A definitive explanation of online casino licensing
You might have seen gambling licences mentioned on casino sites and heard that they’re essential. What isn’t always clear is how operators get them, who awards them and what they actually mean for players.
We’re here to set the record straight on gambling authorities and their acronyms. Read on to find out more about these essential points and how to choose a safe online casino.
Gambling Licences: Why Are They Important?
Looking for casinos with gambling licences is vital because it shows that an independent authority has approved the site. When a licence is awarded, you know that the casino is a legitimate business that will pay out your winnings.
Licensing bodies also regulate casinos, which means players are protected from misleading or harmful practices.
What Are Gambling Authorities and How Do They Operate?
Gambling authorities, or commissions, come in different forms, with some being stricter than others. Their job is to process and review licence applications and set standards for the casinos to ensure that they operate legally.
Some licences are international, while others are recognised in specific countries or jurisdictions. Our site only features licensed casinos.
Gambling Licences Worldwide
Online gambling licences apply in different jurisdictions across the world. Some countries need a specific licence, whereas others accept an international one. We’ve set out a list of the largest and most common licensing authorities below.
- Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)
- Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner
- Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)
- United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC)
- Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission
- Curacao eGaming
- Kahnawake Gaming Commission
- Alderney Gambling Control Commission
How To Get A Gambling Licence
The best online gambling licences have detailed application procedures. Casinos have to submit documents to prove that they meet the organisation’s licensing criteria. They also have to pay a fee to obtain a licence.
Licensing Criteria For Casinos
Licensing criteria vary depending on the authority. However, the major bodies, such as the MGA and UKGC, have similar criteria, which are thorough and to a high standard. You can see the common requirements below.
Before a casino is granted a licence, it must demonstrate that it’s a financially stable organisation. Being able to pay the fee is the first step, but submitting accounts and profit projections also plays a role. This requirement is key to showing that an operator can afford to pay players their winnings.
Industry Experience and Business Acumen
Operators need to provide business plans and financial forecasts to show that they know how to run a successful casino. Licensing bodies expect all aspects, including staffing, game providers, technical details and customer support, to be well-planned.
Successful management means a better player experience and that the casino will still be around to pay out winnings.
No Criminal Activity
Authorities complete background checks to protect players and prevent fraud, criminal fronts, and money laundering. Any sign of illegal activity can lead to a denied application.
Data and Customer Protection
Gambling commissions want to see that casinos have the appropriate security in place. This includes encryption measures to protect financial transactions and the correct procedures for handling and storing customer data.
Fair Terms and Conditions
Part of the application will include reviewing terms and conditions. The casino site should set out everything that the player needs to know about playing at the casino without being misleading.
Fair Bonuses and Terms
Authorities want to see that the casino will offer rewards that fit with responsible gambling principles. They also expect the offers to be explained in a straightforward way, accessible to claim, and that the rules and conditions are clearly set out.
Marketing of bonuses must be done according to local consumer protection laws and not aimed at minors.
Responsible Gambling Information
Casinos must not produce content that appeals to minors and must verify a player’s identity and date of birth to ensure it’s legal for them to play. They should also make responsible gambling information readily available, including support links, self-exclusion options and other tools for players.
For authorities with high standards, the application is just the beginning. Once a licence is granted, the casino’s site needs to be reviewed to confirm that the live operation meets the previously agreed requirements.
Since some licences can last for five to 10 years, authorities also require casinos to work with independent auditing services, such as eCOGRA and GLI. Compliance audits usually occur after a year and at random intervals to ensure that standards are still being met, including game fairness. Failure to comply can lead to fines or a revoked licence.
Online casinos are required to display their licence details, including a statement, number and a link. It helps players quickly check whether a site has a licence or not.
Do Casinos Operate Without A Licence?
Yes, some casinos do operate without a licence, though, in strict jurisdictions, the site will be blocked. It’s not easy, as many payment providers and software developers won’t work with unlicensed operations. However, some sites don’t renew their licence but keep operating.
What Are Blacklisted Casinos?
Blacklisted casinos are usually sites that don’t have licences. The list of operators to avoid can also include casinos that don’t meet the expected standards and have demonstrated irregular practices.
Examples of bad behaviour could be not paying winnings, unnecessarily delayed payments, and unsettled customer disputes.
Safety Is Paramount
You can’t put a price on your peace of mind when playing online. Gambling licences are essential so that you can feel confident that the casino will still be around to pay you your winnings.
There are casinos out there operating without a licence, although you won’t see them featured here. Plus, you can check the blacklist to find out who to avoid.
The best online gambling licences also care of data protection, fair gaming and reasonable terms and conditions. Casinos with licences from the MGA or UKGC are the ones that meet the highest standards.
How do I know if a casino is licensed?
If a casino is featured on our site, it’s licensed. You can double-check for yourself by visiting the casino website and checking the footer. It should have the full authority’s name and licence number, and there’s usually a verification link.
How long does a licence last?
It depends on the issuing body and the stage of application. Some only last one year, which is why it’s crucial to check it’s still active. There are also temporary licences that are subject to system reviews and compliance audits. It’s common for a licence to last five years, although some casinos can be granted a 10-year licence.
Can a casino lose its licence?
Yes, gambling authorities have the power to revoke a licence if a casino doesn’t meet the required standards. In many cases, a fine is charged for non-compliance once an issue is rectified.
My country doesn’t have a gambling commission; what should I look for?
Always look for a licence, even if there isn’t one for your country. Some gambling authority licences are recognised elsewhere. Many jurisdictions that don’t have their own commission will allow a licensed casino to operate there.
Are some licences better than others?
Yes, some licences are easily obtained for a fee, whereas others require detailed applications and compliance checks. The more thorough a licensing body is, the better.
A licence is a good starting point to check safety, but it isn’t the only sign for determining whether a casino is right for you.
How do I choose a safe casino?
Picking from our list of recommended operators is your first positive step towards choosing a safe casino. Check the licence in the casino’s website footer and visit the authority’s site to ensure it’s still active.
After that, a quick look at the security policy, terms and conditions and payment providers can help you find the best site for you.