Many gamblers might not be aware that most of the top UK betting brands such William Hill, Ladbrokes and Coral do not run their internet division from the UK. Instead they operate their online business from Gibraltar which a low-tax country that is a British Crown Dependency. The UK Gambling Commission white listed Gibraltar during its online division’s inception as an approved gambling jurisdiction. This means bingo sites with a Gibraltar licence can market and operate in the UK and their licence is viewed just the same as a licence held by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. Considering we at Bingo Online only recommend reputable bingo sites, a great number of the ones linked from our site hold a GRA licence.
Gibraltar Gambling Commission Review
The growth of online gambling, especially bingo, in the past few years ushered in a need for a clear framework of regulation for such businesses. This regulation needed to be drawn up in such a way as to protect the interests of the players while allowing the licensees to make a healthy profit. One of the biggest challenges was to ensure that bingo games were operated in perfect fairness so that players could have the best chance at winning. To address these complex needs, different licensing authorities were established.
The GRA or the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority is a licensing authority that can authorise online bingo hall operators to conduct their business. Although by 1998, the GRA had issued its first online gaming licences, it was only later that it was appointed as the Gibraltar Gambling Commission. Today, there are many well known bingo hall operators that have been licensed by this regulatory body.
The mission of the GRA is to ensure that bingo player interests are protected and that all possible caution is taken to ensure that only responsible gambling is encouraged. By enforcing stringent requirements for the licensing process, the GRA helps maintain the highest standards of integrity and fairness in the online gaming industry. The GRA also has a structured complaints resolution process to help players resolve disputes they may have with their bingo operators.
The Gaming Act of 1958 was revamped and modernised by the establishment of a new one in 2005. The earlier act was simply not comprehensive enough to support and enhance Gibraltar’s hard earned reputation as a destination for the leading online bingo operators of the world.
The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority was named the Gambling Commissioner in the Gambling Act of 2005. The regulatory body assumed duties in October 2006. Its duties included issuing gambling licences to operators who satisfied its many requirements.
Today, the GRA is considered to be one of the most unbiased and ethical regulatory bodies in the world of online bingo. It frames policies, evaluates new licensee applications, resolves player-operator disputes. Licences are issued to new operators after a thorough check of the software and various other aspects pertaining to responsible gambling.
GRA Licensing Requirements
Obtaining a bingo licence from the GRA is not an easy task. A series of stringent checks and verifications is carried out before the licence is issued. The operator should clear all of these before he can become a fully licensed online bingo hall operator. One of the most important tests is the one where the bingo software and equipment used by the operator is evaluated. This ensures that the bingo games run by the operator are not skewed in his favour, leaving the players at a clear disadvantage.
Every bingo operator desiring a licence from the GRA should produce a certificate from one of the Approved Testing Facilities (ATF) designated by the regulatory body. This facility tests the operator’s equipment and issues a clearance certificate. The ATFs authorised by the GRA are:
- Technical Systems Testing
- iTech Labs Australia
- Gaming Associates Pty Ltd
- Gaming Laboratories International Europe B.V
Other than this certification, the aspiring online bingo hall operator also needs to undergo a rigorous application process. The top management of the bingo hall are also subjected to scrutiny to ensure that complete fairness and ethical practices will be followed in the operations. Once the licence is issued after due verifications, the bingo operator is bound to adhere to the same high standards in his day to day operations.
