Online casino gaming licences
Within a given profession or area of expertise of online casinos, nothing is more important to the player than the online casino licenses held by the operator. There is a large number of gambling licenses from different countries.
From time to time, players also encounter online casinos that offer slot machines and classic casino games on the Internet without regulation and completely uncontrolled. For this reason, we provide you with all the relevant information about online casino licenses.
What are online gambling licenses anyway? Who needs a license for casino? What online casinos with UK and EU license are there? Answers to these and other questions can be found below. We clarify which online casino licenses stand for standardized guidelines. In addition, we give you some tips on the way to which casinos you can deposit safely and worry-free.
Why casino licenses are important?
A reliable casino business stars with getting of an online gambling license. This allows casino to operate legally and proves that the company is trustworthy and committed to a fair gaming policy. A license is also an indicator of transparency in business operations, casino offers and the security of the software offered to customers.
It is impossible to open a business account at a bank without such a license. Banks are very cautious before entering into a business relationship, but they will always be happy to work with a company that is recognized by a legislative institution in a country.
There are many countries around the world that issue gaming licenses for online casinos. The most reputable and well known are the United Kingdom and the islands in the Caribbean and Pacific, Curacao, Antigua, and Vanuatu. Online gaming licenses are only issued once the casino has met the requirements applicable in that country.
If you ask yourself why there are licenses for online casinos at all, we are quickly at fundamental discussions. On the one hand, it is a matter of liberalizing and regulating the market, i.e. to set guidelines, standards and rules. On the other hand, gambling licenses – and the taxes that online casinos pay – can also be important sources of income for states. It is in the area of tension between these political and administrative discussions that the current regulations have developed in most countries that issue licenses.
Put more simply: without a license for gambling, no online casino or betting provider is allowed to offer its services. A licence is equivalent to a legal permission to offer sports betting and casino games. So if you come across an online casino on the Internet without a license, then better avoid it. With such providers, you can be sure that they have no rules, but only act according to their own interests. Player protection, secure transactions and everything else that otherwise belongs to a fair and functioning casino, are most likely not further considered here.
Casino operators must comply with a whole range of conditions. Despite various demands in the individual points, the standards in the United Kingdom and the European Union are very high for all licensing bodies and do not only apply to casino gaming.
Technical standard, such as encryption during data transmission, must be as high as the storage of all games played for a certain period of time. Casinos also have a social responsibility. Thus, they are prescribed how and what they are allowed to advertise, what help they have to offer endangered players (self-locking, limits, etc.) and also offer alternative dispute resolution free of charge. In addition, operators must also comply within the requirements of the Money Laundering Act.
Licensing bodies are not only responsible for issuing licences, the tasks are manifold and include, but are not limited to:
- Monitoring the licensees
- Safeguarding the rights of players
- Protection of players and operators from criminal activities
- Measures against fraud and money laundering
- Protection of minors and an active approach to gambling
Gambling licences at a glance
It should have become clear by now that the large countries in Europe are not doing a great deal in terms of licensing. That’s why we want to introduce you to the UK, EU and other countries that dominate the concessions business. The decisive factor is how they differ and what you can expect in terms of player protection, seriousness and the important other aspects.
Among the regulatory authorities with the most widespread licenses, which are considered very strict and safe:
- UK Gambling Commission (non-EU, regulates the UK gambling market)
- Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)
- Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (British territory)
- Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (not EU, but a very strict licence)
- Alderney Gambling Control Commission (not EU, but also a very strict licence)
- Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission
- Antigua and Barbuda Online Gambling Licensing
- Curaçao Gaming Control Board
- Belize Gambling
- Kahnawake Gaming Commission
UK Gambling Commission
United Kingdom first renewed its law in 2005, which had been in force since 1968, with the UK Gambling Commission’s Gambling Act 2005. This new act regulates gambling market in the United Kingdom. After online casinos recorded a fast growth, this also became necessary. Licensed UK online casino keeps high standard and works in legitimate way. UKGC focuses mainly on monitoring whether a provider acts fairly, transparently and cooperatively in the fight against addiction.
Under the Gambling Act 2005, licensing process:
- Removes connection between gambling and criminal activity (money laundering)
- Ensures that table games and online slots are not rigged, fair and transparent
- Prevents children and vulnerable persons from being exploited
To obtain a licence, a gambling company must meet the eligibility criteria set out by the UK Gambling Commission. These include but are not limited to:
- Confirmation of the identity of the person/company applying for a licence to ensure accountability
- Proof of sufficient financial resources to run the business without financial collapse due to several large winnings
- Proof of person or company is honest and trustworthy
- Qualifications and experience confirming that person or entity is capable to operate a gambling business
- Proof of flawless criminal record
The main difference between this license and the license from Malta is that players resident in the UK are only allowed to play at online casinos licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. (Source: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/)
Malta Gaming Authority
One of the most popular EU licenses is that of the island state of Malta. Especially casinos that offer the games of manufacturers such as NetEnt and Microgaming are often equipped with an online casino license Malta. The majority of new online casinos also have this license.
