Legal Aspects of Bingo

The majority of legal jurisdictions in the world restrict gambling to a greater or lesser extent. Many Islamic countries forbid gambling altogether, while the vast majority of other nations heavily limit the practice of gambling. As bingo often times involves some form of gambling, it can be covered under these same legal limitations much of the time. This applies to in person bingo played in bingo halls and community centres, but more especially to online bingo games and online bingo websites.

Online Bingo Regulations

Online bingo is similarly licensed and regulated in most countries as is online gambling. In the United States, online gambling is prohibited entirely. In Great Britain, which proves to be the other Bingo Mecca of the world, there are laws and restrictions in place to cover and regulate the operators and operations of online bingo gambling. Great Britain's principal law covering online gambling is The 2005 Gambling Act.

Bingo Licensing
This gambling act was crafted as an attempt to make online bingo legal in the United Kingdom and to bring the online bingo operators onshore. It requires online bingo providers to live up to a number of strict licensing and legal requirements. The advertising and promotions surrounding online bingo are aggressively regulated in the act. The tax rate was also established at a fifteen percent gaming tax, along with the thirty percent corporate tax that is imposed on these operators. As a result of these punishing restrictions and sky high tax rates, the legal aspects of bingo forced many of the UK bingo operators to go offshore. It is an important point that the legal aspects of bingo in the UK require that the offshore operators do not keep any of their data or information from the operation of the online bingo itself contained on any United Kingdom computer server.

Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014

At the beginning of November 2014, the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act came into force, changing the way that gambling is regulated in the UK.

Before the 2014 Act was introduced, remote operators (which include many popular British online bingo and casino operators) only required a UK Gambling Commission license if they owned at least one piece of remote gambling equipment located in Great Britain. As many operators kept 100% of their equipment offshore, they did not need a UK license to serve UK players and were, therefore, not subject to the strict regulatory supervision of the UKGC.

You may have noticed that in the footer of many online bingo sites and casino sites, there’s mention of both the UK Gambling Commission and other offshore licensing authorities such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner, and the Government of Curacao.

This is because it is now illegal for gambling operators to provide their services to UK players without a UKGC license, and to comply with the 2014 Act, the majority of operators now hold the necessary license. If you cannot find any mention of the UK Gambling Commission at a particular bingo site or casino, we strongly advise you to avoid it.

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Online Bingo advertising

Other sides of the legal aspects of bingo in Great Britain revolve around the advertising controls. Where television ads are concerned, strict regulations from the same Gambling Act limit when ads are allowed to be shown. This British national policy was enacted in an effort to keep children from seeing these online bingo ads, so that gambling will not be encouraged for those who are of a young and impressionable age. With online advertising, the interpretations of the rules prove to be more difficult, since there is no effective means of checking the age of a person watching an online bingo ad. In general, where online bingo advertising is concerned, the regulations for the alcohol industry have more or less been duplicated and carried over.

There have also been instances where bingo and casino operators have failed to act responsibly in their online, television, radio, and print advertising, or have misled players by failing to provide sufficient details of special offers (such as terms and conditions). Complaints of this nature can be reported to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) where they are independently investigated before the ASA decides whether the complaint should be upheld or overruled.

Global Bingo
Other countries have regulations in place for online bingo that focus more on making sure that the gambling being engaged in is fair. These types of regulations concentrate on the odds in the game itself. The goal is to make sure that the operators of the games are not making windfall profits at the expense of the players.

Legalised Bingo
There are a few countries that flaunt the general planetary prohibitions and discouragement of online gambling and online bingo. Among these are smaller nations like Costa Rica, Antigua and Barbuda, and especially Monaco and Malta. In these countries, the governments have instead chosen to become closely involved in the operations of gambling and online bingo. They utilise regulations to tax gambling, both physical and online forms, and this has encouraged the development of close ties between gambling organisations in these countries and their respective governments. In countries such as these, especially in Monaco, legalised gambling in all of its forms, including online bingo, provides the governments with a great portion of its revenues.