The UK Gambling Act 2005 requires a license for gambling whether it takes place in traditional fixed premises or the more modern equivalent of online gaming which is caught by the law applying to "remote gambling" - as such the law now applies not only to internet gaming but also to gambling using a mobile or fixed line telephone, your television set or radio and indeed any electronic media.
As a remote gambling operator you will need to apply for a company license and the majority of senior management will also need a personal license as well. There are serious and severe civil and criminal penalties created by the new legislation for those who do not adhere to the strict rules now in place in the UK.
Firstly you must determine what type of license you will need; a non-remote license is not covered here but if you are a Small Scale Operator (SSO) there are slightly more relaxed conditions that apply for you when applying for a remote gambling license. An SSO is one where there are 3 or fewer "defined management positions" within the company being licensed, so a one-man operator will qualify as an SSO and you should check to make sure you qualify before applying as an SSO to avoid outright rejection of your application.
Broadly, the Gambling Commission is tasked with achieving three objectives:
1. Keeping crime out of gambling;
2. Ensuring gambling is conducted on a fair basis; and
3. Protecting children and vulnerable persons from being exploited or harmed by gambling activity.
Licensing is the first stage in helping to achieve these objectives so an operator must be expected to answer questions on their financial status, including a full accounting of assets and liabilities, a full criminal history disclosure including criminal convictions which are not relevant to gambling; a full outline of the management team and their history as well as financial status; details of licenses held in the past and both in and out of the UK together with the regulatory record and history of any disciplinary or compliance issues in connection with those licenses including where license applications have been rejected or subsequently revoked.
The Gambling Commission has considerable discretion in issuing a license or indeed, may choose to issue a restricted or conditional license rather than rejecting an application outright.
It is vital for the success of the application that full disclosure is made of all relevant information; if you are unsure of what constitutes relevant information you should check with the Gambling Commission or your advisers before submitting the application.
A common query is where an applicant has a criminal record and whether this will affect the outcome of the application process; having a criminal record does not of itself stop the application from being approved, the Gambling Commission will look at how relevant the conviction is to the gambling license being requested. For instance, a conviction for an assault is unlikely to have relevance to a gambling license unless the assault was connected to a gambling activity; how long ago the conviction occurred, the seriousness of the offence and the degree of relevance to gambling are all factors which may mitigate the criminal record. But it is worthwhile noting that non-disclosure on an application will ultimately lead to revocation of any license subsequently issued.