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Casino Licenses

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. Antigua and Barbuda was the first country to pass an online casino law. This law made it possible for operators to apply for one or more casino licenses.

The first gambling sites looked like somebody developed it from a basement. Which was most probably the case. However, by the start of the millennium, they already generated €1,8 billion in revenue.

iGaming industry 2021

In 2021, some 32 countries allow online gambling only with the local license. 

Another 60 countries prohibit local operators from offering online casino games without a license. But their network allows foreign operators to offer their services, like this used to be the case in the Netherlands, for example.

An incredible number of 93 countries still prohibit online gambling websites with no option of offering a license.

2020 and 2021 did see a more liberal view of online gambling, with more and more countries giving in. It’s proven over and over again that it’s incredibly tough to stop locals from entering online casino sites. Therefore, the number of countries that are in the process of regulating online gambling sites grows.

Regulatory frameworks

Providing many millions of players an online gambling experience from within the comfort of their homes remains extremely popular and lucrative. The rapid expansion of online gambling in the past 20 years sought a way to standardize and regulate online gambling. Regulations are a must to protect players that gamble online just like players that gamble in land-based casinos.

Online gambling in Europe is an economic activity and falls under the free movement of services and establishments. There is no specific EU legislation available within the online gambling industry. Therefore, Member States regulate online gambling separately.

However, a number of regulatory frameworks within the EU are available to tackle problems like corruption and money laundering.

Online gambling licences are issued by a number of governments including Malta, Gibraltar, and Alderney, and the UK. This while you can see Curaçao as an ‘iGaming hub’ as well. This jurisdiction is providing online gambling licences since 1996.

iGaming jurisdictions

None of the iGaming companies based in the European Union is operating without a licence. Operators granted a casino licence removed any legal, reputational or bureaucratic barriers that would have been in the way of 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 usually use a licensing system for more than one operator. This type of regulation often makes an end to monopolistic regimes.

Online casino licenses

Obtaining an online gambling licence is a complex process and involves research and certification. Yet, there’s no way around getting one if you want the industry, players, banks, payment systems, and software suppliers to accept you as an online casino.

All legal online gambling businesses do possess an online gambling licence 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 licence, 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 licence. Online casinos can apply for a casino licence at the following iGaming jurisdictions:

Malta

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 licence, click here.

UK

The first casino opened its doors 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 licence, click here.

Alderney

Alderney, one of UK’s white-listed remote gambling jurisdictions, is well-known for its iGaming industry and granted numerous casino licenses. The Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) is around since May 2000. They are part of the Gambling (Alderney) Law from 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 licence, click here.

Gibraltar

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 licence, click here.

Curaçao

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 casino 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 licence, click here.