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. Betcasinoscript has the fundamental details you need. One of the most vital components of planning an iGaming business is obtaining the appropriate gambling license. It is one of the first essential steps if you are serious about launching a legitimate and reputable online casino or sportsbook operation. At Betcasinoscript, we understand that the licensing process – from determining what license(s) you need for your specific business, how to apply for a gambling license, and understanding laws, taxes, and fees – can be daunting. Here, you’ll find the answers to the most common licensing questions as well as be provided with in-depth gambling license information about international and local regulators. This includes regulators such as the Malta Gaming Authority, Curacao eGaming, and the UK Gambling Commission, among others.
Gambling License OverviewIn our online gambling license analysis, you’ll learn about:
- Background information about the regulator
- The different types of licenses available
- How to apply for a gambling license
- The licensing application process
- Gambling license costs
- Key laws and regulations operators need to follow
- The regions the license covers
- The pros and cons associated with getting the license
What is a Gambling LicenseAn 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 JurisdictionsEvery 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 licensesAlthough 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 licenseAlso 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 licenseThis 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)
- 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?
Top Gambling JurisdictionsAs 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 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
How to License Your CasinoIf 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
Obtain a license on your ownAs 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
Consider consulting a lawyerAll 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 sublicenseCertain 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 casinoIf you want to completely sidestep the regulatory process, you can purchase a white label solution. Many of the gambling software providers Betcasinoscript 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.
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 LicenseHere 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.
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License Vs Unlicensed Sites – Do I Need a Gambling License?We’re going to be completely honest. Not all iGaming licenses are easy to acquire. Some have very complex bureaucratic application processes. Additionally, they are costly, with application fees, licensing fees and taxes eating into your budget and profit margins. Since this is the case, it is not uncommon for many new operators to debate whether its worthwhile for them to get an iGaming license. The reality is however, if your intention is to achieve long term success, the benefits of getting an online casino license far outweigh the drawbacks. Unlicensed operators can only go so far before they hit roadblocks that hinder their growth and profits.
Why do I need an online gambling license?In most jurisdictions where gambling is legal, a gambling license is required for any business that offers real money gambling activities to residents within these regions. Also, depending on the region, you may need a gambling license for a raffle as well. That said, gambling includes activities that involve betting on an outcome and games of chance, such as slots, poker, casino games (e.g. roulette, blackjack, etc.), live casino games, bingo, lottery, sports betting, eSports betting, fantasy games, and many other types of games of chance. There are a number of benefits to obtaining a remote (online) gambling license. Key benefits include:
- You can legally operate your business in prime jurisdictions. For instance, the UK is the largest remote gambling market in Europe, accounting for the largest portion of Europe’s online gambling market revenue. To legally operate in the United Kingdom, you require a local gambling license from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
- Reach international markets. For instance, a license from the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) can be used internationally and can help you target a range of markets around the world, particularly those where gambling is legal, but where there is no single regulator that governs the whole country, such as Canada.
- Partner with financial institutions. Build solid relationships and negotiate terms with some of the most trusted payment providers like local and international banks, PayPal, Neteller, Skrill, Trustly, etc.
- Partner with top gaming suppliers. This includes highly respected companies that have won awards and are recognized throughout the industry for their innovation and premium products, such as NetEnt, Microgaming, Play’n GO, IGT, WMS, Playtech, Pragmatic Play, etc. You can also take advantage of lucrative advertising campaigns created by these popular and respected game software providers, which can be an asset for helping with player retention marketing strategies.
- Legal advertising – Licensed operators are permitted to advertise their platforms in accordance with the regulations put into place by the jurisdictions where they operate. Even if these regulations are strict, it’s still better to be able to advertise for the sake of your player acquisition and retention strategies than not to be able to advertise at all.
- Get your app approved for official stores. You can list your casino or sportsbook app on Google Play or in the App Store. Players are more likely to trust an app they can easily download via an official channel over an unknown source.
- Gain credibility and authenticity for your business. iGaming operations that are licensed are trusted by both players and businesses. You are far more likely to enjoy lucrative opportunities, as partnerships with top software, hardware, and other service providers are easier to come by.
