Ever been tempted to try a non gamstop casino in the UK? That is to say, an online casino site that’s not licensed by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC)?
‘Not licensed’ can sound like a scary term, especially when it comes to a website you’re expecting to be able to trust with your hard-earned money! But don’t worry, it doesn’t mean these are hardened criminals looking to swindle you. There are many jurisdictions in the world that license online casinos or betting sites, with the UK being only one of them. Just because a site does not possess a UKGC licence, that does not mean it is unlicensed.
You may have heard that the UK’s regulator, the UKGC, has some of the most stringent licensing requirements in the world. It’s true – players in the UK are protected by some of the strictest and most far-reaching regulations in the industry, both in terms of the protection of player funds and the provision of responsible gaming tools.
But casino sites licensed abroad can have a lot to offer UK players looking for a casino experience with a difference. In this article we’ll explore just what those differences are, the legal situation for UK players on non UK sites, and the key role of Gamstop in protecting vulnerable players. It’s not our intent to direct readers to one site or another, but to furnish them with all the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves.
The role of Gamstop
Players outside the United Kingdom are unlikely to be familiar with the Gamstop name, but those in the UK have probably seen its logo here and there. It’s a scheme which aims to help those dealing with gaming problems limit or restrict their own access to gaming sites. It’s 100% voluntary, but also irreversible until the pre-set exclusion period is over, and what’s more the ban operates across different brands and platforms.
The result is that, once you have opted in for a Gamstop ban, you may not play on any UKGC-licensed site – even if you have never previously had an account with that site. Players who change their mind, or experience a change in circumstances that leads to them wishing to play once more, are unable to do so on UK sites.
However, this exclusion does not apply to non Gamstop casinos, which remain available to UK players serving Gamstop bans. If you are such a player, it’s important to consider why you requested the exclusion in the first place, and whether you feel confident you can control your play in the less regulated environs of a non UK casino. These non-UKGC sites also generally offer fewer responsible gaming tools within the site software itself, so reining in any destructive tendencies could be even harder than on a UK site. Always think carefully and read any small print before signing up to any gambling service, but especially if you have experienced gambling problems in the past.
Non Gamstop casinos explained
There is a huge number of non Gamstop casino and betting sites available on the internet, so it’s reasonable to ask: if these are reputable and fun places to play, why haven’t you heard of them?
The simple answer is that, without a UKGC licence, these sites are not legally permitted to market themselves to players in the UK. Often licensed abroad in jurisdictions like Panama, Costa Rica and Curacao, they pay their taxes there and abide by the rules and regulations imposed by their own regulators. Paying taxes to the UK on gross gaming revenue, which they would need to do for a UKGC licence, doesn’t make sense for these international operators, and so you will not see them advertised as you would the large, high street bookmakers and established casinos of the UK.
As mentioned above, the UK imposes some of the strictest regulations on its licensed gaming operators, with other regulators operating to different – usually lower – standards. This does not mean your experience with a non Gamstop casino will be a poor one, but it is reasonable to assume you may not receive as high quality service when it comes to customer support, player fund protection or responsible gaming, as you would with an established UK casino site. It’s up to every individual to evaluate what’s important to them, and make their own decision.
Are non Gamstop casinos legal to play?
In the case of any doubt, be assured that it is 100% legal for UK players to sign up and play with non Gamstop casinos and betting sites.
Per the information above, non Gamstop sites based abroad are not legally permitted to market themselves to UK players, so your lack of awareness of certain brands is simply the result of those brands following the rules set out by the UKGC.
Why avoid non Gamstop gambling sites?
Would you try a non Gamstop casino site? Like anything in life, there are pros and cons to weigh up. Let’s look first at the cons.
- For many players, the established casino sites licensed by the UKGC are already perfectly placed to serve their needs, as they do not need much higher stakes or limitless deposits.
- Playing at a UKGC site, you can rest assured you have numerous responsible gaming tools available on each site, as well as the catch-all measure of Gamstop if necessary.
- Using a brand you are familiar with through advertising creates confidence in that brand. Non Gamstop sites are unable to advertise in the UK and so have an ‘unknown’ quality.
Why try non Gamstop gambling sites?
On the other hand, many customers from the UK are already playing at these sites, so there must be good reasons to create accounts there. Let’s take a look.
- With fewer regulatory requirements, it’s usually possible to maintain greater levels of anonymity at a non UK site.
- Many sites offer innovative or interesting payment methods, such as cryptocurrencies.
- Certain unpopular measures introduced by the UKGC – such as enforced delays between slots spins – are absent from games available at non Gamstop casinos.
Any gambler knows that knowledge is power, which is why this article aims to pull the curtain back on non Gamstop casinos and dispel any preconceived notions you may have about these alternatives to the ‘standard’ UKGC-licensed gaming sites you’re probably used to.
It’s possible you won’t find every provider you’re searching for when using non Gamstop sites, which for many is a big deal, but it’s also possible to stumble across new games and opportunities that you simply don’t find on UK-centric casino sites. These international sites have a lot to offer, including many games you may not be familiar with but might really enjoy. At the same time, without the ‘guarantee of quality’ you get with a UKGC licence, players should be a little more wary and make sure they always read any site’s small print to be sure they are in command of all the facts.
At the very least, it’s better to be aware of all your options when making the decision of where to play next. And wherever that might be, good luck!