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What we do

The Gambling Commission was set up under the Gambling Act 2005 to regulate commercial gambling in Great Britain in partnership with licensing authorities. 

In addition, the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 requires any operator wishing to transact with, or advertise to, consumers in Britain to obtain an operating licence from the Gambling Commission. 

We also regulate the National Lottery under the National Lottery etc. Act 1993

We are an independent non-departmental public body (NDPB) sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). 

We have over 300 employees, mostly based at our offices in Birmingham, including around 40 home-based colleagues working across England, Scotland and Wales. 

Our work is funded by fees set by DCMS and paid by the organisations and individuals we license, and, in respect of National Lottery functions, by a grant from the National Lottery Distribution Fund.  

Our objectives

We permit gambling, in so far as we think it is reasonably consistent with the licensing objectives:

  • preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder, or being used to support crime
  • ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way
  • protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

In respect of the National Lottery, our objectives are to ensure that:

  • every lottery that forms part of the National Lottery is run with all due propriety
  • the interests of every participant in the National Lottery are protected
  • subject to the above two duties, to do our best to make sure that the proceeds of the National Lottery are as great as possible.

And subject to these duties that the returns to National Lottery good causes are maximised.

How we meet our objectives

We license operators and individuals in Britain that provide arcades, gaming machines, betting, lotteries, bingo, remote gambling (online, telephone), casinos and gambling software. We are also responsible for awarding the licence to run the National Lottery.

We set requirements for licensees in our Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice and carry out assessments to make sure that licensees are complying with our requirements. Where we find evidence of non-compliance, we act to address this. In many cases, licensees revise non-compliant behaviour without the need for us to take formal action. In some cases, however, we use our regulatory powers to take enforcement action. Our Statement of principles for licensing and regulation provides more detail about our approach. 

How we prioritise

The gambling industry is made up of more than 2,500 operators. It is a competitive market where the pace of change is often rapid. These changes sometimes present risks and/or opportunities in relation to the licensing and National Lottery objectives described above.

We act to minimise those risks and make good use of opportunities.

With a large number of licensed firms and a wide range of issues, we prioritise our work to achieve the best outcomes for consumers and the wider public. We do this by considering:

  • the scale of impact that any issue might have – for example, the extent of gambling-related harm it might cause
  • the scope for us to address that impact by using our regulatory powers – for example, by developing new regulatory requirements or working with regulatory partners and other relevant authorities. 

What we don’t do

Consumer complaints

We don’t resolve consumer complaints. For example, we can’t help you get your money back from a bet placed or from a gaming machine, or rule on a disputed National Lottery prize.

  • Operators who hold a Gambling Commission licence must have procedures for handling customer complaints and arrangements for disputes to be referred to an independent third party.
  • The National Lottery operator also has procedures for handling player complaints.
  • We may review cases to see if the operator has met its obligations as set out in its operating licence.

Find more information on complaints

Legal advice

We don’t give legal advice to help develop business models or ideas. But we do provide general information and advice about the Act and our approach.

Regulate spread betting

Spread betting is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Regulate all gambling websites

Gambling websites trading with, or advertising to, consumers in Britain must have a Gambling Commission licence.

Before gambling online, please check that the operator is licensed by the Gambling Commission. For more information see what to look out for before gambling.

Issue premises licences

Premises licences are issued by licensing authorities that are also responsible for:

  • issuing gambling operators with permits (which allow low stakes gambling in venues which are not primarily for gambling, for example, pubs)
  • registering societies - allowing them to hold small lotteries
  • compliance and enforcement of the Gambling Act 2005 locally.