Casino licenses simply explained
Each casino needs to have a license delivered from an official gambling authority organization in order to guarantee legitimacy and fairness. Online gambling legislation varies greatly from country to country. There are many jurisdictions all over the world that issue gambling licenses to online casinos. Such licenses are issued only after the online casino business meets the requirements of the chosen jurisdiction.
Types of gambling licenses
There are two kinds of licenses in online gambling: international (also known as offshore gambling licenses) and internal or country-specific (national) gambling licenses. Of course an International gambling license aims a larger market coverage. An internal license on the other hand allows an online casino to legally function within the borders of one specific country. Examples of internally regulated gambling markets are the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Portugal, Mexico, The Netherlands and others. For each country, the respective government carries out the licensing, monitoring and regulatory procedures.
There are quite a few international gambling jurisdictions. Below is a brief overview of the most frequently chosen international gambling jurisdictions.
The most popular international gambling jurisdictions
Malta (part of the EU) is for European casino operators the most important online gambling jurisdiction in the world. Malta is known as a highly reputable EU gaming jurisdiction. It has granted licenses to well over 450 online gaming sites since 2000. Gaining a license in Malta opens the doors to many banks around the world where it will be possible to open a merchant account for processing banking cards. It has developed and created very specific and rigorous policies and procedures for remote gambling operations. As a result, Malta licensed casinos may be considered as very reliable for players in mobile casinos.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission was founded in 1996 and is since holding licenses to over 120 online gambling sites. The basic requirements for acquiring a license are less strict in comparison with Maltese licenses. On the other hand, to keep safe gaming, the licenses of the Kahnawake jurisdiction are (very) expensive. Over the last decade, the Kahnawake jurisdiction become the largest grey-market gaming jurisdiction in the world. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is proud of its hard-won reputation. We talk here of approximately 250 online gaming websites.
Gibraltar (EU member) is home to almost 300 online gaming sites and over 30 online gaming operators. It is independent from UK tax laws and there is no VAT, so it is a rather exclusive gambling jurisdiction. Licensing covers poker, bingo, betting and online casino websites. They take casino licensing very serious: only operators who have a proven track record and whose software has passed rigorous testing. On the other hand, it’s one of the cheapest licensing jurisdictions in Europe. That is the main reason why most companies wish to acquire a license from Gibraltar.
• United Kingdom
The UK allows online gaming since 2006 as long as it’s regulated by the Gambling Commission. At present, around 120 online gaming companies are registered in the UK. All types of gaming products such as poker, casino games, bingo, sports betting and race betting are allowed. Online casinos need to obtain a remote license from the UKGC in order to to accept players from the UK and promote themselves on the local market. A majority of the best online casinos are typically licensed in the UK along with one other familiar jurisdiction like Isle of Man or Alderney. UK licensed casinos may be considered as very reliable with a strong financial security backing control.
• Alderney Gambling Commission
In 2005 the Alderney Gambling Commission (AGC) introduced a free market approach towards e-gambling, covering all markets in online gaming, including casino games, sports betting, and live casino broadcasts. Since then any online casino with the license of this jurisdiction can operate on the international level. Alderney transmits more Internet e-gambling traffic than any other location on the globe. They claim to be much larger than the combined activity of its three European offshore rivals, being Gibraltar, the Isle of Man and Malta. Alderney acts as an important and reliable, trustful conduit for the hosting of online gambling events with a variety of iGaming companies, transmitting more traffic in this sector than anywhere else on the globe.
• Isle of Man
In the Isle of Man application procedures for an online gambling site is quite extensive and expensive. At present this is one of the most popular jurisdictions that is known for its strict requirements, as well as professional and unbiased monitoring and control of the online gambling companies applying for licenses. Applicants must have a solid money reserve for payouts, prove to be reputable and offer fair gaming principles. All licensed casino companies must be registered in the Isle of Man and the servers hosting the online casino should also be located there.
• Curaçao and Netherlands Antilles
Currently over 450 licenses are being upheld in the island. These licenses allow almost everything to operators, such as Poker, the traditional casino gaming, sportsbetting, Exchange betting, Live betting, Live dealers casino games, mobile gambling, mobile poker games, Fantasy sports betting, Forex trading, Binary options trading and even Lotteries. The advantages to having a license from the Netherlands Antilles include the possibility of obtaining sub-licenses to online gaming operations from the Netherlands Antilles. No wonder it’s a super popular jurisdiction for iGaming. The license holding entity must be incorporated on Curaçao. Not the best reputation!
• Costa Rica
Costa Rica has always been the favourite centre to hundreds of legal and illegal online gaming companies. Currently the number of casinos is estimated at approximately over 160 but the right number probably does not know anyone. They have no gambling legislation because of the fact that the government does not consider online gambling to be taking place at the location of the gaming servers but instead at the place where the player is interacting with the gaming software. So, as a result of this policy, you can consider that Costa Rica has in reality no gambling licensing. In practice, Costa Rica’s companies that offer online gambling services do need to obtain a data processing license, and that is of course not an official gambling license. No wonder that this lack of a decent gaming legislation nor online gambling control has resulted in unreliable companies with rogue online gaming sites.
• Antigua and Barbuda
The islands of Antigua and Barbuda offer two types of online gaming licenses: gaming (casino games and poker) and sports betting. Antigua and Barbuda is a respected but at the same time expensive gaming license jurisdiction. The application procedure lasts at least 60 days. A reserve of $100,000 is required before the casino starts operating. They handle severe anti-fraud and money laundering regulations.
Other less popular jurisdictions around the world include Australia, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Native Territories, Montenegro, New Zealand. Russian Federation, Sweden, Tasmania and United States.
There are approximately 2000 Internet gaming sites based out of Alderney, owned by around 350 companies.
Can you see where a casino is licensed?
Yes, most online casinos display this information in their website’s footer. Scroll to the bottom of ANY page (not only their Homepage!) and you should see a stamp, a crest or a name, indicating where the website is registered.