- Fiscal benefits. Some offshore licensing jurisdictions have zero or low tax rates, allowing you to enjoy fiscal benefits. You can also open a settlement account in an array of jurisdictions.
What happens if I don’t have a license?
Online gambling is highly regulated, not only to ensure that governments and authorities get their piece of the revenue pie but, more importantly, for the purpose of protecting players and operators from various forms of criminal activity (e.g. fraud, money laundering, bonus abuse, etc.) and gambling-related harm (e.g. protection of minors, aiding in the prevention of problem gambling, etc.). Not licensing your company with at least one jurisdiction puts your operation and your reputation at huge risk. It can even have a negative impact on the industry as a whole. More to the point, not having a license can lead to many disadvantages, such as:
- Limited player reach. You will not be able to legally operate in many parts of the world, including some of the most lucrative iGaming markets in the world, particularly those in Europe.
- Most banks and financial institutions will refuse to work with you. Banks see licenses as a guarantee that their institution will not be used for money laundering or other criminal activity. One of the reasons is that licensing authorities typically carry out background checks to ensure that those who apply for licenses have no criminal record.
- Difficulties partnering with reputable companies. Top software companies and gaming suppliers are not as keen to offer their products and services to businesses that are not licensed. They don’t want to take the risk of having their brand associated with companies who may engage in unethical practices.
- Lack of trust from players and the industry. Players trust companies that are licensed, because a license from a legitimate industry regulator means that the iGaming operator is following strict rules pertaining to data security, fair gaming, and socially responsible gambling. Without a license, there is no guarantee that where they are playing is safe.
- Being blacklisted. Without a license, your site is at risk of being blacklisted by reputable review sites, organizations and regulators. A bad reputation could even lead to you being unable to acquire an online gambling license in the future.
- Risk of penalties and/or being shut down. Attempting to operate in a specific region and not adhering to that jurisdiction’s particular licensing requirements can have devastating consequences, including being blacklisted, heavy fines, facing criminal proceedings (which could include jail time), and having your business shut down.
License, regulation, compliance – Is there a difference?The terms gambling license, gambling regulation, and gambling compliance fall under the same umbrella, but are different terms that should not be used interchangeably. Here’s a basic definition for each term to help you recognize the difference.
- Gambling license – Is permission issued by a dedicated gambling committee that provides valid proof that your business is legitimate and winning payouts are guaranteed.
- Gambling regulation – Is a set of rules that identify acceptable and unacceptable activities on the part of individuals, firms, or government departments and agencies. They are the laws you are expected to follow.
- Gambling compliance – The act of conforming with regulatory requirements, such as rules, standards, laws, etc.
How Do I Get an Online Gambling License?There’s no question that getting a gambling license is vital for long-term success in the iGaming industry. That said, you likely still have many questions regarding the licensing process, costs, and wondering which gambling regulator is the best one to choose. The following explores the most common questions new operators have about applying for an Internet gambling license.
What’s involved in the online gambling application process?First and foremost, you should know that each online gambling application process – from the requirements and fees, to the time it takes to complete the process – is different. The rules that apply to attaining a UK gambling license, for instance, differ from what applies to obtaining a Curacao gambling license. As this is the case, always check the requirements of a specific jurisdiction before applying. Never assume. While we will go over the application process in detail for each jurisdiction in their individual reviews, generally speaking, among the most common application requirements are:
- Proof of identity
- Background check of the applicant and key members of the operation
- Proof of sufficient funds
- Business plan
- Software checks (certain standards are often enforced that the platform software must adhere to)
- Compliance checks
- Incorporation within the jurisdiction of the license authority
- Server location (usually it must be located within the jurisdiction of the license authority)
Am I guaranteed a license?No. Simply because you apply for a license does not mean that you will get one, even after going through the application process. All it takes is one mistake on an application form to ruin the whole process and land you back at square one. Furthermore, be advised that in many cases the fee for applying for a license is non-refundable. For instance, it costs £370 to apply for an online gambling license in the UK. This fee will not be refunded if you choose to withdraw from the application process or your application is unsuccessful. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you seek the appropriate and most up-to-date jurisdictional advice from lawyers and legal experts who specialize in online gambling licensing in the specific region you’re targeting. Doing so helps to ensure you do not waste valuable time or money.