Since 2001, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) as the competent authority has been awarding the coveted licences. It allows online casinos and bookmakers to offer their services to players on the Internet. Comparatively low taxation and favourable legal conditions are the reasons for the great popularity of the licences of the small island in the Mediterranean. As a result, gambling has also become of great economic importance for Malta, accounting for around 10% of the country’s gross domestic product.
The MGA distributes four different types of gambling licences. The first type is aimed at providers of casino games (Class 1), the second at providers of sports betting (Class 2). The third type of licence issued by Malta is aimed at companies offering games with fixed odds and stakes (Class 3). This is mainly concerned with poker platforms. An online casino license Malta of the fourth type (Class 4) is not directly relevant for operators of online casinos. Rather, it is aimed at companies that, for example, offer servers that run the platforms on the Internet.
Online casinos licensed by Malta are subject to guidelines by which the MGA regulates and controls its licensees. Thus, the gaming operations and the fairness of the games offered are constantly monitored. The solvency of the individual casinos is also monitored. As a player you can be sure that your winnings will reach you. As far as player protection is concerned, the MGA could be a little more consistent. There is a discussion forum in which players can exchange information about problems. However, the state authorities rarely actively participate. (Source: http://www.mga.org.mt/)
Gibraltar Regulatory Authority
In addition to the licence from Malta, licence from Gibraltar is extremely popular with bookmakers and online casinos. Since the adoption of the UK Gambling Act of 2005, companies have had the opportunity to obtain a gaming licence from the British overseas territory. In Gibraltar, tax and legal course has been set in extremely favourable conditions for licensees there.
The Gibraltar Gambling Commission also imposes certain conditions on licensees, which they must comply with. These include, among other things, the maintenance of secure liquidity for the payment of winnings, effective data protection and the observance of the players’ privacy. They are also responsible for monitoring the technical functioning of the games. As in the case of Malta, the Gibraltar Gaming Authority could also provide players with better support in the event of problems and complaints. (Source: https://www.gra.gi/)
Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission
With Cyprus, another small state within the European Union has set itself the goal of liberalising the gambling market in its own country. For this reason, the Cypriot state has been issuing its own gambling licences since 2015. The government hopes that liberalisation will generate additional tax revenues and an economic upturn. Although Cyprus is still in its infancy in this respect, it would like to establish itself in the market in the long term. So far, comparatively few casinos have been issued with a gaming licence from Cyprus. (Source: http://www.cgc.org.cy/)
Alderney Gambling Control Commission
The example of Alderney shows that the granting of gambling licences is booming, especially in small states. This is not even an independent country, but so-called crown possessions, which are directly subordinated to the British Crown. Nevertheless, the northernmost of the Channel Islands, which lie between Great Britain and France, is equipped with the competence to issue gambling licences.
You as a player can be happy about this, because online casinos that have a license from Alderney are subject to high standards, especially in terms of player protection. For example, the payout percentage (RTP) is constantly monitored, preventive measures such as a time display on the casino’s website and a possible voluntary exclusion of players are mandatory. Because not many companies meet these high gambling licence requirements, relatively few casinos have a licence from the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. (Source: https://www.gamblingcontrol.org/)
Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission
Similarly strict rules as Alderney has another island: the Isle of Man. Although it is not a Channel Island, but is located in the Irish Sea, it has the same legal status as Alderney. It is also directly under the British Crown as a Crown property and is therefore not part of the United Kingdom. However, it also has the status of a separate legal entity and can therefore issue its own gambling licences.
Not only the legal status, but also our assessment of the seriousness of the licence is very similar to that of Alderney. It is also respected and gives great importance to player protection. Policies are constantly being revised and adapted. Licensees must always prove the fairness of the games they offer.
As neither Alderney nor the Isle of Man is part of the United Kingdom and therefore not of the EU, their freedom to provide services has no influence here either. However, no action is taken against players and operators within the EU. This is most likely due to collusion between governments. As a player, you should be aware that if you have problems with payouts or similar issues, you cannot rely on the support of the EU judiciary. As both islands are considered very serious licensors, as mentioned above, such disagreements should not occur. (Source: https://www.gov.im/)
Antigua and Barbuda Online Gambling Licensing
As the very first country to issue gambling licenses to online casinos, Antigua and Barbuda applies. This island state is located southeast of Puerto Rico, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It consists of the two eponymous islands Antigua and Barbuda and is home to around 100 000 people. Since 1994, operators of gambling on the Internet have been able to obtain a licence there.
