Internet Bingo Regulation and Regulators in the UK

In many cases businesses resist regulation but this has not been the case with the internet bingo industry. Thanks to the gambling act of 2005 and the gambling commission established by the act the UK has a mature and thriving internet bingo and gaming market. Bingo has long been a cultural phenomenon in the UK and the game has been popular since the end of the Great War.

Just a few years ago only 1% of all bingo players went online but since then the numbers have increased. The UK Gambling Commission, which is part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is charged with the regulation and oversight of internet bingo and gambling. The commission is also charged with monitoring game fairness, crime prevention in the gaming industry and keeping the vulnerable and under aged safe. When the industry was in its infancy the potential for unfair gaming was significant. When the first bingo sites were launched in the mid to late 90’s credit card fraud and identity theft were more common than they are today. Since so many transactions are processed by internet bingo operators the potential for fraud is always a cause for concern. To be licensed in the UK internet bingo sites must show proof that all transactions are stored and transmitted securely and use encryption and password protection.

The authors of the 2005 Gambling Act saw the potential for defrauding players out of their rightful winnings. To be licensed and stay licensed internet bingo operators must prove that they have sufficient operating funds to pay players and operate the site smoothly. They must also provide the terms and conditions and other details of any bonuses, promotions and prizes. Internet bingo was also seen as a possible vehicle for money laundering.

Basically money laundering is disguising illegal money to make it appear that the money was acquired by legal means. While the methods used for money laundering are varied regulators saw that internet bingo offered criminals an unprecedented level of sophistication and took steps to prevent the possibility of money laundering. Because of money laundering concerns online bingo operators must make their financial records available for inspection by regulators anytime. The financial records must also be audited by auditors that are not part of the bingo organization. The system established in the UK has worked very well for years and could serve as a template for other countries that are in the process of internet gambling legalization.