To legally be able to provide online casino services and market gambling products to consumers, you need a legitimate gambling license. This license may be provided to you by an iGaming software provider if you choose a white label solution, otherwise, you are required to obtain this license on your own directly from an online gambling authority. If you’re curious to learn more about the industry’s top regulators and general online casino license information, you’ve come to the right place. Top Casino Solutions has the fundamental details you need.
Best companies offering license with their white label solutions
What is a Gambling License
An online gambling license, also known as a remote gaming license, is a certificate of authority that is issued by one of the world’s many licensing regulators. This license is required by any iGaming company that offers any gambling activity, such as slots, casino games, lotto, poker, sports betting and other games of chance or those that involve wagering.
A valid license serves as proof that the gambling business is adhering to legitimate, secure, fair and responsible gaming practices as required by the regulating authority that issued the license. That said, the requirements of a gambling license vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The special gambling committees of the regions that offer these licenses have their own rules and laws.
This means that requiring a license from one authority does not mean that you meet the legal gambling operation requirements for all jurisdictions. In other words, depending on where you wish to operate your business, you may require more than one license.
Why do you need a license?
A gambling license is necessary if you want to operate legally within a certain region without complications. It speaks to your business’ integrity and commitment to a fair gaming policy. Online casinos that are licensed regularly have their Random Number Generator (RNG) software audited to ensure that games are operating optimally and the Return to Player (RTP) is fair. A compliance certificate is provided based on the results of the examination.
It is not uncommon for players who visit casino sites to first investigate where a casino is licensed before they choose to sign up.
A casino license is also an indication of an operator’s transparency and security of the gaming software that they offer.
Additionally, you need a license if you wish to provide your players with traditional and popular payment methods, such as credit card, debit card and bank transfer. To offer these payments, you will need to set up a merchant account in a bank. Banks are extremely careful when it comes to partnering with businesses and are far more likely to cooperate with a company that is acknowledged by a regulatory body of a specific jurisdiction.
More to the point, some of the reasons why you need a license is to:
- Use casino gaming content from reputable and white-market suppliers
- Open a bank and merchant account
- Partner with electronic payment system providers
- Employ more effective marketing strategies, which can lead to better player conversion
- Give your reputation a boost in the eyes of players, increasing player trust and loyalty
Different Licenses for Different Jurisdictions
Every regulated iGaming jurisdiction has its own regulatory body. These authorities regulate the gambling industry within their designated region and have the power to grant or deny licenses. Although the names of each gambling authority may be different (e.g. gambling commission, gaming authority, etc.), the general term for these regulators is Gaming Control Board.
Obtaining a gaming license begins with making the most important decision: choosing the gambling jurisdiction where you want to operate your online casino business. There a number of regulators, with the primary differences being:
- The requirements to which the casino operator and software must adhere
- The time it takes to process applications
- The cost of the license
The two main types of gambling licenses
Although there are different remote gaming licenses available, the two main types of licenses in the online gambling industry are: International Gambling Licenses and Local Gambling Licenses.
International gambling license
Also known as an offshore gambling license, this type of a license is better suited to iGaming businesses that plan to target a range of markets, including unregulated markets.
Examples of international gambling jurisdictions include:
- Malta – Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)
- Curaçao – Curaçao eGaming
- The Isle of Man – Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC)
- Kahnawake – Kahnawake Gaming Commission
- Gibraltar – The Licensing Authority of the HM Government
- Alderney – Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC)
- Antigua and Barbuda – Directorate of Offshore Gaming
- Montenegro – Games of Chance Administration
Local gambling license
This is an internal or country-specific gambling license, which allows an iGaming operation to legally function within the borders of only one specific country. In many cases, local regulators require that in addition to the casino holding the appropriate license, the gambling software provider(s) it uses must be licensed with the regulator as well.
