Once you’ve decided to launch an online casino and chosen a software provider, the most important aspect to address is licensing. An internet gambling license is a must-have in case you want to operate your casino on a legal basis and provide electronic payment options to the users. The only way to operate your casino without a license and, consequentially, without a merchant account, is to pay and get paid in cash. Possible in certain situations, but not good if you have serious development plans.
When choosing a gambling jurisdiction, the factors which are usually considered are reputation, licensing requirements, complexity and duration of the application procedure, initial and annual costs, taxes applied, etc. Here is a brief overview of the most frequently chosen gambling jurisdictions and conditions they offer.
Malta is known as reputable jurisdiction offering affordable pricing. The application fee is €2,330 and then €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, despite the above mentioned advantages of a Maltese license, the application procedure is quite complicated and long-term. All applicants must show good reputation and provide a business plan to prove that their business will be successful. A copy of the audited accounts and personal profiles of shareholders should also be provided. The software which will be used in the online casino must be tested during 6 months before the site becomes available for users.
In the Isle of Man, the online gambling license application fee is £5,000 and £35,000 is paid annually. In order to apply for a license, operators must pay a fee of 1,000 GBP that is non-refundable. Gaming taxes vary between 0.1 to 1.5% depending on the turnover. The application procedure is long-term. Applicants must have a negotiable 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 your online casino should also be located there.
Antigua and Barbuda is one of the most respected but at the same time most expensive gaming license jurisdictions. There is a $15,000 non-refundable application fee and £100,000 is paid each year. The duration of application procedure is at least 60 days. A reserve requirement of $100,000 is required before the casino starts operating. There are strict anti-fraud and money laundering regulations which need to be met by applicants. Moreover, all operators shall put a warning on their casino web site telling about gambling addiction and listing organizations which help cure compulsive gambling.
Montenegro jurisdiction offers an attractive option. It provides “all-in-one” service including company setup, merchant account, and licensing. The package fee is €25.000 for the first year and €15.000 from the second year.
Curacao (Netherlands Antilles) turns out to be the fastest and cheapest solution. The cost of application is about €2,000 and monthly license support fee €1,500. It has 0% tax on gross bets in case the company is registered outside Curacao (so there is a possibility to open an offshore company and apply for the license on its name). The process of obtaining a license lasts only 6 weeks. Some countries require the servers to be located in the place of jurisdiction. Curacao does not.
If you want to have a license in other jurisdiction than Curacao, but don’t want to postpone the launch until all formalities are processed, there is a possibility to start operating with a Curacao gambling license while waiting for the other jurisdiction of your choice to issue their license.
To sum it up, whichever gambling jurisdiction you choose, it will require certain time to carefully learn the requirements, fill in the application, provide all necessary company documentation and communicate with the licensing body. Not so difficult, but requires certain time and knowledge of legal aspects of gambling. It might be a better option to use professional help and invest your own time into business development instead.
Article by Maria Montik
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