Gibraltar Gambling Commission (GGC)
The Gibraltar Gambling Commission (GGC) is a department of the Government of Gibraltar that is responsible for handling the remote gambling licensing and regulating of any online casinos or other online gambling businesses that operate under their jurisdiction.
Formerly known as the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (GRA), the commission is tasked with ensuring that any gambling business operating under their jurisdiction is adhering to their regulations and providing a safe, secure and fair gambling experience to their players.
If granted a license by the GGC, any online casino is free to offer their online gambling services from Gibraltar to anyone in the world where online gambling is legal in their country of residence.
Located just off the Southern coast of Spain, Gibraltar has become one of the world’s leading havens for online gambling and the online gambling industry is now one of the largest in the country.
The GCC is where many of the world’s most reputable online casinos are licensed and regulated and it is renowned for being one of the hardest regulatory authorities to gain a license from.
This is due to them only accepting blue chip companies that are of good financial standing, that already has been licensed elsewhere and have a good reputation and proven track record in the online gambling industry.
So to find out more about the GGC and what they do to ensure that we as players have the right level of protection when gambling online, continue reading this in-depth article that really delves into one of the leading online gambling regulatory authorities in the world.
What Would Happen if the GGC Did Not Exist?
Well, online casinos could get licensed elsewhere under some other big names when it comes to regulatory authorities such as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). In fact, there are hundreds of regulatory authorities all over the world that can be applied to for a license to operate as an online gambling entity.
Any online casino requires licensing of some sort from a regulatory authority as otherwise it would be deemed as an illegal operation from whichever jurisdiction it is operating from. For this reason, players should always check to see if and where an online casino is licensed and regulated as otherwise, it may well be an illegal online casino that is operating under no regulations and therefore might not be providing you with a fair game and looking after your financial and personal information.
Before you play at any online casino, you should always first check to see which licenses they have and if they even have a license at all. If you do not trust what a casino is saying about the supposed licenses that they have, you can always check with the regulatory bodies that they claim to have licenses from in order to confirm this one way or another.
What Would Happen if There Were No Regulatory Authorities?
Most of you will already be able to just imagine what online gambling would be like if there were no bodies regulating it. Online casinos would be able to make up their own rules, would not be forced to use a certain amount of security when looking after customers personal information and financial details, could essentially rig the games to be a lot more int heir favour than what they advertise and not do too much to help promote responsible gambling.
The online gambling industry as a whole would be given a bad name due to the many bad practices that would be occurring and it will eventually fold due to most players eventually learning that there is nobody they can trust online.
Without regulation, an online casino could essentially have their slot games and table games set up with Random Number Generators (RNG) that are far from fair to the players. They could then advertise a false RNG to attract the players and then do nothing short of scam them.
Casinos could also neglect the safety of player accounts, financial and personal information and their playing funds. Regulated casinos are usually forced to adhere to regulations that involve separating player funds from operating funds and use 128-bit SSL encryption technology to protect the connection between the player computer and the server in which the casino is held on.
All in all, the online gambling world would be a bad place to be and we just have to be thankful that we do indeed have regulatory authorities making sure that online casinos are operating how they should be.
What Licenses Does the GGC Provide?
The GGC has a number of licenses available but each of them is usually issued depending on the product that the online gambling provider is selling. There are seven licenses in total such as:
- Licenses for online bookmakers
- Licenses for betting intermediaries
- Licenses for gaming operators
- Licenses for gaming machines
- Licenses for lottery promoters
- Licenses for pool promoters
- Licenses for remote gambling
With regards to online casinos, the most common license applied for is the license for providing remote gambling. However, if the online casino also offered products such as sports betting, for example, they would also need a license for online bookmakers.
Why is the Regulation of Online Gambling Important?
As we touched upon above, there are so many reasons why online gambling needs regulatory bodies to license and regulate it.
Would you be able to put your trust into an online casino if you knew it was operating under no regulations? Neither would we and neither would most of the gambling population. Being regulated by a respected regulatory authority is a seal of approval for any online casino and one that will lend some trust to the players that are trying to win some money at their online casino.
Not only do players want regulations that ensure that the games they are playing are fair and are as advertised but they also want regulations in many other areas as well. To sign up for an online casino and make a deposit, we have to share some personal information and financial information, so obviously we want assurances that this information is being protected by those that we have shared it with.
This should be done via 128-bit SSL encryption, extensive firewall software being implemented, employees only being given to partial information that we have submitted and for there to be processes and policies in place that look after the monitoring of any activity on our accounts that might be deemed suspicious.
Another regulation that most players will require from an online casino is that their player funds are kept well away from the operating funds used by the company. We want to be sure that should the online casino ever run into financial difficulty, that all of our account balances are there in a separate account so that we are protected and can get our money back.
Without any of the above, gambling at an online casino does not bear thinking of. This is why regulation is so important in any industry but especially in a virtual one online where there could be lots of money and information at risk at all times.
