No one has a clear idea of how many online casinos there are on the Internet. Even experts in the industry estimate that this number varies between 3,000 and 4,000. However, no matter how many casino sites there are in total, it is possible to divide them into two basic categories: licensed and unlicensed. This may seem like a simple distinction at first glance, but it’s far more important than one might think. How safe, fair, and even profitable your online gambling experience will be is determined by the license of online casinos.
Although online gambling licenses are so important, it is difficult to find objective and up-to-date information about them. Most guides circumvent this topic in a few sentences and give no information about what casino licenses actually do. We have prepared this guide to make up for this deficiency. Below, you can find answers to every question you wonder about the online casino licenses in 2021. We will tell you what they are and why they are important.
Let’s start with the basics and first talk about what a license is. When the first online casino site was launched in the 1990s, players showed almost no interest. At the time, making an online payment was a pretty radical idea, and sending real money to a site to play games was an idea that people were quite skeptical of.
Microgaming, the founder of the first online casino in the world, came up with the idea of licensing to solve this problem. What it wanted to do was simple: Microgaming wanted to show players that it was authorized and regulated by a government agency to prove its trustworthiness. In this regard, the license would actually replace some form of official permit. But there was one problem. At that time, even the legality of land-based gambling was a matter of debate, and neither America nor any country in Europe was interested in granting such a license. Because doing so would mean recognizing the legality of online gambling.
However, an island nation showed interest in this idea and contacted Microgaming. This country was Curacao, and eGaming Curacao made history as the first official agency to give a license to an online casino site. As online gambling began to become more popular and legal, other countries began to set up similar agencies. Their purpose was to monitor, control, and audit the gambling activity in that country.
Today, online casino licenses still act as an official permit, meaning that casinos are regulated by the government. In other words, an official authority knows who owns the casino, checks how fair it is, and resolves player complaints when necessary. A license offers all this and more. We will talk about these benefits in more detail below.
Let’s imagine you’ve been playing in an unlicensed online casino for years, and there have never been any problems. Once you made a deposit of 10,000 EUR, but it never arrived in your balance. Customer service said the problem would be resolved within 24 hours. When you tried to enter the site the next day, you saw that such a site no longer exists. What would you do?
We can increase these examples. If you are playing at an unlicensed casino, you can never be sure how fair the games are. It is unclear whether you will be able to withdraw when you win – the operator can refuse your withdrawal request by making an excuse. There is nothing you can do against these problems because there is no agency that supervises the casino. You even have no idea who the owners are. The operator can close the casino at any time and reopen it under a different name after a few weeks.
Hence, a casino license protects the player above all else. Licensed casinos must regularly report on their financial activities, prove their games are fair, and show a bank deposit for their company. Even if they go bankrupt one day, it is possible to cover the losses of the players with this bank guarantee. Let’s put it simply like this. There is a casino controlled by the government on one hand, and an underground gambling den controlled by the mafia on the other. Which one do you feel safer in?
Casino licenses are important not only for players but also for countries. This is because:
Now you know why casino licenses are important. So, how do you control them? In other words, how do you know if an online casino is licensed? This is actually quite an easy process as licensed casinos have to display this information on every page of their website. License information is always at the bottom of the pages and is indicated by the logo of the licensing agency. When you click on this logo, the agency’s official website opens and detailed information about the license is displayed. So, to check the license:
The main advantage of a licensed casino is credibility. A gambling operator that is regulated and certified is an indication that the games are fair. In addition, these documents are proof that they are legitimate businesses and not crooks.
Some of the common gambler advantages are the following:
Every operator who wants to accept players from a certain country or region must obtain a license from the relevant agency of that country. For example, if you want to accept British players into your online casino, you must have a UKGC license. Even if you accept British players without this license, they will not be able to send you money (or you will be able to send money to them) because only UKGC licensed operators are allowed to make a transfer in the UK banking system. Some licenses are valid only for the country in which they were issued, while others may cover multiple countries. In this context, it is possible to list the most common online gambling licenses as follows:
There are four different types of licenses: games against the casino whose outcome is determined depending on RNG or skill, games not played against the casino but the operator still gets a commission and controlled skill games. It is possible to obtain both B2C and B2B licenses. The license application can be made online from start to finish. Click for more information.
