fast Facts

  • First gambling license issued – 2005
  • Regulator – UK Gambling Commission
  • License provider – UK Gambling Commission
  • Number of license types – 3
  • Approximate license costs – £10,000+ – £1,000,000+ (Cost depends on license type and an operator’s annual GGY)
  • Average time to obtain license – 16 weeks
  • License validity period – Indefinite

Types of Licenses – What Licenses Does the UK Offer?

Types of Licenses - What Licenses Does the UK Offer?

No matter where your company is based in the world, you will require a UK gaming license from the Gambling Commission if you want to offer gambling services to players in Great Britain. More specifically, to players residing in England, Wales, and Scotland.

There are three primary types of operating license offered by the Gambling Commission. These include:

  • Non-Remote
  • Remote
  • Ancillary

Depending on the gambling facilities you intend to operate in the UK, you may need one or a combination of these licenses.

Beyond the three main license options, UK gambling licenses are split up into different categories including: Arcades, Betting, Bingo, Casino, Gambling Software, Gaming Machines and License Activities. There is also a remote operating license for each type of gambling activity a business wants to provide. There is not one license that covers all activities.

For the purpose of our UK gambling license review, we’re focusing on B2C online gaming licenses. These include:

  • Remote Casino Operating License – This licence allows your business to offer games to customers through a website, mobile device, TV or other online service. Types of games covered include online slot games, roulette, blackjack, poker and other casino games.
  • Remote Bingo Operating License – This licence allows your business to offer games to customers though a website, mobile device, interactive TV services or radio technology.
  • Remote General Betting Standard Real Events License – This license allows your business to take bets on real events (e.g. sports games, eSports and other events) by means of an online platform, such as a website.
  • Remote General Betting Standard Virtual Events License – This license allows your business to offer betting on virtual races, competitions or other virtual events or processes (not including a game of chance) by means of an online platform, such as a website.
  • Remote Pool Betting License – This license allows you to run a pool betting business online or via other forms of remote communication. Pool betting includes football, horseracing, and other sports, as well as fantasy football-type competitions.

As you can see, there are several types of remote licenses, and you may require more than one to run your facility. For instance, if you would like to offer both online real event betting and virtual betting, you will need to obtain both the remote general betting standard real events license and the remote general betting standard virtual events license and pay for each separately.

Operating licenses are generally valid indefinitely unless your business declares insolvency or the UKGC suspends or revokes your license. That being said, although the licence is valid indefinitely, you will be subject to an annual renewal fee. The cost of the renewal depends on your company’s annual gross gambling yield. We’ll touch more on this in the UK gaming license cost section.

The License Process – How Do I Get a UK Gambling License?

The License Process - How Do I Get a UK Gambling License?

To apply for a gambling license from the Gambling Commission you need to be 18 years of age or older, you will need to provide specific documentation and meet suitability requirements. You will also be required to cover the fees associated with your application.

Requirements for obtaining a license

In essence, the UKGC assesses an applicant’s business intention, their ability to uphold the licensing objectives, and their suitability to carry out the permitted activities. Your suitability will be assessed based on evidence of identity, business ownership, integrity (evaluation of criminal records, etc.) past and present financial situation of the operation’s key individuals, and competence.

Suitability Assessment

More specifically, when considering suitability, the UK Gambling Commission wants to see specific evidence that supports and will enable proper assessment based on the following criteria:

  • Identity and ownership – You will need to disclose proof of your identity and the identity of other people who are relevant to the application (e.g. any person who owns a corporation that your business is a part of).
  • Finances – Your financial and other circumstances (past and present) as well as the financial and other circumstances of any key people to the application. This will include resources that are likely to be available to make it possible to carry out the licensed activities. The Commission will ask for accounts from existing businesses or financial projections if the applicant is a new business.
  • Integrity – Yours and any key persons’ honesty and trustworthiness will be assessed. This includes due diligence checks, assessment of criminal records, and considering any evidence of complaints or past involvement in civil or regulatory investigations or proceedings.
  • Competence – Providing information about your expertise, qualifications, experience, and history and about the people who are relevant to the application to prove that you can competently run the operation. It needs to be demonstrated that the relevant people can carry out the role that is required of them.
  • Criminality – If you or any key persons relevant to the application has a criminal record (past, current, or pending), this information must be provided.

