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Are Betting Sites Safe?

betting site safety

With real money on the line, it’s essential you know whether your betting site is safe. It’s one of the most common worries shared by punters, especially those new to betting online, or those who are signing up at a new bookmaker for the first time. And with good reason - choosing the wrong bookmaker can lead to a whole host of problems, including losing your funds to outright scams. But how can you be sure a betting site is safe, and what safeguards are in place to protect punters when betting online?

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The role of the UKGC

Online gambling in the UK is regulated by the Gambling Commission. The Gambling Commission is an independent regulator established by the UK government to oversee the gambling sector. They issue licences to operators, including online bookmakers, who must hold a licence before they can legally accept bets from UK punters.

Operators must adhere to the UKGC’s code of practice in order to hold on to their licence. The Commission has the power to revoke licences for those who don’t abide by these rules, as well as imposing fines on betting companies that do anything untoward. In this respect, the Gambling Commission is there to enforce rules that ensure fair, honest gambling. You should never be prepared to bet with a bookmaker in the UK who doesn’t hold a licence from the Gambling Commission.

There is a link on the UKGC’s website where you can check the license details of any odds provider that you want and where you can find lots more information about the UKGC and how they regulate the gambling landscape.

Other licensing authorities

For international markets, other regulators do exist. You will find bookmakers registered by the Malta Gaming Authority, the Curacao Egaming Commission, the Gibraltar Gambling Commission and the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission which are other licensing authorities you’ll see if you’re betting from outside the UK. Bookmakers in South Africa are licensed by the Provincial Licensing Authority in their local area, such as Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board, while in Nigeria, it’s bodies like the National Lottery Regulatory Commission and the Lagos State Lotteries Board.

Bookmakers in India are regulated by the India Regulatory Authority in their local state, of which there are a total of 29. Each has its own rules and regulations in place, which are worth familiarising with if you’re betting from these jurisdictions.

Each licensing authority takes its own approach to regulating gambling activity. But they all share a common goal and purpose - to help customers have trust in the integrity and honesty of the bookmakers regulated by them. 

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Which bookmakers are licensed by UKGC?

All bookmakers legally operating in the UK must be licensed by the Gambling Commission. That includes a list of the common names you’ll know from your high street, or from the top end of the UK online betting market, including:

  • Bet365
  • Ladbrokes 
  • Coral 
  • Betfred 
  • Unibet 
  • Grosvenor 
  • Boylesports 
  • Lottoland 
  • Parimatch 
  • Quinnbet 
  • Netbet 
  • Stake 
  • VBet 
  • William Hill 
  • Bwin 
  • Betfair 
  • SportingBet

There are many different bookmakers operating legally and legitimately in the UK, all holding licences from the Gambling Commission. To help make your decision clearer, our reviews detail everything you need to know about different bookmakers, plus the welcome bonuses and promotions you can qualify for when you sign up and make your first deposit. Head over to our reviews now to find the best regulated bookmakers and sports betting welcome bonuses on the market right now.

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How do bookmakers keep your funds secure?

One of the main concerns for some new players is whether their payment information is secure. Entering your card details online can feel like a risky business - but in reality, with regulated sports betting sites, it’s an entirely safe way to fund your account.

Common deposit methods tend to include debit cards, ewallets like PayPal, Neteller and Skrill and even bank transfer. When making these deposits, your details are encrypted and protected by the latest payment technologies - the same services used by banks and payment card companies to ensure you are completely protected from fraud and theft when paying online.

Not all payment methods are available at every bookmaker, so it’s worth reading through our reviews to find bookies supporting your payment method of choice. But with every UK regulated bookmaker, you can be certain that your sensitive personal information is being handled in a highly secure, fully safe way, for maximum trust.

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Do bookmakers always pay your winnings?

Bookmakers that are licensed by the Gambling Commission are obliged to pay out on any winning bet they’ve accepted - it’s a term of their licence. So if you’re worried that your one-in-a-million 20-fold accumulator won’t get honoured, the good news is that the bookie is obliged to pay - at risk of having their licence revoked, or a large fine imposed.

All bets you place are recorded in your betting history, and can be reviewed after the event. While these will be subject to the bookmaker’s betting rules, there are safeguards in place to prevent bookmakers from backing out when it’s time to pay. Yet another advantage of making sure you only bet with bookmakers licensed by the UKGC.

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Where can I get help with a dispute?

The UKGC is an industry regulator, but it does not engage in the resolution of disputes that you may have with your bookmaker. There is advice available for those having issues with a bookmaker, which itself must have a complaints procedure in place, again as a term of their licence.

If you find yourself in a dispute with your bookmaker, consider the following advice.

  • Read the terms and conditions of your bookmaker thoroughly to make sure you know where you stand
  • Speak to the bookmaker, and follow their published complaints procedure
  • Keep a copy of all correspondence with your bookmaker
  • Bookmakers have eight weeks to respond to complaints
  • If you’re unsatisfied with the response, you can escalate to an Alternative Dispute Resolution service (ADR)
  • The ADR has 90 days to review and respond to a complaint
  • You can appeal any decision, or take the bookmaker to court if this still does not produce a satisfactory result

If you want to report a bookmaker to the UKGC, you can do so by phone on 0121 230 6666, or by completing the complaint form on their website. There is also an anonymous phone line for tip offs about illegal activity or fraudulent activity, where you can report bookmakers in confidence to the Gambling Commission - 0121 230 6655.

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What risks come with playing at an unregulated bookmaker?

If you’ve read this far and you still want to bet with an unregulated bookmaker, good luck to you - you’ll need it. All of the protections in place that ensure fair play are only guaranteed when a bookmaker holds a licence from the Gambling Commission. If a bookie is unregulated, it’s at their discretion whether they play fairly, or whether they try to rip you off. And not everyone in the unregulated betting industry is good for their word.

Don’t risk it - bet with a licensed, regulated bookmaker for the peace of mind and security that comes with UKGC control.

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