Examples of internally regulated gambling markets include:
- The United Kingdom – The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC)
- Belgium – Belgian Gaming Commission
- Spain – Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ)
- Bulgaria – The State Commission for Gambling
- Romania – Romanian National Gambling Office (ONJN)
- Sweden – Swedish Gambling Authority (Spelinspektionen)
- Denmark – Danish Gambling Authority (Spillemyndigheden)
- Italy – Angenzia Delle Dogane E Dei Monopoli (AAMS)
No matter the type of license you think will be best suited for your gambling operation, important factors to consider when choosing a jurisdiction include:
- Target market – Where do the customers you primarily want to target live?*
- Reputation – What overall reputation does the regulator have in the industry among businesses and players?
- Licencing requirements – What do you need in order to be eligible for a license?
- Application process – How complex and long is the procedure?
- Total costs – What are the initial costs, annual costs, taxes, and other potential fees?
*Helpful hint: As a new online casino it is better to start by focusing your player targeting efforts on fewer markets than attempting to market your brand globally. Competing against a handful of other brands to beat their advertising offers in select regions is easier than attempting to compete globally against thousands of competitors, including the industry’s biggest names. Start small and expand your market reach as you grow.
Top Gambling Jurisdictions
As we’ve previously mentioned, there are multiple gaming control boards across the globe. However, to give you a better idea of the regulators that exist, the following is a brief look at a few of the most well-known and popular international regulating bodies in the iGaming industry.
Curaçao eGaming is the primary jurisdiction certified for issuing online gambling licenses, while the Curaçao Gaming Control Board controls the regulation of land-based casino operations. Curaçao eGaming offers a wide range of licensing and certification capabilities and has been around since 1996.
Obtaining a Curaçao license is considered to be one of the best options for starting an online casino because this regulator is very flexible in terms of timeframe and cost (total cost varies on a variety of factors as well as on the master license holder who issues the license – there are a total of 4 master license holders). It has an appealing tax system and allows for operation in multiple jurisdictions as well as supports crypto payments. Additionally, only one license is required, which covers all forms of gaming.
Curaçao eGaming online gambling license facts:
- Date started issuing licenses: 1996
- Number of licenses types: 1 (Sub-License)
- Average cost: €20,000 – €25,000+**
- Tax: 2% tax on net gains
- Average time it takes to obtain a license: 6 weeks
- License validity period : 5 years
The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) regulates the gambling industry in Malta. It was the first county in the EU to introduce regulations related to remote gambling and to issues licenses for online gambling activities. It is one of the industry’s most respected and well-known online gambling regulators in the world.
There are four types of licenses offered by the MGA, including B2B and B2C licenses. Not only does gaining a Maltese license give you access to players in multiple jurisdictions, including unregulated markets, but it also gives you access to many banks around the world where it is possible to open a merchant account for processing bank cards.
Malta Gaming Authority online gambling license facts:
- Date started issuing licenses: 2004
- Number of licenses types: 4 (B2B and B2C)
- Average cost: €36,000
- Tax: 5% tax on revenue from Maltese players
- Average time it takes to obtain a license: 12 – 16 weeks
- License validity period: 10 years
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) is located in Canada, but it is not the nation’s regulatory body. In fact, Canada is an unregulated gambling jurisdiction. Gambling laws within the country are controlled by the governments of its individual provinces and territories.
Since 1999, the KGC has been providing online gaming licenses, making it one of the first jurisdictions for iGaming in the world. To be licensed by the KGC, an online gaming operator must be hosted at Mohawk Internet Technologies, which is a data center that resides within Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake in Quebec, and managed by Continent 8 Technologies.
Kahnawake Gaming Commission online gambling license facts:
- Date started issuing licenses: 1999
- Number of licenses & permit types: 6
- Average cost: $61,000+**
- Tax: 0% tax
- Average time it takes to obtain a license: 4 – 8 weeks
- License validity period: 5 years
Although Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, it has its own gambling laws and its own regulatory body. Therefore, it does not fall under the laws of the UK Gambling Commission. The Licensing Authority of the HM Government of Gibraltar issues online gambling licenses based on the Gambling Act 2005.
