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Casino licensing, regulation and certification – are they really so important?

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Casino licensing, regulation and certification – are they really so important?

Made by the request of SlotoHolic

I admit that generally think a lot, before giving a definite answer to any question, but in this case, it’s not that complicated at all! So if I have to respond immediately to what all the fuss is really about and are the licensing and certification of an online casino really so important to us, then the likely response is only one - yes, yes and yes again! In fact, only recently, I realized that if we look at this aspect of the relationships between a casino and a player from the point of time, we will certainly find that this is probably the most dynamically changing value. But for all this after a while, and now let us go back almost 20 years ago. And so ...

Alongside with the rapid growth of the internet technologies in the middle 90s, came the unlimited business opportunities to offer customers something completely new and totally innovatively – the ability for the people to entertain without the need of leaving their own homes! And that includes the gambling, of course! So, basically, the birth of the online casinos can be described by a simple mathematical equality – new technologies + Internet + gambling = online casino! Well, this mathematical equality could be really simple, but what had happened in the next couple of years was unbelievable! From just a few online casinos in 1995, the number of online operators in the 1999, offering their clients all kind of gambling, has increased to several hundreds! Almost every month, more and more new players appeared on the market and soon it was crystal clear that this business has a huge potential. But not everything was going so smoothly. Wherever there is fire, there’s a smoke too, so very soon appeared the first players, stung by online casinos refusing to pay them for one reason or another. Increasingly casino customers fall victim to various scams like ID data theft and credit card fraud or just being treated in a rude and disrespectful way! Pretty soon became apparent that the market for online gambling is too free and desperately needs a serious adjustment. All licensing jurisdictions gradually increased their requirements for issuing a license to the online operators, and soon after came the first of the so-called "third party watchdog organizations", whose main role was basically to monitor how the casino takes care of the privacy and security of the owed personal data, for the accurate and timely payment of winnings and for the integrity and quality of the gambling software, and all other aspects of the relationship casino - player!

The first country to allow an online gambling casino to deploy its servers in its territory was the small Caribbean island of Antigua and Barbuda in the distant 1994. This became possible by the adoption of the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act from the local Government and only a few years later, the country has huge revenue, up to almost a third of the gross national product, and hundreds and eventually thousands of new jobs. In the same year was founded the largest company producing online gambling software - Microgaming, which even at the present dominates the market without a doubt, both in terms of quality and quantity of games offered, as well as the security and integrity of its software! In 1995 began to work what is believed to be the first online casino - Internet Casinos Inc. (also known as ICI). The casino offers its customers only 18 online games, but also an access to the National Indian Lottery. The uneventful existence of the online casinos, estimated in annual revenues in tens of billions of Dollars, lasted until about mid-September 2006, when in response to the attacks of 9/11 and in an attempt to reduce the ability of terrorist groups to launder money through online gambling, the US Senate passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act 2006 (UIGEA). This act prohibits the financial institutions to accept any money transfers to online casinos by players and virtually removed from the equation more than 20 million US customers! In less than a year, the number of ceased to exist gambling operators and organizations approached the number of 2300! This is the largest decline in the short, but full of dramatic events, history of online gambling until and even now, the consequences of which can not yet be removed. Yes, it is true that millions of Americans currently play online, but it is on the edge of the law and, therefore, it is this group of players, which are most often the victims of unscrupulous casino practices. Which brings us back to our topic and namely what exactly we are talking about, when it comes to casino licensing, regulation and certification?

In general, to be confident that an online casino is honest, trustworthy and works in a transparent and credible manner, it must owe a certain set of qualities and characteristics, which to prove both to their clients and especially to the responsible organizations is a complicated and delicate process! This process consists of several stages, and failing with even one of them automatically means almost certain failure of the whole project. So, I guess you wouldn’t be very surprised, if I tell you that only a small portion of the existing online casinos have successfully completed 100% of all stages, which, of course, is the main reason that some names in this business are incredibly successful, while others simply come and go in a short time! So how it all begin...

Forefront in creating a fair and honest online casino takes the choice of the so-called "licensing jurisdiction". Or should this term have to be explained in simple words - this is the place, where the casino lands its servers and where all gaming and financial transactions are made to and from. In other words, to operate the casino needs a license that allows him to perform all the above operations. This license is called "gaming license". But in order to operate an online casino, however, it needs suitable software, which must also be licensed. Usually, each of the gambling software providers have deals or arrangements with one or more licensing jurisdictions, giving them the exclusive rights to own a so called "Master License" or to have access to the ability to getting you a gaming license. In most cases, a gaming license is required from the licensing jurisdiction you are based in order to take wagers on the internet. Some governments do not require a gaming license, while others (like Antigua, Gibraltar, Malta, Isle of Man and Costa Rica) do. And since the negative attitude of the majority of governments Around the World regarding any kind of gambling is not a big Casino Secret, it should not surprise us at all, that most licensing jurisdiction are actually small countries, often called offshore zones, which owe all the necessary attributes for doing a successful gambling business - liberal laws and a huge appetite for investments! At present, these jurisdictions are more than 70, but the majority of the valid casino licenses are concentrated in only a few of them – Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Alderney, Costa Rica, Netherland Antilles(Curacao), Gibraltar, Malta, Isle of Man, Cyprus, United Kingdom, Panama, Kahnawake(Canada) and Vanuatu. Some believe that those countries Hold almost 90% of all issued casino licenses at the moment!
Anyway, now it’s time for some questions and answers, regarding the licenses with examples:

