In order to offer a legal service, each and every online casino must be licensed from an official agency. You can think of these licenses as “legal permits to offer online gambling” – they are mandatory, and you should never play on unlicensed (rogue) casino sites. The thing is, there are lots of agencies that can issue this license, and some of them are more reputable than others.
In other words, online casino licenses are not equal: some are truly prestigious and very hard to get, and some of them are very easy to get. In this article, we will talk about the “hard to get” ones: the most famous, reputable, and reliable online casino licenses in the world. If you want to play new online slot games, the casino of your choice must have one of these licenses.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC for short) was established in 2007. It is responsible for regulating all kinds of gambling activities (both online and offline) in the United Kingdom. This includes lotteries and sports betting too, not only casinos. UKGC was established under the Gambling Act 2005, and it had two purposes- keeping the crime out of gambling and protecting the vulnerable players.
If you want to accept UK players to your casino and want them to play classic casino slots, for example, you must get a license from UKGC. Only after that, you will be allowed to accept UK citizens.
Getting a license from UKGC is a very hard job. The applicant must really have a perfect background. Even an unpaid parking ticket can prevent you from getting it. All applicants go through a very detailed background check, the whole process can take up to 6 months. And it costs thousands of pounds. Even the application fee is nearly 15.000 GBP.
In exchange, the applicants get the most famous, reputable, and reliable electronic gaming license in the world. UKGC keeps monitoring and regulating the casino sites after issuing a license too. The applicants must comply with the high safety, security, and fairness standards of the agency. And if you think that UKGC does nothing important, think again: it keeps issuing fines to all the famous gambling brands out there. Here are some examples:
- UKGC fined William Hill 6.2 million GBP because it did not take the necessary steps to prevent money laundering (February 2018).
- UKGC fined Leo Vegas 600.000 GBP for producing misleading adverts (May 2018).
- UKGC fined 32Red 2 million GBP for not preventing a problem gamer (June 2018).
- UKGC fined Ladbrokes Coral 5.9 million GBP for not taking the necessary steps to prevent money laundering (July 2019).
In short, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission is the most famous licensing agency in the world, and it issues the most reliable licenses. Well, also the priciest ones, but that is expected.
Malta Gaming Authority
Malta is a small island country in the Mediterranean Sea, and it is a part of the European Union. It has pretty loose taxing laws, which can be summarized as “offshore heaven”. For this reason, it is home to lots of gambling operators. This license is issued by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), and it is considered the “second-best” license in the iGaming industry.
Getting an MGA license is not as hard as the UKGC’s, but it is also not that easy. MGA is older than UKGC (it was established in 2001) and more experienced when it comes to issuing licenses. The goal of the agency is the same: regulating gambling, protecting vulnerable players, and keeping the crime out of gambling. The cost of the license can be as high as 600.000 EUR (as a yearly fee), and the gaming tax is only 5%.
However, this tax is applied only to gaming revenue generated from Malta-based players. If the revenue comes from other players in the world, there is no tax at all – this is why the MGA license is quite popular among operators.
Curacao is another small island country in the Caribbean Sea, and it has a unique feature: this small country has issued the world’s first online casino license, back in 1996. When the first online casino of the world (InterCasino) launched, Curacao was the only country that accepted giving it a license, which made InterCasino a legal business.
This continues today: Curacao keeps giving electronic gaming licenses for quite fair prices. Getting a master Curacao license costs around 35.000 EUR, and the monthly fee is as lows as 6.000 EUR for the first two years.
Depending on the local agency you use for the application, these prices can be slightly different. In any case, the overall costs won’t be that high: Curacao offers “price/performance” when it comes to online casino licensing.