To obtain a license, online casino operators must prove their financial solvency, deliver a business plan and be prepared to perform monetary transactions (e.g. player credit card data processing and the payouts of winnings) exclusively through Gibraltar’s banks.
Gibraltar online gambling license facts:
- Date started issuing licenses: 1998
- Number of license types: 4 (B2B and B2C)
- Average cost: £100,000 (B2C licenses) £85,000 (B2B license)**
- Tax: 1% tax
- Average time it takes to obtain a license: 3 – 6 months
- License validity period: 5 years
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man is an island located between England and Ireland and is a British Crown Dependency. That said, like Gibraltar, it is not governed by British law and it has its own gambling regulatory body, the Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC). The GSC was first established in 1962, but did not begin offering online gambling licenses until it issued the Online Gambling Regulation Act in 2001.
Isle of Man licenses cover all forms of gambling and include both B2B and B2C licenses. There are four types of licenses available, and a company selects the type based on its goals and business requirements.
Isle of Man GSC online gambling license facts:
- Date started issuing licenses: 2001
- Number of license types: 4 (B2B and B2C)
- Average cost: £35,000+**
- Tax: 0.1% – 1.5% tax of GGY (Gross Gambling Yield)
- Average time it takes to obtain a license: 12 – 16 weeks
- License validity period: 5 years
**Note: Keep in mind that the details regarding license costs are meant for general information purposes only. License costs may vary depending on several factors, such as requiring separate licenses for each form of gaming (e.g. casino, poker, sports betting, etc.), application, renewal and annual fees. Additionally, licenses may be subject to other fees.
How to License Your Casino
If you’re wondering how to get gaming license, you’ll find that there are different methods. However, ultimately, you have three options:
- Obtain a license on your own
- Obtain a sublicense
- Choose a white label casino
Here’s a closer look at each.
Obtain a license on your own
As previously mentioned, every jurisdiction has its own laws and regulations. That said, in general, here’s what you can expect when you are seeking to get a gambling license.
- You will need to meet certain standards of decent character, honesty and integrity.
- You will be required to provide detailed information regarding finances and your organization as well as information about your gambling establishment, its owners, partners and anyone else who may be associated with your business.
- You will need to give employment and criminal information on yourself and certain people within your organization.
- You will need to be prepared to adhere to specific regulations. Some of these may include (but are not necessarily limited to):
– Advertising guidelines
– Payout of prize money
– Gaming duty
– Customer privacy and data protection
– Codes of practice
– Accounts and audit
– Anti-money laundering requirements
– Testing requirements
– Self-exclusion and other responsible gambling measures
– Remote technical and operating standards
Whatever the requirements and standards may be, they must be met if you wish to obtain a license and hold on to it to conduct your gambling activities. The reason why the requirements are so strict is to discourage those who are only interested in applying for a license for criminal purposes or who may lack the financial stability or experience to sufficiently operate a gambling business.
Most authorities have their application forms available on their sites or you can obtain them by contacting their support.
Consider consulting a lawyer
All that said, keep in mind that if you are intending to independently acquire a license(s) from a legal authority, while you can obtain help and guidance from an experienced iGaming company, the easiest way to obtain a gambling license is to contact a lawyer from the country where you wish to operate.
A local lawyer who is qualified in this field can provide you with the necessary and most current information you require to get a license.
Obtain a sublicense
Certain jurisdictions allow sublicensing, such as Curaçao and Malta. If you choose to obtain a sublicense, you are purchasing the right to operate under a license owned by someone else to avoid up front costs and to share your partner’s costs. In many cases, you also end up using the license owner’s software since the vast majority of these deals are created by software companies that want other companies to use their platform.
Choose a white label casino
If you want to completely sidestep the regulatory process, you can purchase a white label solution. Many of the gambling software providers TCS reviews offer these solutions, which essentially come pre-licensed and ready-to-launch. The only aspect you’re typically in charge of is marketing your casino brand. The software company takes care of all the other operational requirements. If you’d like to learn more about this solution, you can read up on white label casinos here.