Gibraltar licensed Online Bingo
A number of top rated bingo sites or those offering bingo alongside other games are licensed by the GRA. There are many bingo operators licensed by this authority, a small sample of the ones we recommend are covered below.
bingo.bet365.com the online bingo division of a popular betting site with headquarters in the UK. This is a highly reputable company that is the largest private employer in Stoke City. In addition to gambling websites they own a majority interest in the Barclays Premier League franchise Stoke City FC. Their welcome bonus, £25 free on a £5 deposit, was recently named the best bingo bonus for reason, unlike offers of other bingo sites, this is a cash bonus as opposed to sticky free play credit. Their sports betting is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission whilst all products including bingo are licensed by Gibraltar’s GRA.
bingo.williamhill.com is the online bingo side of William Hill – the United Kingdom’s largest betting franchise with close to 3,000 live betting shops in England. Their online division has been around since 1998, is licensed by the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (GRA), and offers betting, bingo, casino and poker from a single website. For bingo their opening offer is spend £10 on bingo tickets in 7 days and they’ll credit your account with a £25 bonus.
www.32redbingo.com is one of several new bingo websites licensed by GRA. They’re best known for their microgaming casino product, but in recent months have been making a push in other gambling verticals. This started with a Betdaq partnership that saw them expand into sports betting and then soon later they launched their internet bingo room. They are currently offering UK residents a £10 no deposit bonus for simply registering a real money bingo account.
www.winkbingo.com is not only the largest bingo site on the Joy of Bingo network, but is rather one of the largest bingo sites in the entire world. Since 2009, they’ve been owned by gambling giant 888 Holdings Plc, the same company that operates 888Casino, 888Poker, 888Bingo and 888Sport and powers the WSOP gambling sites. At Wink Bingo new players are welcomed with an impressive 200% up £200 bingo bonus (deposit £100 to get a £200 bonus). Their offers don’t stop with the welcome bonus; you can read more about their loyalty rewards and other perks in our article where we named them the most generous bingo site.
www.foxybingo.com is the largest bingo site operating on Cashcade Bingo Network which is powered by 888’s Bigend Limited bingo software. Foxy Bingo is owned by the world’s largest publicly traded online gambling company bwin.party digital entertainment. Other sites owned by the company include PartyPoker, Bwin.com and Gamebookers to name just a few, and they also own the OnGame Poker Network. This is the most financially secure gambling company period, and it is well worth trying them out for their bonus offer of deposit £10 to get a £20 bonus.
As you can see from this sample some of the most reputable bingo sites are licensed in Gibraltar, and again this only a sample. Other GRA licensed bingo sites include Posh Bingo, Ladbrokes Bingo, Costa Bingo, 888Ladies, Sun Bingo and the list sincerely goes on and on.
Any complaints from players with regard to any of these operators may be brought to the notice of the GRA for resolution. According to the regulatory body, the bingo player should first bring his complaint to the notice of the bingo site operator. Every operator licensed by the GRA is obliged to take immediate action on basis of such complaints and arrive at a satisfactory solution. In case the player feels that the operator has not taken necessary action on his complaint or has acted unfairly, he can escalate the issue to the GRA. He can do this by filing the GRA’s Complaint Resolution Request Form (CRRF). The Gambling Commissioner will refer the complaint to the respondent and oversee the arbitration procedures himself in such case.
However, under some exceptional circumstances the player may directly contact the GRA without routing his complaint through the operator first. When the player suspects the bingo hall operator of misconduct, corruption or unethical practices, complaints may be taken directly to the GRA.
Ethical Gaming Practices
The GRA also describes what constitutes fair gaming practices.
The operators licensed by GRA are bound to use equipment and software that facilitate fair gaming. The game should be based on a secure and standard Random Number Generator system. This ensures that the numbers produced over millions of plays are sufficiently randomized to prevent misconduct. This requirement of the GRA is very critical when it comes to online bingo games where RNG assumes great importance.
The bingo players should be able to view the overall outcome of the games offered by the bingo site operator. The results of the RNG testing carried out by expert testing services should also be available to the playing public. These results tell the player about the Return to Player percentage or RTP of the site. An unnaturally high or low RTP could be the result of defective RNG.
Reasonable access to bingo results should be given to the players who have participated in it. If a player has good grounds to believe that the results are unfair, he can ask for an explanation from the operator. If the operator fails to provide a satisfactory explanation, the player can bring this to the notice of the GRA for further action.