Apart from the challenge of choosing a software provider, the other no-less-important aspect to address when launching an online casino is licensing. An online gambling license is a must-have to operate your casino legally in your target markets. What’s more, reputable game developers and payment service providers will only work with licensed gaming websites. Finally, a licensed online casino is much better perceived by players, all of whom naturally want to make bets at a safe and credible place.
Types of gambling licenses
There are two kinds of licenses that can be distinguished in online gambling: international, also known as offshore gambling licenses, and internal, or country-specific gambling licenses. International gambling licenses fit projects aiming at larger market coverage, while internal licenses allow an online casino to legally function within the borders of one specific country.
Among internally regulated gambling markets are the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Portugal, Mexico and others. It is not rare for national regulators to require that not only the casino hold the respective internal license, but also the gambling software provider.
There are quite a few international gambling jurisdictions, too. When choosing a jurisdiction, the main factors to consider are reputation, licensing requirements, complexity and duration of the application procedure, initial and annual costs, taxes applied. Below is a brief overview of the most frequently chosen international gambling jurisdictions and conditions they offer.
Popular iGaming jurisdictions
Malta is known as a highly reputable EU gaming jurisdiction and is immensely popular with Europe-facing online gambling and betting operators. The application fee is €2,330 and then a license fee of €8,500 is paid per annum. The gaming taxes are €4,660 per month for the first 6 months after the ‘go live’ date, and €7,000 per month thereafter. However, it’s important to keep in mind there are substantial legal expenses around the whole application procedure.
Application for a Maltese license is a complicated and long process. All applicants must prove good reputation and provide a detailed business plan to demonstrate understanding of the business. A copy of audited accounts and personal profiles of shareholders should also be provided. The software platform behind the online casino must be rigorously audited by the Malta Gaming Authority for compliance with their various technical standards and policies.
Isle of Man
In the Isle of Man, the online gambling license application fee is £5,000 (with a non-refundable upfront fee of £1,000) and £35,000 is paid annually. Gaming taxes vary between 0.1 to 1.5% depending on the turnover (gross gaming yield). The application procedure is quite extensive. Applicants must have a solid money reserve for payouts, prove to be reputable and offer fair gaming principles. The company shall be registered in the Isle of Man and the servers hosting the online casino should also be located there.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a respected but at the same time expensive gaming license jurisdiction. There is a $15,000 non-refundable application fee and $100,000 is paid for an Interactive gaming license, with a yearly renewal fee of $5,000. The application procedure lasts at least 60 days. A reserve of $100,000 is required before the casino starts operating. There are strict anti-fraud and money laundering regulations.
Montenegro is a relatively young gambling jurisdiction providing “all-in-one” services including licensing, merchant accounts, and company setup. The package fee is €22,500 with an annual renewal fee of €15,000.
Curaсao (Netherlands Antilles) is definitely one of the best options as it offers the most cost- and time-effective solution for operators. No wonder it’s a super popular jurisdiction for iGaming. The license holding entity must be incorporated on Curaçao, which can only occur through trusted partners working with the Regulator. The process of incorporation and license acquisition lasts several weeks and can be done remotely. Unlike some countries, Curaçao doesn’t require the casino servers to be kept on its soil, but regular database backups on a server physically located in Curaçao are still necessary.
SoftSwiss provides assistance with Curaçao license application to clients who chose to start an online casino on the SoftSwiss gaming platform. The total costs, including company incorporation and gaming license acquisition, paid to the regulator and Curaçao-based legal advisors range around $14,000 for the first year and $10,000 for each subsequent year.
Smart alternative: White Label
If your goal is to start and grow an online casino business, but you don’t want to postpone the launch until all the numerous license application formalities are processed, SoftSwiss can “lease” its own Curaçao or Malta gambling license as part of the White Label casino solution. Operating a casino under the White Label model has its own benefits and oftentimes proves more cost-effective than going for your own license.
To sum it up, whichever gambling jurisdiction you choose, a lot of effort is needed to carefully study the requirements, fill in the application, provide all necessary company documentation and communicate with the licensing body. The process requires significant time and knowledge of the legal aspects of gambling. A White Label casino might become a smart alternative to going for a proprietary license, as it lets operators start faster and invest their time into actual business development.