Online Gambling Regulators and Licensing Agencies

Why Do Online Casino Licenses Matter?

If you are wondering why there are licenses for online casinos at all, we are here to discuss it. On one hand, it is a question of liberalising and regulating the market. That’s why guidelines, standards and rules are set. On the other hand, gambling licenses are also important sources of revenue for the countries because of the taxes that online casinos pay.

Without a license, basically, no online casino or a betting provider is allowed to offer its services. A license is equivalent to legal permission to offer sports betting and casino games. So if you come across an online casino without a license on the Internet, avoid it better. With such providers, you can be sure that they do not abide by any rules but only act according to their own interests. Player protection, secure transactions and everything that otherwise belongs to a fair and functioning casino will most likely not be considered here.

Online Casinos with EU License- Are They All the Same?

From what you have learned so far about gambling concessions, the impression could arise that online casinos with EU licences, no matter from which country, apply the same rules. But that is not the case. In this article, we will refer to the most important gambling licences issued by EU countries. However, there is no EU licence that provides standard rules for all the countries involved. Each country applies its own rules and standards with its approval. Nevertheless, it can be said that an EU licence is an advantage, as it speaks for a certain seriousness of the online casinos equipped with it.

In addition to the well-known gambling licences from Malta and Gibraltar, there are also a few other EU jurisdictions that now issue permits. Encouraged by the EU to regulate the gambling industry, countries such as Italy, Spain, Sweden, Finland and Estonia are focusing on the EU’s freedom of services but mostly on the domestic market.

Overview of EU Gambling Licences

It should have become clear by now that the big countries in Europe are not taking a great part in licensing. That is why we want to introduce you to those countries that dominate the business. What matters here is how they differ and what to expect in terms of player protection, respectability and other important aspects.

Popular: License from Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)

Maltese online casino license is one of the most popular EU licenses. Casinos that offer the games of developed by such casino games providers as Novoline and Microgaming are often regulated by the MGA license. Malta Gaming Authority has been issuing the licenses since 2001. It allows online casinos and bookmakers to offer players their services on the internet. Comparatively low taxation and favourable legal conditions are the reasons for the great popularity of their permits. As a result, gambling is now also of great economic importance to Malta, accounting for around 10% of its gross domestic product.

The MGA distributes four different types of gambling licenses:

  • Class 1 – a  gaming licence for online casino games and online lotteries based on the Random Number Generator.
  • Class 2 – a licence for the fixed-odds betting on different events like football matches, tennis tournaments, etc.
  • Class 3 – a licence aimed at companies offering fixed-odds and skilled-based casino games (poker, for example).
  • Class 4 – a licence that is aimed at companies that offer servers that run the platforms on the internet, i.e. this is a B2B licence.

The operations and the fairness of the games offered by online casinos are constantly monitored by the MGA. This allows you as a player to be sure that your winnings will be securely transferred to your bank account. In terms of player protection, though, the MGA could be even more consistent. While there is a discussion forum where players can share issues, the Authority rarely participates.

Germany’s Exception: Online Casino License Schleswig Holstein

In Germany, the gambling monopoly still rests with the state. It is actually forbidden to offer online casino games on the internet, except for sports betting. However, since gambling is a matter of country with the federal system, the individual federal states can initiate their own laws in this regard.

Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost federal state, claimed its right in 2012 and began issuing its own gambling licenses. Under German law, players outside Schleswig-Holstein are still not allowed to play in online casinos with a federal license. But here, however, the higher EU law, with its freedom to provide services, is taking effect again. As a player, you don’t have to fear any legal consequences if you’re playing slots or other games on a casino website with an online casino license Schleswig Holstein.

Just as it is handled on the land between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, it does not happen in any other German state. No wonder because the actions of Schleswig-Holstein were also controversial because the gambling state treaty is the decisive document to which all other federal states are committed. The widespread gambling ban serves the common good by preventing gambling addiction. However, the gambling state treaty remains controversial. Not only in the individual federal states, but also at EU level, which is pushing Germany to come up with an improved law compliant with the EU law.

With the decision of 21 March 2019, however, the German landscape has hardly changed for the time being when it comes to gambling licences. The third cross-state contract to renew gambling licences has been extended until June 2021. Schleswig-Holstein, therefore, remains an exception within strictly regulated and prohibited online gambling in Germany.

Also Favourite: Gibraltar Gambling License

In addition to the license of Malta,  the Gibraltar gaming license is also extremely popular with bookmakers and online casinos  Since the passage of the Gambling act of 2005, companies have had the opportunity to secure the gambling license from the British overseas territory. In Gibraltar, too, the tax and legal course have been set in such a way as to provide extremely favourable conditions for licensees.

The Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA) also places certain conditions on licensees that they are required to comply with. This includes, among other things, maintaining secured payments, effective data protection and compliance with player privacy. Controlling the technical functionality of the games is also one of their tasks. Similar to MGA, players could also be better supported by the GBGA on issues and complaints.

