Can You Play Games with a UK Casino While Abroad?
Being able to access the internet is a wonderful thing. Its’ invention changed the world, providing a valuable resource which connects the whole world, brings everyone closer together regardless of where they are based, and allows instant sharing of a constant stream of information. When it comes to online casinos though, things aren’t quite so limitless.
The UK gambling sector and the wider industry in general is a minefield of legislation, and a lot of this relates to where residents of certain countries can play and where they cannot, and this can lead to some frustration. It’s complicated because even if some big sites operate in many different countries, the regulations and local laws mean that an account opened in the UK would not be able to be used from a different location.
Online gamblers who are not able to use their favourite UK casino sites in another country, on holiday for example, are basically cut off for the duration of their trip, and even if someone relocated on a permanent basis, their chosen casino would need a license in their new country for the account to remain useable.
Playing Online Casino Abroad
While there might be a considerable number of UK online casinos which are not available anywhere else, there are many – especially the bigger brands – that are operational all over the world. This is because these UK operators will have multiple licenses from different regulating bodies. You can think of it like a driving license; you can be licensed to drive a car but that doesn’t mean you can drive a truck, you need a separate piece of paper for that, although it is possible to have both if you want or need to.
As well as the UKGC (UK Gambling Commission), two of the other big regulating bodies you might see are the MGA (Malta Gaming Authority) and the GGC (Gibraltar Gambling Commission), and these cover multiple territories in the EU. However, many countries also require specific licenses from their own equivalent of the UKGC even if the operator has an MGA or GGC license, and some countries have no regulation at all.
Even if brands do have a presence in several countries, there will still be restrictions in place that prevent a UK national from using them much of the time. This is because they will essentially have separate sites for each country specifically aimed at the people who live there. This is first and foremost because the rules on gambling will be different everywhere you go, so something that is legal in one country might not be legal in another, but there are other reasons.
One of them is so that the brand is able to use the data that is collected for marketing purposes, which means that they are able to segment and distinguish player behaviour of the people in a particular country and use this to implement a strategy.
Understanding Gambling Market Regulation
All of this is easier to understand if you know the basics of market regulation.
There is no one size fits all answer to the question of playing online casino abroad because it totally depends on the country you are visiting and the brand you play with. Where legal, some brands will allow you to play in other countries and some will not, but sometimes the law makes this decision for them.
In some countries gambling is completely illegal so there is no safe option to play casino, and you shouldn’t try and find a way around it either as you could end up in a lot of trouble.
In other countries there is tight regulation along with licenses as discussed above, so there are very few circumstances where you will be able to use your online casino account. Interestingly though, anyone with a second home or a holiday home can get around this.
Most online casinos need to process customers through KYC (Know Your Customer) checks in order to let them gamble, and this requires ID and proof of address. Therefore, anyone with a holiday home or a residence in more than one country could provide details of both addresses and be allowed to play in both countries.
Some countries may have gambling regulations but not require licenses, and others are totally unregulated so the law doesn’t really address gambling at all. Some big UK brands operate in unregulated markets, but you won’t have the same protections as you would if you played with them in the UK.
At the end of the day it’s often one big grey area, so the best thing you can do is contact your casino, tell them where you are going, and ask if you will be allowed to play.
How to Spot a Foreign Version of Your Online Casino Site
If you are abroad and have successfully landed on your casino site, you might be wondering whether it is the UK version of the brand; sometimes it might still be in English. For some players this will be immediately obvious regardless of the language used, but not everyone is so internet savvy.
There are a number of tell-tale signs that you can look out for which will give you a clue, let’s take a look at what these could be.
- Currency – Perhaps the easiest identifier. If the currency on the website is displayed as a Euro sign for example, then you are likely visiting that particular country’s site.
- Welcome Offer – It is very common for sites in different countries to have welcome offers different to those offered in the UK. Perhaps in that particular country, the brand has identified that the UK welcome offer is unrealistic, because the average income might be lower. If the welcome offer looks odd, just check you are on the right site.
- Promotions – There might also be promotions specific to a country’s culture. Brands often use seasonal holidays such as Christmas for promotions in the UK, so they will do the same in other countries where perhaps different occasions are celebrated or holidays have different names, like Noel for Christmas in France.
- Missing Products – Some games or software providers aren’t available in all countries. A missing favourite game is a tell tale sign that you might not be in Kansas anymore Toto.
- Payment methods – Another tell tale sign is missing or new strange sounding payment methods you have never heard of before. Not all services are available in all countries, so a list of difficult to pronounce virtual banking methods might mean you are on the wrong version of the site.
- Focus on Events – More for the sports bettors, but a site prioritising the sporting goings on of Italian rather than English football, for example, is an indication that you could be on the Italian site.
Of course, most people will spot the fact that they aren’t on a UK site fairly quickly and easily, but if you are in any doubt then a quick scout around using the above methods should clarify things for you.
Use of VPNs for Gambling Abroad
In countries where gambling is illegal or where certain operators are prohibited, some players get creative and use a VPN to get around this. However, this is absolutely not something that we recommend as it breaks the terms and conditions you agreed to when you registered.
A VPN works by telling the site that you are accessing it from a specific country chosen by you. So if you were in Africa but used a VPN and chose the UK as your country, websites will recognise you as still being in the UK, while hiding your true location. This allows you to continue using the UK version of your casino site so you can gamble as you normally would.
It sounds very clever, and it is, but it’s not without risk.
Some casino sites have wised up to the fact that players use VPNs and have developed technology that is able to detect if you are using them. If they find out that you are using a VPN this can lead to a number of penalties.
One thing that they can do is suspend your account automatically for a brief period or completely close your account and blacklist you from making any other attempts to open one. As well as this, they can also void any winnings that you have collected while using the VPN, which would be devastating if you had a big win and got caught.
If you enjoy gambling on a regular basis, then going without for a couple of weeks while abroad is not the end of the world and it will still be there when you get back.
How to Gamble While Abroad
It would be logical to think a potential solution would be to ask friends or relatives in the UK to bet on your behalf.
However, this too is a big no no because the majority of casino sites clearly state in their terms and conditions that they do not condone allowing other people using your casino account. This is to stop identity fraud, fake multiple accounts, and minors accessing content they shouldn’t, and if any kind of violation is suspected your account could be closed down.
Simply put, allowing other people to use your casino account is illegal, as well as friends using their own accounts with your money. It is not advised that you engage in this method, because you run the risk of getting into trouble.
One thing you could do, although it doesn’t apply to all forms of gambling and isn’t really possible with casino, is to place your bets before you travel. If you know you are going to be in a country where gambling is not possible, you can get your bets in early. It’s possible with sports betting and some bingo sites allow you to pre buy tickets for big games too.
The disadvantage of this though, is that odds can change and so can team structures and even whole events, so you might make a bet only for the situation to change and your chances of winning affected negatively.
If you want to play casino games, you could always go old school and find an actual casino to visit. We appreciate they aren’t as common as supermarkets and petrol stations, but if there is one not too far away you could make a night of it.
Your only other option when it comes to playing online is to buy property in the country you are going to so that you can prove you have an address there, but we think you will agree that this is an extreme reaction to not being able to spin the reels for 7 days!