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The Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) and How it Protects eGambling Customers

With the rise in gambling domains, there is a need for control and licensing bodies as well. One of the newer commissions set up for license and control of eGaming domains is Alderney Gambling Control Commission. This was initially established in the year 2000. The commission consists of three members and a Chairman. It is a non-political and independent entity. It regulates all eGambling domains registered under Alderney states.

The commission has a supervisory and regulatory approach, with international standards in place that apply to all casinos registered under AGCC. Here we look into the detail of the setup and working of the commission and how domains can apply for licenses under it. We also delve into the benefits and protection that it offers to players who gamble on domains licensed by AGCC.

Origin of the AGCC

British Channel Islands are dependencies under the Crown. However, they are self-governing regions as well which are separate from the United Kingdom. They also fall outside the purview of the European Union. The Channel Islands are one of the offshore centers of finance and have several eCommerce centers of international standards. 

Alderney is the third-largest among the Channel Islands. It is one of the constituents of the island group called Bailiwick of Guernsey. It lies off the shores of France, about 8 miles away and 60 miles from the mainland of Britain. It has its own company, legislature, and government laws that apply to investment, insurance, and banking sectors in Guernsey. The commission of Guernsey Financial Services lays down statutes and regulates the finance industry in Alderney and Guernsey overall. 

The companies that are licensees under Alderney are privy to benefits such as state-of-the-art telecommunication networks available in Guernsey and Alderney as well as hosting facilities. Telecommunication networks in both regions have international links and are highly reliable and of good capacity. They span across regions in the USA, Asia, Europe, and the UK.

Types of Licenses Issued

Applicants can get the following types of licenses under AGCC:

  • Category 1 and 2 licenses.

  • Core services associate and category-2 associate certificate.

  • Hosting certificate.

  • Temporary license for eGambling.

  • Key individual certificate.

Regulations by the commission were formulated in 2009. Once an applicant puts in an application for certificates or licenses the commission then assesses the same and investigates into the eGambling body. Once all pertinent matters are considered then the commission determines the outcome and notifies the applicant accordingly. 

Alderney Gambling Control Commission monitors licensees with respect to their activities. They also ensure that all certificate holders under them ensure due to conduct in authorizing gambling games at their domains. Licensees need to manage as well as conduct games as per Alderney’s legislation which includes the following:

  • Licensees should use eGambling equipment which is approved by the commission.

  • They can permit people to gamble with money on their domains only after they have registered.

  • Licensees should not permit underage people to play.

  • Licensees need to deal with funds of customers as per rules in Regulations section 228 to 234.

  • Before a customer is permitted to gamble on a licensee’s domain, they need to ensure that all pertinent information about the game is available to the customer.

  • Whenever a customer sets limits for gambling activities on their accounts, a licensee should adhere to the limits.

Testing Standards

The licensing body tests licensees with respect to the equipment or technology they use on eGambling domains. The commission outsources testing of equipment to different testing laboratories across the world. Organizations that want to avail of testing by the commission need to submit a signed document showcasing ownership of the organization. They need to show audited accounts or annual reports as well as past testing reports. They also need to show relevant certifications such as relevant ISO standard certificates. For instance, testing houses usually possess ISO-17025-2001 accreditation certificates. 

Testing is as per an inspection regime that is published by AGCC to which parties comply. Staff from AGCC usually carries out tests as per the standard checklist. This is usually built from the requirements of relevant ISO standards. Also, if a gambling domain is registered under AGCC, they need to comply with certain additional licensing guidelines. 

Protection of Players

The Commission’s licensed domains make them fair, honest entertainment portals. They remain free from unfair practices and have transparent gambling laws and standards that they adhere to. 

Individual players are protected by the functions of the commission in the following ways:

  • They assess all entities who offer gambling games on the platform of a licensee; that involves knowing sources of funding for the different software providers as well as who are the ultimate owners of a licensed entity.

  • The commission assesses internal control as well as operating procedures of a licensed operator; this ensures that the right controls are present to limit risks associated with gambling.

  • The commission assesses auditability, security, and fairness of gambling systems that are employed by a licensee.

  • They review the advertising and marketing policies of those registered with them.

  • They investigate complaints of aggrieved players.

  • They grant approval as well as review policies in place at the different licensee domains, with respect to underage gambling and player protection.

Besides the above, the commission also ensures the protection of funds into customer accounts in licensee domains. They check policies that limit customer activities on different domains as well as counsel customers and look into how customer complaints are being handled at the different licensee domains. 

Protecting Customer Funds

AGCC sets guidelines for all licensees to adhere to certain ratios which in turn ensure the financial health of gambling operations. Those who are category 1 license holders under AGCC need to ensure that credits of registered customers in their accounts are not used for operating their business. Businesses can apply for a waiver of this requirement by submitting a guarantee in writing that customers would be informed of the associated risks. Hence, customers need to be aware that their funds might be lost in case the business suffers from insolvency. 