Still on the Rise: The Cyprus Gaming Commission (CGC)

Cyprus, another small state within the European Union, has set itself the goal of liberalising the gambling market at home. As a result, the Cypriot state has been issuing its own gambling licenses since 2015. With liberalization, those in power hope for additional tax revenues and an economic upswing. Cyprus is still in its infancy in this respect but wants to establish itself on the market in the long term. So far, comparatively few casinos possess a gambling licence from Cyprus.

Licenses Outside the EU

The Channel Islands, the Caribbean and Small States of Central America.
Now you know that the most important gambling licences are issued in the European Union. In addition, of course, there are many other countries that have found their niche here. As in the EU, it is mainly smaller countries or so-called Crown holdings of the British Royalty that have focused on issuing gambling licences. Among them are the Channel Islands, the Caribbean and small states of Central America.

Alderney Gambling Control Commission License

Gambling licensing is booming, especially in small states, and Alderney is a great example. This is not even a separate country, but part of so-called British Crown dependency. Even so, the northernmost of the Channel Islands, which lie between Britain and France, it is entitled to issue gambling licences.

You as a player can rejoice because online casinos that have a license from Alderney submit to high standards, especially in terms of player protection. For example, games’ payout ratio (RTP) is constantly reviewed, prevention measures such as the player’s self- exclusion or time limits are mandatory. Because not many companies meet these high gambling license requirements, relatively few casinos hold an Alderney Gambling Control Commission License.

Antigua and Barbuda Gaming Authority

Antigua and Barbuda is the very first country to issue gambling licenses to online casinos. This island nation is located southeast of Puerto Rico, between the Caribbean and the North Atlantic. It consists of the two namesake islands Antigua and Barbuda and is home to around 100,000 people. Since 1994, it issues an authorisation to provide gambling services to casino operators.

The competent inspection authority, the Antiguan Directorate of Offshore Gaming, is particularly concerned with the protection of players. In its policies, it urges licensees to always check the age of customers and to warn them of the risk of gambling addiction. If you as a player have problems with withdrawals, the Antiguan Directorate of Offshore Gaming is at your side at all times. There is still a small minus point: when examining the games offered by the casinos, the security aspect is often faced with that of fairness, which is logically not ideal.

Gambling License of Curacao

One other island that acts as a provider of government gambling licenses is Curacao. The island, located about 60 kilometres north of Venezuela’s mainland, is home to 160000 inhabitants. The gambling authority is the Сuraçao Gaming Сontrol Board.

Online casinos that are licensed by Curacao are considered highly trustworthy. The Board protects players, controls liquidity and fairness among licensees. Curacao’s gambling license is thus one of the safest outside the European Union.

Costa Rican State License

Also, on the mainland of Central America, there are states that distribute licenses to gambling providers. One of them is Costa Rica. At a good price, online casinos receive state permission to offer their products on the internet. However, there is no regulation on the part of the Costa Rican Government. Here, the primary goal seems to be to earn as much money as possible from issuing the coveted licenses. Unfortunately, there is no control of quality or it does not matter. Therefore, we would advise not to join the casinos that hold a gambling license from Costa Rica.

Belize Gambling License

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, Belize authorities do not seem to be solely concerned with making money from issuing licenses.
Belize licensure is extremely positive due to the very high standards of player protection and control of companies. There are still relatively few casinos with such a license to be found on the internet.

Indians as Licensees: Gambling Thanks to Kahnawake

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is the competent authority of the Mohawk Indian reservation in the Canadian province of Quebec. Since 1996, official gambling licenses can be purchased there, which entitle casinos to offer online casino games on the internet.

How to Apply for an Online Gambling License?

By now, you already know about different authorities that are entitled to either authorise or ban gambling and sports betting in different jurisdictions. Getting government permission to provide sports betting or casino games on the internet requires money and ability to comply with all requirements. Different types of games or services may require separate licenses.

In order to show what it takes to apply for a gambling licence, we would like to use Malta as an example.

  1. The first requirement is that the candidate owns a company based in Malta. Not only must the headquarters be located in Malta, but the managing director of the company must also be a resident of Malta.
  2. The company must also have a Maltese bank account and pay taxes in Malta. Without a bank account on the island, this is not possible anyway.
  3. Another requirement is that the servers must be located in Malta, too. So it’s not like there is much room for manoeuvre to outsource some services if you want to apply for a gambling license of this island.
  4. There is another regulation that companies have to comply with – but only after they have already obtained an online casino license. If that is the case, the company must appoint an official rapporteur to constantly monitor that the guidelines and rules associated with the license are being complied with and then periodically send reports to the MGA.

In this way, the authority secures itself and remains aware of developments at the online casinos or bookmakers outside its own controls.

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