What Regulations do Online Casinos Operate Under?
The amount and type of regulations that an online casino will have to adhere to will change depending on which regulatory authority they are licensed under. However, many of them will share common goals and the areas of an online casino that they regulate on a regular basis to ensure that they are provided with a product that is safe and fair to their paying customers.
Among the common regulations that online casinos will have to agree and adhere to under whatever regulatory authority that they wish to operate under include:
- Regular testing of the RNG used in the games at the online casino.
- Enforced use of 128-bit encryption software.
- Players funds must be kept in a separate account to operating funds.
- Online casinos must show an active stance on promoting responsible gambling in their policies.
- ID verification procedures to be regulated regularly.
Each of the above has all been designed to ensure that any players at online casinos can expect a standard level of service at each online casino under a particular regulatory authority. These are the core standards that most regulatory authorities will focus most of their time on but in truth, there are more smaller regulations that online casinos must adhere to as well.
What Type of Businesses Does the GGC Licence and Regulate?
While other regulatory authorities will cover both online and land-based gambling activities, the GGC specifically only deals with remote gambling on the internet. As one of the largest industries in Gibraltar, they really do need a department that is dedicated to online gambling specifically rather than taking on both forms of gambling.
Online gambling can take many forms but the GGC recognizes and regulates the following:
- Online casinos
- Online Poker
- Sports betting
The licenses offered for each of the above will differ with regards to the regulations that they must follow but they will all share the sole aim of providing a fair playing ground for players.
What Well-Known Casinos Does the GGC License and Regulate?
The GGC has always been a popular destination for online casinos due to the lower taxes that they charge. This is one of the main reasons why so many big names in the casino industry have opted to apply for and win a license from the Gibraltar Gambling Commission.
Additionally, because the GGC only accept companies that have a proven track record in the online gambling industry and are blue chip companies, this ensures that only the very biggest and most trustworthy names in the industry are awarded a license.
Among those big names are some that we are sure most of you will be aware of especially if you have been gambling online for quite some time.
- Ladbrokes Sportsbook
- 32 Red
- Mansion Casino
Each of the above casinos has agreed to stick to the strict regulations of the GCC and have so far managed to do so without any big problems.
NetEnt in particular on that list is a massive name in the online gambling industry and there are a number of NetEnt powered online casinos that operate under the GGC. BWin and Ladbrokes are also big names and the latter in particular will be very familiar with UK players.
How Does the GGC Regulate Online Casinos?
The regulations put in place by any regulatory authority for online gambling are often extensive and quite complicated. However, they can be broken down into categories that display just what it is that a regulatory body such as the GGC keeps an eye on and runs regular tests and audits on.
At the GGC in particular, the following are the areas in which they regulate on a regular basis at any online casino that they have issued a license to in Gibraltar.
- Advertising Guidelines
As part of the license agreement, online casinos have to adhere to any advertisements for services, bonuses and promotions being absolutely truthful and accurate. Additionally, this advertising should always be targeted at adults and should never be designed in such a way that it could be construed to appeal to minors.
Finally, all advertising must only be targeted at people living in countries where online gambling is not illegal.
- Payouts of Prize Money
Online casinos under a GGC license will also be expected to have at all times the financing available to cover all current prize money as well as a reasonable estimate of any future projected payouts.
Additionally, online casinos will have to ensure that they always pay balances to players in accordance with the pre-set agreements that they made with the players.
- Customer Privacy and Data Protection
As a minimum, online casinos operating with a GGC licence in Gibraltar are required to obtain a basic level of information from any new player registering at their online casino. This is to be a full name, address and the date of birth of the prospective registrant.
The gaming operator is then expected to carry out their own due diligence on the customer and verifying the identification provided.
- Gaming Tax
All online casinos are required to pay tax based on their turnover each year. The current tax rate for running fixed odds betting product is set at 1% of gross profit with an upper cap of £425,000 per year or a minimum payment of £85,000 per year.
This tax rate is extremely low compared to many other gambling regulators and is one reason why so many online casinos are attracted to this licensing authority.
- Accounts and Audit
As a licensee of the GCC, online casinos are responsible for the bank account details of their players and all financial transactions, accounts and processing must be completed in the jurisdiction of Gibraltar and nowhere else.
The online casino also agrees to provide audited accounts annually and also maintain its financing, accounts and filings as set out by the legislation found in the companies act of Gibraltar.
- Effective Control
Any online casino that is a licensee under the GGC must run and control the business from a location in Gibraltar. All bank accounts associated with the Gibraltar business must be held in the country and that includes the accounts used to hold player funds.
As part of this agreement, the online casino business may be requested at random to provide the GCC with a list of key operating personnel that reside and work for the business in Gibraltar.
- Codes of Practice
The GCC is responsible for creating and issuing codes of practices related to online gambling in Gibraltar and as such, any licensee of the GCC must agree to always be bound to and adhere to any changes that might be made to these codes of practice.
