Bigwinboard is embroiled in a legal tug of war with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), claiming the regulator threatened to block access to its comparison site for UK visitors.
In a blog post, the affiliate site said it “recently faced unexpected legal pressure from the UKGC” and explained the core issue revolved around the site’s listing of “unlicensed casinos”.
However, Bigwinboard said the accusations remain “vague” and “puzzling”, considering that Bigwinboard neither caters to the UK market, nor operates within it.
The casino comparison site further stressed that it is not an operator and therefore does “not have any direct obligations towards the regulator”.
Affiliate or operator?
Bigwinboard was founded by Daniel Hansson Sokcic in 2017 as an iGaming news site and casino comparison service.
In response to the UKGC’s message, Bigwinboard has questioned whether the regulator fully understands the website primarily serves as a review site and global web community for gamblers.
“We find the UKGC’s request to be an overreach, infringing on our right to operate freely in an international context.
“We intend to stand firm against this pressure, championing the principles of free speech and open access to information,” Bigwinboard said.
When NEXT.io contacted the UKGC for comment, a spokesperson stated that the regulator does not discuss individual cases.
The regulator did however mention its duty to investigate and take action against operators advertising unlicensed websites, without addressing the fact that Bigwinboard is an affiliate, and not an operator.
Meanwhile, Bigwinboard founder Sokcic shared on LinkedIn: “Thanks for all the private messages and support. I know not everyone is comfortable criticising the UKGC publicly due to fear of repercussions or just getting on their radar, and some have even deleted their own comments here, but it’s obvious that the relationship between the UKGC and the industry is anything but healthy.”
The site also suggested that the situation with the UKGC goes beyond a legal dispute and may serve as a litmus test for “integrity and resilience” in the face of regulatory overreach.
The affiliate also stressed that it would continue to operate within its legal rights and described the situation as a “noteworthy case study in the balance between regulation and freedom on the digital frontier, with implications far beyond the gambling industry”.
In conversation with NEXT.io, Sokcic added that he feels “that Bigwinboard is being deliberately targeted” because he recently questioned their policies in a separate blog post.
“I believe this is a ‘punishment’. Out of all the big platforms and streamers, only we seem to have been singled out,” he said.
Sokcic said the UKGC informed him that not only do operators who target British customers without a licence commit an offence under the Gambling Act, but so do those who advertise illegal gambling, as they are in violation of section 330 of the regulation.
Widening the scope
The relationship between affiliates and unlicensed operators has become a significant point of discussion across the industry in recent years.
Historically, UK enforcement efforts have focused on the operators directly, with licensed operators also held directly accountable for the actions of the external affiliate partners.
But in recent months, the UKGC has widened its scope to combat the threat of offshore gambling by partnering up with ISPs, payment providers and software licensees.
These efforts have resulted in a 46% reduction in traffic to the market’s largest illegal sites, according to UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes.
Elsewhere this year, German regulator GGL imposed a substantial administrative fine on a licensed operator for promoting their services on affiliate websites that also advertise unregulated offers.