Online Gambling Licences and Jurisdictions

The online casino industry is filled to the brim with casinos vying for your attention. Every day a new online casino seems to pop up offering great rewards, lucrative promotions, and a fun playing experience.

For those who are new to the casino scene, it can be nothing short of overwhelming. Where should you begin? How do you possibly decide where to start playing? Will you be safe?

These are all normal questions. And while there are many factors to choosing a safe and worthy online casino, one of the most important factors is whether or not an online casino has a valid gambling licence.

If you never considered the licence held by any particular online casino you’ve visited, you aren’t alone. Many players are unsure as to what they’re looking for and what the difference is between different regulators.

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Do casinos really need to be licensed?

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The online casino industry is filled to the brim with casinos vying for your attention. Every day a new online casino seems to pop up offering great rewards, lucrative promotions, and a fun playing experience.

For those who are new to the casino scene, it can be nothing short of overwhelming. Where should you begin? How do you possibly decide where to start playing? Will you be safe?

These are all normal questions. And while there are many factors to choosing a safe and worthy online casino, one of the most important factors is whether or not an online casino has a valid gambling licence.

If you never considered the licence held by any particular online casino you’ve visited, you aren’t alone. Many players are unsure as to what they’re looking for and what the difference is between different regulators.

 

Do casinos really need to be licensed?

Keep reading and we’ll let you in on everything you need to know about this very important online casino feature. We’ll also answer questions you may have about gambling licences, regulators, and jurisdictions.

Without a doubt, we can answer this question with a resounding yes! Online gambling licences at casinos are so very important. More than just a tick box that needs to be fulfilled before they’re legal, having a licence generally means that you can trust the online casino you’re frequenting.

Without a gambling license, an online casino cannot be legal. It’s that simple. If you’re playing at an online casino that doesn’t display its licence in plain view, you could be playing illegally and, therefore, dangerously.

You may be wondering what makes an unlicensed casino so dangerous? If an online casino has no licence, they’re essentially lawless. Pirates out at sea with no one to answer to! And that means they can do as they please with your personal information and the money you deposit into your account without being accountable by any higher powers.

Another reason online gambling licences are so important is due to the fact that you cannot work with a bank, or create a merchant account, without one. Banks know that online casinos can be risky business but having a licence in hand means there’s automatically a level of trust that wasn’t there before.

 

Are there rules an online casino has to follow to be licensed?

More than just a piece of paper or a licence fee that has to be paid, there are certain requirements that must be met for an online casino to be legal. These requirements mean you can play with peace of mind!

  • The owners and managers of the casinos must undergo a “fit and proper person” test.
  • The casino must stick to a list of customers that are permitted and take note of those who are prohibited from gambling online – such as minors.
  • Regular testing of the random number generator used to keep casino games fair must be done.
  • Updated data on the RTP rate for each casino game must be recorded and be available.
  • Casinos must provide a telephone number, an email address, and/or offer online support for all customers.
  • It must be visible how long customers have been playing a particular casino game.
  • Players must have the ability to set deposit limits on their account.
  • There must be waiting periods on any limit increases.
  • All complaints about the casino should be handled quickly and fairly.

 

“How can I make sure that my casino is licensed?”

You’ve just discovered an online casino that you think may suit your playing needs perfectly, but how can you be sure that it's licensed? There are a few simple ways to discover whether or not the online casino you have your eye on is legal.

Look for the badge – Any licensed online casino will proudly display their licence badges. Visit the website and scroll to the bottom of the homepage. Most online casinos feature their licence badges in the footer of the site. Other safety seals such as the eCOGRA seal of approval should also be visible.

Ask customer support – A fully licensed and legal casino will never hide their status. Ask the customer support staff members via live chat or email about the licences they hold, and you should receive a clear and straightforward answer.

 Take a look at the available software – Reputable and well-known software providers such as NetEnt, Microgaming, Evolution Gaming, and Playtech will only team up with licensed online casinos. If you find their casino games available, there’s a good chance the casino you’re interested in is licensed.

Read reviews – Visiting forums and reading trustworthy casino reviews are a good way to discover everything you need to know about an online casino – including their licencing status. If there’s no licence mentioned, it may be safer to try your luck at a legal online casino instead.

 

What’s the difference between jurisdictions and gambling regulators?

