Licensing and Regulation of UK Online Bingo Sites

Updated February 29, 2024
Any new site that provides access to online bingo games for UK players needs to obtain a remote gambling licence from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the regulatory body that controls all forms of gambling in the country.
Gambling Commission UK

In order to receive an operating licence, casino and bingo operators need to conform to a range of conditions designed to ensure games are played fairly, player privacy is protected, and that there are effective management systems in place.

At WhichBingo, we only feature and recommend online bingo sites that are licensed by the UKGC. Playing at a licensed site is entirely legal for anyone living in the UK; however, it is illegal and there are no protections in place if you play at an unregulated site that does not have a UKGC licence.

What is a UKGC Licence?

uk gambling commission

A UK online gaming site needs what is known as an operating licence from the UKGC. Executives of these businesses may also need an individual licence, known as a personal management licence.

In order to obtain and maintain its licence, an online casino operator needs to adhere to licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP). These change as the online gambling industry evolves in order to ensure that they reflect current best practice with regard to socially responsible gambling, and take into account the latest developments in gaming technology. If the codes of practice with regard to responsible gambling are not adhered to, a casino operator can have their licence revoked.

There are separate categories of licence available for different sectors of the online gaming industry.

Is there a special licence for new online bingo sites?

The bingo rules UK facing sites have to follow is mind boggling and becoming more restrictive with every passing month. The long awaited Gambling White Paper is still undergoing various consultations as to which announced measures will make it into law. Each and every one is more work and pressure for operators to keep their licences.

There are two types of licence that can be held by a UK online bingo site: a remote bingo operating licence or a remote bingo (game host) licence.

A remote bingo operating licence is required by any site that provides bingo games to players in Great Britain, or if any part of their equipment (such as servers) is located in GB. This licence enables an operator to provide bingo games to UK players across a range of platforms via mobile technology, interactive TV services or radio technology.

Software developers whose games are hosted by bingo sites but who do not actually operate any sites in their own right may obtain a remote bingo (game host) licence. A key condition of this form of licence is that the developer does not have any interaction directly with the people who play its games and that these games are only accessed through another operator’s platform.

Remote gambling and software technical standards

Remote gambling

Any new bingo site that provides games to UK players needs to conform to the rules and regulations set out in a document issued by the UKGC in June 2017, entitled ‘Remote gambling and software technical standards.’ This establishes the conditions that bingo sites must adhere to in order to obtain and then retain a licence in a number of key areas pertaining to player protection and the fair operation of games, including:

  • Customer account information
  • Displaying transactions
  • Rules, game descriptions and the likelihood of winning
  • Generation of random outcomes
  • Progressive jackpot systems
  • Financial limits

In addition, in November 2018 the UKGC issued a further document entitled ‘Testing strategy for compliance with remote gambling and software technical standards.’ This sets out the scope of the testing that needs to be carried out regularly on games to ensure that they are being operated fairly, as well as who is authorised to carry out such testing.

Elements that are tested include the random number generators (RNGs) that choose the numbers that are called in a bingo game, as well as the theoretical return to player percentage (RTP) of any online game.

A bingo site that does not comply with the testing regulations, or whose games fail to meet the required standards, can have its licence to operate refused or revoked.

What can you expect from a licensed UK bingo site?

key features and services

The documentation regarding licensing of new bingo sites is quite voluminous, and casual players are unlikely to want to wade through it all. Therefore, summarised below are some of the key features and services you can expect when you play at a licensed and regulated UK online bingo site:

  • Easy access to information about your current balance and the ability to review your previous transactions
  • Information that makes clear the value of any transaction, how much you are wagering
  • It should be set out in the T&Cs whether and how your deposited funds are protected if the business becomes insolvent
  • Easy access to game rules, how-to-play pages, and information regarding RTP
  • The potential prizes and payouts in a game must be displayed
  • You will be notified if you are affected by a system error, and steps should be taken to rectify it
  • Free play games do not provide misleading information with regard to the odds of winning when you play for real money, e.g., they use the same RNG, etc.
  • Progressive jackpot rules are clearly displayed and easily accessible
  • Information is provided about what happens if a game is interrupted due to system failure
  • Facilities are in place to assist players to set personal limits as to how much you wager or to limit the length of time you play (including the capacity for reality checks to appear on screen)

What to do if you think a UK bingo site is breaking the rules?

The UKGC provides players with channels and procedures to make a complaint if you think a UK bingo site is not operating within the rules. You might, for instance, think you have not been paid when you have won or you have not been paid the full amount, the advertised T&Cs are not being adhered to, your bets have been voided, or you have not received appropriate levels of customer support.

If these or any other areas are a cause for concern, you should follow the steps outlined in the UKGC guide here.

For all the important UKGC news keep checking back with WhichBingo as we will report on any changes that directly affect players.

Jennifer Mcfadyen



Jennifer is a writer with over five years of experience in the online casino industry. She has a First Class Honours in Media and Journalism and specialises in writing online casino reviews, slot reviews and gambling news content. Public relations are also other areas of interest for Jennifer and she has worked across these industries before setting up her own content company.