Gambling sites, such as online casinos, betting sites and poker rooms, are relatively new as an industry. The ‘official birth of the iGaming industry’ was in 1994 when Antigua and Barbuda was the first country to pass a law which made it possible for operators to apply for a casino licence.
The first gambling sites looked like they were programmed by hobbyists. But by the millennium they already generated €1,8 billion in revenue. Hard to believe as some 85 countries have now legalized online gambling.
iGaming in the EU
According to the EGBA, online gambling had a 20.7% share of the total EU gambling market activity in 2017.
The online share of the gambling market is expected to grow to 24.9% in 2020. In 2017, over 12 million Europeans had an active online account with EGBA member companies, equivalent to 2.4% of Europe’s total population. The economic size (or gross profit) of the EU online sector is expected to rise from €19.6 billion in 2017 to €24.7 billion in 2020.
Online gambling is mentioned as the fastest growing activity in the gambling sector in the EU. The industry involves over 12 million consumers currently participating in online gambling.
Providing many millions of players an online gambling experience from within the comfort of their homes have been proven to be immensely popular and lucrative. Though the rapid expansion of online gambling in the past 20 years sought a way to standardize and regulate online gambling to ensure that players are protected whilst gambling online.
Online gambling in Europe is considered an economic activity that falls under the free movement of services and establishment. There is no specific EU legislation available within the online gambling industry. This leads to online gambling being regulated separately by the Member States. However, a number of regulatory frameworks within the EU are available to tackle problems like corruption and money laundering.
Online gambling licenses are issued by a number of governments including Malta, Gibraltar, and Alderney, and the UK. This while Curaçao is often mentioned as one of the ‘iGaming hubs’ as well. This jurisdiction is providing online gambling licenses since 1996.
None of the iGaming companies based in the European Union is operating without a license. Operators granted a casino license removed any legal, reputational or bureaucratic barriers that would have been in the way running a gambling website.
Quite some Member States regulated online gambling, although some in a more liberal way than another. EU member states that regulated online gambling are usually using a licensing system for more than one operator. This type of regulation often makes an end to monopolistic regimes.
Online gambling licensing
Obtaining an online gambling license is a complex process and involves research and certification. Yet, there’s no way around getting one if you want to be taken seriously. Not only by future players, but also by banks, payment systems, and software suppliers. All legal online gambling businesses do possess an online gambling license in at least one of the iGaming jurisdictions. This can be in the EU or in any other jurisdiction elsewhere in the world. The most recognized jurisdictions in Europe at the moment are Malta, Alderney, and Gibraltar. With the new gambling bill approved in the UK, operators targeting UK players must have a UK license, awarded by the UK Gambling Commission.
Most common iGaming jurisdictions
The iGaming industry is one of the most dynamic industries. An online casino can’t operate without a casino license. Online casinos can apply for a casino license at the following iGaming jurisdictions:
Malta began licensing online gambling sites in 2000, under the Public Lotto Ordinance. The revamped Remote Gaming Regulations were published in April 2014, just one month before the island became an EU member state. From that moment, Malta was the first EU member state to regulate online gambling. By now Malta is one of the world’s largest and most respected iGaming jurisdictions with over 500 licensees in possession of a Class 1-4 license granted by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). Read more about the Malta casino license, click here.
The first casino opened in 1961 by gaming magnate George Alfred James. The Gaming Act of 1968 paved the way for more casinos. The next major legislative overhaul came in 2005. The Gambling Act 2005 addressed online gambling and all hoping to access the UK market must obtain a license from the UK Gambling Commission. Read more about the UK casino license, click here.
Alderney, one of UK’s white-listed remote gambling jurisdictions, is well-known for its iGaming industry. The Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) established in May 2000. This as part of the Gambling (Alderney) Law, 1999. The commission’s task is to regulate online gambling operations in Alderney. By now Alderney has been regulating online gambling for almost 15 years. During this period, the jurisdiction adopted a conservative approach. This deliberately resulted in slow growth as the AGCC was very keen to get it right rather than see it as a race for the line. Read more about the Alderney casino license, click here.
Over the years, Gibraltar has developed into an iGaming centre relying on its EU membership. Gibraltar is attracting major international licensees like Bwin.Party, Ladbrokes, and Betfair. It’s therefore that this jurisdiction can be seen as one of the most successful ones. The main piece of gambling legislation in Gibraltar is the Gambling Act 2005. This law was last amended by the Gambling Act 2011 which is regulating both land-based casinos and online operators. Read more about the Gibraltar casino license, click here.
Although all the above iGaming jurisdictions are in Europe, Curacao can’t be ignored. It’s one of the first iGaming jurisdictions to regulate online gambling as licenses have been granted since 1996. Therefore, over 200 iGaming companies operate from this Caribbean jurisdiction. It’s therefore that online gambling is one of the largest industries on the island. Read more about the Curacao casino license, click here.