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When dealing with online casinos and the industry as a whole, there are many different terms floating around for you to understand. Jurisdictions and regulators may be a couple of these that aren’t quite clear.

Gambling jurisdictions refers to the parts of the world where gambling is either regulated or has specific laws in place to allow licencing and regulating of gambling in its many different forms.

Gambling regulators are the organisations that have been established within these jurisdictions to enforce the laws that exist there. These regulators are the authorities on gambling within their jurisdictions and help protect you as you play.

It must be noted that certain gambling regulators are more trustworthy than others. While all regulators have a hand in making sure casinos in their area are legal, some choose to steer clear of keeping a firm hand on the industry, while others choose to side with casinos rather than players.
 

Jurisdictions and Regulators in alphabetical order
 

Take a look at the jurisdictions you need to know about and the regulators you’ll find there.

Alderney – One of the most respected gambling jurisdictions in the world, the Alderney Gaming Control Commission is the regulator in this area, and they keep a tight rein on their licence-holders with strict rules.

Antigua and Barbuda – One of the first regions in the world to embrace online gambling and casinos, Antigua Directorate of Offshore Gambling is a regulator that can be trusted. After fighting hard for their right to hand out licences on their terms, this region and its regulator take good care of players.

Belize – Another early adopter of online gambling, the regulator in this area is the Belize Computer Wagering License Board. First able to hand out licences in 1996, many changes have been made to this jurisdiction’s laws since that time.

Costa Rica – Not the safest of regions to place your bet, Costa Rica requires a licence to operate within the country as a company, but there are no specific gambling licences required. The lack of regulations makes this a jurisdiction to steer clear of.

Curacao – Online gambling is one of its main income sources and because of this, the Curacao e–Gaming Licensing Authority has very lenient rules in place for offshore casino operators. In fact, this regulator tends to side with casinos instead of the player, leaving you out in the cold if anything negative were to happen that you needed to be dealt with at a regulatory level.

Cyprus – If gambling sites want a licence in Cyprus, they must apply for one from the Ministry of Finance. The country now only allows fixed-odds sports betting and lottery games.

Gibraltar – One of the most trusted jurisdictions in the world, Gibraltar has developed a top-notch reputation for itself. While it may be small in size, Gibraltar plays host to many gambling countries and rules with an iron fist. This makes it a safe bet and is why it has a glowing reputation.

Isle of Man – Licences are issued by the Gambling Supervision Commission in the Isle of Man. This jurisdiction has a well-established reputation and has shown to be above board in every way possible.

Kahnawake – A Native American reserve in Canada, Kahnawake was actually one of the first jurisdictions to allow online gambling as we know it. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission works closely with other regulatory bodies to ensure their players are safe and secure.

Malta Another jurisdiction that is small in stature, but huge in reputation, Malta is trusted and respected. Any online casino that receives a licence from the Malta Gaming Authority is bound to be trustworthy.

New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement - Only operates in the New Jersey jurisdiction. The NJDGE can only grant an online gambling licence if the server to host the website is located within a land-based casino establishment. 

Panama – Formed in 2002, the Panama Gaming Control Board has a firm hand on all gambling that takes place in their jurisdiction. Both online and land-based casinos are controlled by this strict board.

United Kingdom - The UK Gambling commission is one of the strictest gambling regulators in the industry. Overseeing all gambling activities, this regulators protects consumers from malpractices, while also trying to inhibit young adults and children from picking up gambling. 

 

Are there other regulatory bodies?

The regulators mentioned above are not the only way for online casinos to be held to a high standard. Independent bodies exist that work closely with regulators to ensure that players are protected in every way possible.

In order to ensure that games are fair and payout via a random number generator, eCOGRA was created. Any online casino worth it's salt will regularly be tested by eCOGRA and will make adjustments to their library based on eCOGRA’s results.

If you’re a fan of sports betting, then you can rely on companies such as ESSA to make sure that you’re winning as you should! ESSA (or the European Sports Security Association) monitors betting patterns and behaviours to test for suspicious activity.

Above all else, responsible gambling is one of the biggest movements in recent years among online casinos and their regulators. Thanks to organisations such as GamCare and GambeAware are expected to provide responsible gambling options for players. If these rules are ignored, serious consequences could take place.