Ultimately, The Gambling Commission wants to ensure that applicants will follow licensing objectives, that they understand the overall legislations, and that they will meet social responsibility requirements.

Necessary Documentation

Businesses are required to provide an extensive set of supporting documents as part of the application process. The documents required depend on the type of applicant you are.

To give you a general idea, the following is a look at some of the documents that may be requested from a B2C remote gambling applicant.

UK Gaming License - Required Application Documents

*Note: Other documents not listed above may be required for applicants who are sole trader, in a partnership, part of a group or are a limited company.

Business or correspondence address in the UK

While you can have a physical office in the UK, this is not required to obtain a gaming license in the UK. There is no requirement that an applicant must be incorporated in a particular country or jurisdiction.

However, according to the Gambling Commission “you must provide an address in the UK at which a document under the Act [Gambling Act 2005] may be served.” This means if your business’ head office and registered office are located overseas, you will need to provide a correspondence address located in the United Kingdom. This address cannot be a PO Box. It must be an address where there is a consistent staff presence or the address of an official representative of your business, such as an accountant, auditor, or solicitor. This address must be maintained throughout the entire period of time that you hold a UKGC license.

Additionally, if your business is overseas, you will need to provide copies of all gambling licenses you may hold from any other jurisdictions as well as a credit report.

Granting of license

On average it takes about 16 weeks to process a licensing application. If the application is granted and issued, it is imperative that you read through it to make sure all the details on the license are accurate and that you are familiar with the conditions that come with this license. Once you are a license holder, maintain compliance is mandatory. Failing to do so can result in fines, other penalties, or having your license revoked.

License Costs - How Much Does a UK License Cost?

License Costs – How Much Does a UK License Cost?

Operator license costs vary. Remote gambling operator licensees are required to pay an application fee and an annual fee. The fee is determined by their annual gross gambling yield.

The following table shows a breakdown of the different remote UK gambling license costs related to a remote casino licence, remote bingo license, remote virtual betting license, remote betting real events license, and remote pool betting license**.

UK Gambling License Cost-1
UK Gambling License Cost-2
UK Gambling License Cost-3

Essentially – using remote casino, bingo and virtual betting licenses as an example – at the lower end, operators with a GGY below £550,00 will be required to pay a £4,224 application fee and an annual fee of £4,199. Those on the higher end with a GGY of £1 billion or more will need to pay an application fee of £91,686 and an annual fee of £793,229 plus an extra £125,000 per additional £500 million of annual gross gambling yield.

A licensee’s first annual fee is due 30 days after their license has been issued and is reduced 25% (some exceptions apply) after this. Fees are due each year before the anniversary of the day your license was issued. Failing to pay the annual fees by the due date can lead to the revocation of your license

**Note: Keep in mind that the prices listed above are for informational purposes only to give you an idea of overall cost. Prices and fees may vary or may be subject to change.

Licensee Regulations – What Rules Am I required to Follow?

Licensee Regulations - What Rules Am I required to Follow?

The Gambling Commission has three primary objectives. These include:

  • Avoid or eliminate criminal or inappropriate behaviour
  • Maintain transparency of gambling companies
  • Provide help to vulnerable persons exposed to exploitation

To ensure they meet their objectives, the Gambling Commission imposes strict compliance and obligations on its licensees. As a holder of a UK gaming license, you are bound by the License Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP). This is an extensive document that outlines all requirements you are expected to follow. The strict guidelines require operators to be exceptionally vigilant in regard to KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (anti-money laundering).