How Much Does a Gambling License Cost?
One of the first things you will no doubt notice when you start to look around for a license is that these certificates of authority do not come cheap. You can expect to pay hundreds of thousands to over a million dollars by the time the process is through.
The fees associated with obtaining a casino license typically include:
The cost associated with the application process – This size of this fee usually depends on who you are and the complexity of your business. You need to develop a business plan that addresses social responsibility, the safe holding of customer funds, anti-money laundering, due diligence costs on shareholders and directors, and certifying your technology and hosting provider. Each of these aspects costs money and contribute to the long application process.
The cost associated with the actual license – The price of the license is often a reflection of the authority’s government’s fiscal attitude and varies from one jurisdiction to the next. For instance, Gibraltar charges a minimum annual license fee of £85,000 on 1% revenue up to a maximum per year fee of £420,000. Meanwhile, the UK’s annual license fee is lower than Gibraltar’s, but because there is 15% tax on revenues, it doesn’t work out to be cheaper in the end.
The cost associated with compliance – Once you’ve paid for the application and the license, this doesn’t mean that the fees are done. On the contrary, you will need to pay for the license each year. Compliance costs include regularly reporting to the regulator, on-going certification of new games, inspection costs, and having your RNG software re-seeded and re-certified on a continual basis.
The bottom line is that you will need to have a lot of capital and just as much patience to obtain and maintain an online gambling license.
Tips for Acquiring an Online Gambling License
Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you obtain a casino gaming license:
- Choose a target market – Prior to picking a regulator to obtain a license, decide which players you would like to target and thoroughly research the corresponding markets. This will help you to determine which products and software providers are best suited to your operation, allowing you to then determine what type of license (international, local or both) you might need.
- Learn about the gambling jurisdiction(s) where you want to operate – Choose the region(s) that makes the most sense to your business goals, needs and possibilities. Take the time to investigate their rules, requirements, taxation policy, application processing time, costs, etc.
- Make sure the casino software you have selected meets the requirements of your chosen jurisdiction – Licensing authorities have a certain set of rules and requirements related to software that is used by a casino. For instance, in most cases, the licensing body will require the software you use to have the appropriate functionality to support a casino self-exclusion policy.
- You may require a locally registered company – The jurisdiction may require your casino to be run by a legal business local to the region.
- Prepare you personal documents ahead of time – To obtain a license you will require certain personal documents including a copy of your passport, proof of address, a bank reference letter, a certificate of no criminal record from the police, and so on.
- Ready gaming software documents – This includes preparing agreements with the software providers, the certificate of the RNG, detailed description of the functionality of the games and software, etc.
- Make sure the information on your website is transparent – It is a common practice among gambling jurisdictions to check that the information they require your casino to have is included on your site, such as terms and conditions, withdrawal policy, responsible gambling, self-exclusion policy, etc.
The more you understand about gambling licences, the better you will understand the process of obtaining and holding a license as well as finding the jurisdiction that is right for you.
Gambling License – Final Thoughts
Acquiring a casino license helps a gambling operator to work in compliance with regulations and laws. It can draw players in who are seeking complete transparency, fairness of the gambling process, and secure financial transactions. Licensing gives your operation integrity, builds you a place of respect in the industry and can lead to loyal players.
That said, securing an online casino license on your own takes effort and is a time consuming and costly process. The more you know and the more prepared you are, the smoother the process will be.
If you are looking for help obtaining a gambling license, you will find that TCS reviews a number of casino software providers that offer licensing consulting support with their turnkey casino solutions to help you choose the right gambling jurisdiction. This support can also include preparing the necessary documents, ensuring that the software meets all requirements and even facilitating communications between you and the licensing body.
That said, if you’d prefer to launch your online casino as quickly, easily and cheaply as possible, a white label solution is pre-licensed and ready-to-go. Discover the iGaming providers with the best white label casino solutions today.