How much does a gambling license cost?Gambling license cost varies from one jurisdiction to the next, with different types of fees and taxes playing a role in the overall cost. That said, one thing that can be said for all of them, no online gambling license is cheap. Expect the license to be one of your highest business expenses. With that said, here’s a basic look at online gambling license costs to give you a general idea of the level of expense you could face: Using Maltas’s €36,000 10-year license (type 1, 2 or 3 B2C license) as an example, the cost of this MGA license is broken down as follows:
Remember, keep in mind that license fees and costs vary depending on several factors (e.g. application fees, renewal fees, annual fees, taxes, type of license you apply for, etc.) and these fees can change. The above is meant for general information purposes only and does not include all potential fees, such as renewal fees. Its purpose is to give you an overall idea of initial costs and how they can differ from one jurisdiction to the next. For a more accurate in-depth look at a specific jurisdiction’s gambling license cost, please select the appropriate review.
How do I choose the right jurisdiction?There are several factors to consider when you want to get a gambling license from a gaming control board. Here are some of the things to keep in mind when selecting a jurisdiction:
- What type of gambling operation do you intend to run – Will you be running a casino, sports betting, fantasy sports, bingo, poker, lotto, etc., business?
- Who is your primary market – Do you need a local license for this region?
- Application eligibility and time – How long does the application process take and can you meet all the requirements to even be considered?
- Licensing costs – What is the total cost – application fee, license fee, renewal fee, taxes, other fees, etc.?
- Your industry experience – Are you starting your first iGaming operation or are you familiar with the industry and are seeking to grow your target market?
- How many licenses do you need – Are you planning on targeting one local region or do you want to reach players from all over the world?
- Licensing requirements for partners – What regulatory compliance do the companies you’re working with (e.g. software, games, etc.) require?
Is one jurisdiction better than another?Not necessarily. Just like everything in life, there are pros and cons associated with each gaming control board. No single one is perfect. For instance, although Curacao offers the advantage of lower costs and a single license that covers all gambling activities, Malta’s more expensive license is better for operators who seek to enter the European gambling market. Ultimately, you need to select a jurisdiction that can meet all your business needs as well as know the limits of the license you choose.
Will one online gambling license cover all markets?No. There is no one-size-fits-all license. Every license has limits in regard to the region(s) it covers. For instance, if you obtain a license from Curacao eGaming, this doesn’t open the door to your site for players in the UK. You will need a Gambling Commission license in order to legally advertise to and provide your betting services to residents in Great Britain. Essentially, most gaming control boards do not cover the USA and any areas where a local gambling license is required (e.g. the UK, Sweden, Italy, etc.). They also will not serve any regions where the regulator deems online gambling to be illegal.
How can Betcasinoscript help me get an online gambling license?Betcasinoscript is dedicated to helping industry newcomers and established operators achieve their iGaming business goals. You can benefit from our knowledge and experience in the industry, coupled with the partnerships we’ve forged with some of the top online gambling software companies. In regard to gambling licensing, we can help you:
- Find a white label solution – Although there is no “easy” way to obtain a license, one of the simper ways is to opt for a white label casino or sportsbook platform offered by some of the online gambling software solution companies we review. A white label solution is a low-cost and ready-to-launch platform that includes everything you need to operate an online casino or online sportsbook, including a license. The way it works is you operate with a sublicense. This is a license that is supplied to you by the B2B company that provides you with the white label solution. They are the official licensee, having acquired the license from the regulator, and extend some rights and privileges of owning this license to you. In short, the white label provider is responsible for the license and has taken care of all the grunt work for you.
- Find a turnkey solution – A turnkey solution provides you with the convenience of a ready-for-service platform and the freedom to customize your business. Unlike a white label, everything is not included. You get to choose your products and services. You also will need to obtain a license. That said, many turnkey operators have experience obtaining licenses from various jurisdictions and can help you obtain a license, including providing you assistance with the application process.
- Get the information you need – Our gambling license information provide you with an in-depth look at the different jurisdictions. They also include the names of software providers who have experience in these jurisdictions and who may be of service to you.