The LCCP guidelines for operator license holders include:

  • Operating license condition (e.g. protection of customer funds, AML provision, game types and rules, payment, customer identity verification, responsible placement of digital ads, etc.)
  • Code of practice provisions (e.g. financial requirements, marketing, protection of vulnerable persons, complaints and dispute, etc.)

As a licensee it is imperative that you read and understand the LCCP document and maintain a fully compliant operation at all times.

In what regions does this license allow me to operate?

A UK gaming license allows you to operate and advertise to adult (18+) residents in Great Britain. This includes:

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales

License Pros and Cons – Is a UK License Right for Me?

License Pros and Cons – Is a UK License Right for Me?

The best way to determine if a licence from a certain jurisdiction is right for your specific gambling operations is to weigh the benefits and drawbacks.

UK gaming license advantages

  • Good international reputation – The UK Gambling Commission has one of the best reputations of any regulator in the world. Holding a license from the UKGC instantly gives your company prestige and reliability.
  • Access to the largest online gambling market in the world – As a UKGC licensee you can offer your services to residents across Great Britain as well as advertise to them. UK residents enjoy gambling and spend a lot of money on it.
  • Trusted by players – Players immediately trust companies with a license from the Gambling Commission because the UKGC is known for its strict rules and player protection protocols.
  • Fair and transparent terms of practices – Though strict, the Gambling Commission has transparent licencing terms, is reliable with operators, and will work with operators to help ensure fairness and compliance.

UK gaming license drawbacks

  • Lack of crypto support – Although the UKGC does not specifically ban cryptocurrency as a payment method for its licensees, due to the strict AML requirements imposed on operators by the Commission, it makes it next to impossible for operators to accept crypto due to the built-in anonymity of decentralized currency.
  • Cost – A UK online gambling license is easily one of the most expensive of any jurisdiction. Unless newcomers to the industry have a lot of capital to invest in their business, most start-ups cannot typically afford this license while they try to get their operation off the ground.

UK Gambling License FAQ

UK Gambling License FAQ
How much does a license cost?

Remote operator license costs vary and are dependent on the operator’s annual GGY. Depending on the license, the application fee can be as low as £4,224 and the annual fee can be as low as £4,199 for GGY below £550,000. Or the application fee can be as high as £91,686 and the annual fee can be as high as £793,229 plus an extra £125,000 per additional £500 million of annual gross gambling yield for GGY of £1 billion+.

How long does it take to get a gambling license with UK?

It takes approximately 16 weeks on average for the Gambling Commission to process an operating license application.

What type of license do I need?

The type of license you require depends on the type of gambling activities you’re offering. For instance, if you wish to run an online casino as well as offer real event betting and virtual betting, you will require three separate remote licenses from the UKGC.

Why is UK gambling a good license to get?

The UK Gambling Commission is one of the most respected regulators in the world and a leader in its field. It is trusted by both players and gambling businesses – from software companies, game developers, and payments providers – alike. Owning this license immediately lifts the status of your company and gives you access to the largest online gambling market in the world.

Is an online gambling license really necessary to target UK players?

Yes. If you want to be able to legally advertise and offer your gambling services and products to residents of the United Kingdom, you will require a legitimate license from the UKGC. If you are caught targeting players in the region without an appropriate license you can face legal action, including steep fines and even jail time. You should always obtain the appropriate license from the gaming control board that governs the jurisdiction you’re targeting.

How Can Casinnovate Help Me Get a UK License?

Casinnovate understands that navigating the complex and highly bureaucratic licencing process can be daunting even to an experienced operator. We can help connect you to the top professionals in the industry with the expertise you require to obtain a license in this jurisdiction and/or can provide you with products and services that are UKGC compliant.

Some of the software platform providers we recommend who may be able to support you with your UK gambling licensing goals or who can provide you with compliant solutions include:


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Have more questions about a UK gaming license or want to get in touch to discuss how we can help with other areas of your iGaming business? Drop us a line!