There are two types of licenses, master and sub. Master licenses are valid for 5 years, and all sub-licenses depend on them. Sub-licenses are valid for 3 months. There are only 4 master licenses (license no 1668, 365, 5536, 8048) and new ones are no longer issued. These license holders can license other operators. This is why you always see the same license numbers in most casinos.
Gibraltar enforces UK laws on gambling licenses and a Gibraltar licensed casino can also accept players from the UK. However, many operators prefer to obtain a UKGC license, as some of the conditions are more severe (for example, a fairness report is required from one of 11 different auditors). Click for more information.
This is the name of the Mohawk territory in Canada, and it has its own local laws. Gambling is allowed in this region and four different types of licenses are available. You can check this page for more information & the types of these licenses.
Two types of licenses are available, B2B and B2C. Both have two sub-categories, based on whether the license holder is located in Alderney or not. If an operator wishes to provide third-party services to a license holder, it must get a Core Services Associate Certificate (CSAC) too. More info available here.
Four different types of licenses are available. Online casinos and bookmakers must obtain the OGRA license or get a sub-license of it. It is possible to get a license for exotic gambling too, such as fantasy football and pool betting. More info available here.
You can get a license for interactive gaming (online casinos) or interactive wagering (bookmaker). All of the applicants are verified by the English authorities too. However, there is no need to open a business in the country – only a local bank account is required.
Class A certificates are for bookmakers and Class B certificates are for online casinos. The capital of the operator must be at least 550,000 EUR and National Betting Authority (NBA) is the agency in charge. More info available here.
There is a different license cost for each jurisdiction. The gambling house also has to pay taxes from all its winnings. As you can see, legitimate casinos are real businesses that pay tens of thousands of dollars just to be able to operate. And we are just talking about fees; we are not yet discussing the game systems and software that the operator has to pay for. When it comes to licenses, there are three things you need to know:
The table below shows everything you need to know about the requirements and cost of every casino license.
|Malta||The company must be located in the country, the minimum authorized capital is up to 100,000 Euro.||Business plan
Proof of origin of funds
Certificates of games
|From 6 months||From 25,000 Euro|
|UKGC||Depends on the type of games. Local bank account + bank guarantee is needed.||Business plan
Certificates of games
|From 6 months||From 9,000 Euro|
|Curacao||Both the company and servers must be located in the country.||Business plan
Description of games
|From 3 months||From 14,900 Euro|
|Gibraltar||Experience in the iGaming industry, another license to operate in other jurisdictions, a bank account in Gibraltar||Copy of the current license
Letters of reputation
Gibraltar bank account
|From 1 year||From 40,000 Euro|
|Kahnawake||Both the company and servers must be located in the region||Business plan
|From 4 months||From 25,000 USD|
|Alderney||The operator must open a business in Alderney||Business plan
|From 1 year||Starts from 17,500 Euro, up to 400,000 Euro for renewal|
|Isle of Man||Two local directors, a company and bank account in the country||Business plan
|From 6 months||From 34,900 USD|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Two types of licenses, one for the casino, another for sports betting, no special requirement is needed||Business plan
Proof of origin of funds
|From 3 months||From 25,000 Euro|
|Cyprus||Depends on the type of games. A local bank account + bank guarantee (550,000 EUR) is needed.||Business plan
Certificates of games
|From 1 year||From 30,000 Euro|
First of all, you should contact the customer service of the casino. In order to apply to the licensing agency, the casino must not be able to solve your problem. If you cannot resolve your problem with the operator, it is possible to apply online to the respective agency. After this application, the agency will either direct you to a mediator or initiate an investigation within itself. Both the players and the licensee can sue in court against the results of the investigation.
Government organizations were put in place to protect the consumers like you and me. If you ever have a doubt whether a casino is legit or not, call the online Casino support & feedback. Take down notes on what they say and do your due diligence in researching if the company is duly registered and licensed. Play safely & be gamble aware.