The responsible inspection authority, the Antiguan Directorate of Offshore Gaming, is particularly concerned with the protection of players. In its guidelines, it requires licensees to always check the age of customers and to warn them effectively and prominently of the danger of gambling addiction. Should you as a player experience problems with payouts, the Antiguan Directorate of Offshore Gaming is always on hand to intervene and intervene. However, there is one small drawback: when checking the games offered by casinos, the aspect of security often takes precedence over fairness, which is logically not ideal. (Source: http://www.antiguagaming.gov.ag/)
Curaçao Gaming Control Board
Another island that acts as a provider of state gambling licenses is Curacao. The island, located about 60 kilometers north of Venezuela’s mainland, has a population of 160 000. The authority in charge of gambling is the Curaçao Gaming Control Board.
Online casinos that are licensed by Curacao are considered very trustworthy. The island state in the Caribbean protects the players, controls the liquidity and fairness of the licensees. Curacao’s gambling licence is therefore one of the safest outside the European Union. (Source: https://www.gamingcontrolcuracao.org/)
There is another Central American country that distributes gambling licenses to online casinos. We are talking about Belize, one of the smaller countries between the USA and Colombia. Unlike Costa Rica, the authorities of Belize do not seem to be solely interested in making money by issuing licenses.
After all, Belize’s concessions are extremely positive because of very high standards of player protection and corporate control. There are still relatively few casinos with such a licence on the Internet. However, based on our current assessment, it does not seem unreasonable that we will see Belize as a licensor of online casinos in the future. (Source: http://www.sice.oas.org/)
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
For a long time, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was a very important point of contact for gambling providers. It is the competent authority of the Mohawk Indian Reservation in the Canadian province of Quebec. Already since 1996, official gambling licenses can be acquired there, which entitle to offer casino games on the Internet.
As mentioned earlier, Kahnawake used to be a more frequent destination, but this has now faded somewhat. This may be due to the fact that there has been little regulation of gambling through controls and similar measures. First and foremost the importance of the online casino license costs as a source of money was in focus. However, this has been improving for some time, so that, for example, a discussion forum for players has been set up. In the event of disputes, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission is keen to assist and mediate. (Source: https://www.gamingcommission.ca/)
How to obtain an online gambling license?
We have already explained why there is such a thing as a gambling license and which licenses are to be assessed in which way. Another interesting point is the question of gambling licenses and their requirements. In order to obtain a state licence for the marketing of sports betting or casino games on the Internet, one or two preliminary services are required. As different as the gambling licenses are in their guidelines and requirements in terms of data and player protection, the process of gambling license allocation is also different.
Application process (Malta example)
To show what it takes to apply for a gambling licence, we would like to use Malta as an example. The first requirement is that the applicant must own a company based on the island state.
Not only does the head office have to be located in Malta, but also the managing director of the company must be registered with his main residence on the Mediterranean island. In addition, the company must have a Maltese bank account and be registered for tax and VAT in Malta.
Without a bank account on the island this is not possible anyway. These points alone constitute all kinds of gambling license requirements that must be observed when applying for an online casino license.
Another of the gambling license requirements is that the servers that the company uses to run its website must be located in Malta. So it’s not that there is great scope to outsource some services if you want to apply for a gambling license on the island state. The requirements also reflect the importance of gambling and related services as an economic sector for Malta.
There is another regulation that companies must comply with – but only if they have already obtained an online casino license Malta. If this is the case, the company has to appoint an official rapporteur who constantly monitors that the guidelines and rules associated with the state licence are being observed.
He must then send regular reports to the Malta Gaming Authority. In this way, the Authority secures itself and remains informed about developments in online casinos or bookmakers, even outside its own controls.
Buying a casino licence
Whoever wants to acquire an online casino license, must not only – we will stick to the example of Malta – register a company. There are also all kinds of fees and tax payments. First of all, there are the taxes that the person who wants to buy an online casino license must pay.
The license fee alone amounts to €8,500 per year, in addition there are handling fees of about €5,500, so that €14,000 are already due here.
There is a great deal of differentiation in taxation, since, as mentioned above, there are four different types of gambling licences in Malta. For the first and the fourth type, monthly taxes of €2,000-€7,000 have to be paid. The calculated monthly tax rate for the other types is based on the amount of income or the amount of bets received.
Bookmakers pay 0.5% of the betting income, companies offering poker pay 5% of the real income. To these monthly taxes an annual tax of about €47,000 is added – per license. This means that providers who have both betting and casino games in their portfolio have to pay double the amount. As already indicated, opening an online casino incurs considerable costs. You should also be aware that these are values for the gaming license from Malta, which is considered to be both fiscally and legally more favorable.