- Anti-Money Laundering Requirements
One such code of practice is that of the anti-money laundering requirements that are set out by the GGC. This code dictates how a casino should go about detecting, reporting and dealing with suspected money laundering and how to go about protecting from it.
Money laundering is a crime that is rampant in a number of industries but especially in online gambling. Gambling is an excellent way to launder money for criminals but there are ways that online casinos can help to combat it and detect it.
- Remote Technical and Operating Standards
There are 13 standards set in place that any online casino has to adhere to and more information on these can be found here. Among them, you will see standards that licensees adhere to such as with regards to the RNG and subsequent regular testing of that RNG by independent testing facilities.
Another standard of note include the data and information security standards regarding players personal and financial information and the protection that an online casino can provide for them. Fair gambling, preventing underage gambling and responsible gambling awareness are a few others of note. Here is the list in full of the 13 remote technical and operational standards that are in place and need to be adhered to by any licensee.
- Compliance Arrangements and Processes
- Registration of Participants and Participants
- Presentation of Rules and Customer Information
- Responsible Gambling Awareness and Provision of Information
- Gambling Management Facilities
- Preventing Underage Gambling
- Fair Gambling
- Data and Information Security
- Business Continuity
- Randomness (RNG)
- Compliance and Testing
- Approval of Joint Ventures
Any licensee that is discovered to not be adhering to any of these standards is liable to be warned, fined or potentially lose their license with the GCC. The penalties given will depend on the seriousness of the infraction and whether it could be deemed as unintended or intended. Sometimes casinos make small errors and can be warned but if there is a big breach of the regulations it might not end well for the online casino as they could completely lose their GGC license.
- Testing Requirements
As we touched upon in the remote technical and operating standards above, online casinos under license with the GGC are required to have all of their equipment and gambling products tested by an independent testing facility to confirm that they are operating within the requirements set out bt the GGC.
The GGC only accepts these tests to be carried out by independents test houses that they have approved. The most well know of these is eCogra, a company that tests many of the biggest online casinos to ensure that their games are operating in a fair manner for the customers.
The full list of approved independent test houses is:
- iTech Labs
- Gaming Associates
- GLI Europe BV
- GLI Test Labs Canada
- NMi Metrology & Gaming
- BNM Compliance
- SQS India Infosystems
- SIQ Ljubljana
- Enex TestLabs
- Quinel M
All online casinos that operate under a GGC license have to choose one of the above independent testing houses to perform the RNG tests and other tests on their software and equipment. These test houses will then share the results with the GGC and unless any issues a are found, the online casinos will be free to continue providing their products and services to their player base.
As you can see, there are a fair amount of regulations that the GGC expect their licensees to follow and cooperate with. Almost every aspect of an online casino has some form of regulation attached to it. Most other regulatory authorities such as the UK Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority have very similar regulations although there will be differences as each jurisdiction will have their own ideas on how to regulate the casinos operating underneath them.
Can We Contact the GGC?
One area where the Gibraltar Gambling Commission stands out among its peers is through the likeliness of them responding to ay player complaints. In fact, they respond to more than any other online regulator and do what they can to resolve the issues at hand as quickly as possible.
If you have an issue with an online casino that operates under a GGC license and is unable to come to a successful resolution with that online casino, you as a player are within your rights to go above their heads and seek advice from the GGC.
This could be regarding anything from suspecting unfair activity from the online casino, their failure to pay out any winnings that you might have had, have had your account suspended for what you feel is an undeserving reason or for any other online gambling issue.
They will investigate the issue at hand, offer mediators between you and the casino and will ultimately come to a resolution one way or another. There have been many instances in the past where the GGC has overturned the decision of an online casino to be in favour of the player and the casino has no choice but to oblige should they value the license that they have.
We do suggest that you try your very best to come to a satisfactory resolution with the online casino before contacting them, however, as understandably they are very busy people. However, should this not be possible, they will always be on hand to help you with your issues.
The Gibraltar Gambling Commission has not become one of the leading regulatory authorities for nothing and you can see many reasons why they have above. They set their standards very high on who they will accept as a licensee of theirs and they do not rest up in making life extremely difficult (in a fair and direct way) to the online casinos underneath them.
Only the biggest names in the online gambling industry are usually accepted and despite these being well-known brands that have proved themselves to be fair operators over the years, this does not mean that the GGC just assumes they are operating in the right way.
They are always there performing their audits, testing equipment, RNG and products and never let their licensees rest easy. That is the way it should be though and we have big respect for any regulatory authority and the work that they put in to make sure that we as players are being treated fairly and that we are kept safe.
If you ever find an online casino that is regulated by the GGC, you can be sure that you are playing at one that offers their games and services int he correct manner and continues to adhere to the strict regulations that the GGC puts in front of them.
Better still, if you ever find a casino that is regulated and licensed by multiple regulatory authorities, you pretty much know that you are in great hands. If you were to look at some of the best known online casinos, you will see that it is not unusual to be licensed in three, four or even five different regions.