Customers need to be aware that, despite regulatory standards that licensees need to maintain, customer funds are usually not safeguarded fully, especially in case of licensees become insolvent. 

Safety Limits at the Alderney Casino License

Customers can set limits to their gambling activities, as per certain terms set by the commission. For instance, if it is a casino holding a gambling license of category 1, the following limits can be set by customers to have a safer gambling experience:

  • Customers can set limits as to the amount they can deposit in their account within a certain time period.

  • They can set limits to the loss they can make as per the number of times they wager or within a certain period of time.

  • Limits can also be set as to the number of times one wagers or within a certain time period.

When a licensee receives notice from the commission, they are forbidden from the following activities, in order to safeguard customers and their funds:

  • They cannot accept deposits from new or existing customers.

  • They cannot permit customers to lose.

  • Allow debits to happen towards wagers from customer funds.

  • Cannot allow associate partners holding customer funds, to debit wagers from such funds.

A licensee will also honor customers’ limit instructions in the following ways:

  • If a licensee receives notice from a customer who sets limits on his account, they should not market their gambling services to such a customer, especially till the time that the limit on the customer account remains zero.

  • A licensee, who receives notice from a customer, should not publicize or directly market their services to such a customer, till the time when the customer wishes that their limit remains zero.

  • Category 1 licensees, who have received notice from the gambling commission, should not encourage customers to remove or raise their account limits.

If a customer wishes to change their account limit or remove the same, they can do so by sending a written notice to a licensee who is registered under category 1 with the commission. 

How to Lodge Complaints via the Alderney Gambling Control Commission?

The commission sets procedures and rules following which customers of licensee domains can lodge complaints. If a licensee breaches any provision, a customer can lodge a formal complaint to the commission. This will also bring the complaint to the licensee’s attention, with which one has registered for playing.

Initially, the customer should lodge a complaint with the licensee. If he or she is not satisfied with the way the complaint is addressed, Regulation 238 sets the way forward from there. A registered customer can then lodge a formal complaint directly to the licensing body, the commission. 

How to Place Complaints?

If a customer of a licensee domain wishes to place a written complaint about the domain to the regulatory body, they can do so in the following way:

  • Step 1

Once a complaint is received in writing, the commission will appoint an officer. He or she will then get in touch with the reported licensee. They will also get in touch with the person who has lodged the complaint. They will then try to resolve the dispute that lies between the licensee and the customer. 

  • Step 2

In case the procedure tried in step 1 is not successful, the commission’s executive director will then ask for an investigation to be carried out in full. This will be done by an officer from the commission. He or she will then consider the report submitted by the complainant as well as investigations into the same. After that, he or she will arrive at a decision regarding the dispute between the licensee and the customer. The officer will then arrive at a decision and ask whether other parties accept the decision to resolve the dispute.

  • Step 3

If the licensee and the customer accept the preliminary decision arrived at by the officer appointed by the executive director, then the decision is considered to be final and binding.

  • Step 4

If one or either of the recipients are not in agreement with the preliminary decision arrived at by the executive director’s office, then the dispute is then referred to a board of commissioners. They will hear the dispute, as per the rules set in section 239.

Hearing

A hearing is scheduled by commissioners of the regulatory body as per rules set down in section 238(6):

  • A hearing set by the commission is notified to the customer as well as to the licensee by giving a notice of 14 days and setting the time, place, and date for the same.

  • The complainant can decide to represent him or herself through writing only in case he or she does not want to attend the hearing by themselves or send in a representative.

  • The licensee can also confine themselves by representing themselves in writing or could send across a legal representative to attend the scheduled hearing.

  • At the hearing scheduled the complainant can make his or her representations if they are attending.

  • The commission will authorize an officer and appoint such a person to report on the investigation; he or she can ask questions to any attendee, whether it is the complainant or the licensee.

  • If the licensee attends the hearing then he or she can provide representations in response to a complaint lodged.

  • At any time during the hearing commissioners can also ask questions.

Hearings are usually held in a public building in Alderney unless otherwise mentioned. 

Decisions for Resolution of the Complaint

After the hearing is concluded as per rules set in section 239, the commission will then arrive at a decision, on behalf of the concerned parties:

  • Whether complaint of a customer has been put in the part or full.

  • What steps should the licensee take, as per other provisions in the licensing norms?

  • Whether there are any payments to be paid to the commission, whether by the complainant or the licensee.

If a customer, who has attended the hearing before commissioners is found to be guilty of placing a complaint that is ill-founded, the commission can direct the customer to pay or contribute towards expenses that the commission incurs as well as pay towards the costs of the licensee for having to appear before the commission’s regulatory body.

In case the licensee is found guilty, then the licensee needs to compensate the customer for all or some costs that he or she incurred in pursuing their complaint. Also, the licensee is required to contribute towards compensating the commission’s costs that they incur.

All Online Casino Groups with an Alderney Casino License

Online Casinos from the following groups have a license under the laws of Alderney