Q: How much does it costs a casino(gaming) license?
A: It depends. It may vary from a predefined annual amount up to a small share of all net profits or generated revenues.
Example: Currently if you are planning to obtain a casino license from Antigua and Barbuda, then you are supposed to pay $75 000 per annum for landing there your primary server alongside with paying all the required taxes, such as 3% of the net wins, luckily capped at the amount of $50 000 per month! In Gibraltar there’s no start-up fee, but only a £2000 annual fee for maintaining the license and online casinos are taxed at 1% of the gross product with a cap of £425,000 per annum.
Q: How much does it costs you a gambling software license?
A: There is so many variations on that matter, that it’s simple impossible to summarize, but as a whole yes, it will cost you something. And in most of the cases it will cost you a lot!
Example: Usually the gambling software provider charges a software licensing fee. Most also take a percentage of the take for each month's revenues of the casino as well. In some cases a part of your agreement with the provider will be to use only his hardware and network equipment, or to use some predefined marketing strategies, specially designed for you casino. At the end, you will be a lucky casino manager to end the month with at least 30-40% of the net wins! J

Q: Do all of these licensing jurisdictions are equally exacting and rigorous?
A: No, not at all. Unfortunately there’s a huge difference between the quality and quantity of the applied minimum standards! As more rigorous and exacting the licensing jurisdiction is, as lower is the number of players complaints and issues! And conversely – the more liberal the requirements for issuing a license are, the more players get some run around, slow payments and bad attitude!
Strict jurisdictions – Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Alderney, Australia, UK;
Not so rigorous – Malta, Vanuatu, Kahnawake, Cyprus;
Liberal – Curacao, Antigua and Barbuda, Panama, Costa Rica.

Q: Can I seek for a help from those licensing regulatory bodies in case I have an issue with a casino, holding a license, issued by them?
A: Yes, you can! But actually only a very small number of players know that all of the licensing organization in any of the licensing jurisdictions is supposed not only to issue a license and get the money but also to regulate the casino activities and to take adequate measures in case it’s proven the operator is acting unfair and fraudulent against its own customers!
Example: Each one of the listed licensing jurisdictions above has its own specially designed organization, which owes the exclusive rights to give or take a casino license. Moreover, those organizations are supposed to help you in case you have troubles with one of their issuers! So, I will try to list some of the major players in the licensing market worldwide, as well as to provide you with their Internet addresses, where you can ask for assistance!

Alderney Gambling Control Commission


Australian Gambling and Racing Commission


Antigua and Barbuda Directorate of Offshore Gaming


Costa Rica Commerce, Industry and Economy Ministry


Gibraltar Ministry of Finance Gambling Division


Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority


United Kingdom Gambling Commission


Isle of Man Gambling Supervision


Cyprus Ministry of Finance


Kahnawake Gaming Commission


Curacao Internet Gaming Association /Netherland Antilles/


Panama Ministry of Economy and Finance


Vanuatu Interactive Gaming Consultants Ltd

And so, we've got already a valid license for our casino that gives us the right to accept bets, managed by secure and appropriate software and everything, regarding our casino project should be perfectly legal and fair. But... Yes, something is missing in the big picture and that is the guarantee that the casino will operate in a transparent, trustful and honest way to its clients. What if the software has been manipulated in favor of the operator? Or a casino just refuses to pay profits without any reason, or his staff is behaving rude and inappropriate with clients? Who will ensure that our casino will operate in a completely legal, honest and open manner? Yes, one could reasonably guess that this is a matter and duty for the very licensing organization or the software provider, or all of them combined. But hey, let's face it openly - they all have a benefit from a working casino and I deeply doubt, anyone has a substantial interest in preventing normal operation with constant checks and additional problems, right?
Here is where the main role is played by the so-called independent "gambling watchdog” organizations. What are their main tasks? Firstly, to appreciate a casino or gambling software in an objective and impartial manner! Second - to use a transparent, fair and qualitative methodology on which to perform the necessary analysis and to summarize the results. And third - to give the necessary support to all players who have reasonable doubts about the randomness/fairness of certain software or have a problem with a casino! I think now you all understand why the possession of a certificate from such an organization is unbelievable occasion for pride for any casino or a software vendor! And therefore not surprisingly, the majority of online casinos (or at least those, who still owes a certificate) always have these organizations logo prominently positioned on their web pages, showing all current and future customers that this place is a safe shelter for them and for their monies!
But even with this type of organizations not everything has evolved in the easiest way! Over the years, some of them have been charged for not so fairly and objectively evaluating certain online casinos, while others for openly manipulated the results and not in favor of the players, of course. The good news is that in this business reputation is everything and this led to exclusion from the market of many companies, in whose impartiality exist even small doubts! To get to this point, where the entire market for independent audit and certification of the online gambling industry is dominated by just a few names among which stand out clearly those of eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA), Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) , Gambling Commission (GC), Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) and iTech Labs. Let me tell you now a little bit more about each one of them.

  • eCOGRA – eCOGRA, which stands for e-Commerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance, is a non-profit organisation based in the United Kingdom. It was found on April 14, 2003 by two of the leading companies, involved in the online gambling – Microgaming Software Systems Ltd and Virtual Holdings Ltd, owner of the famous Casino-on-Net and 888 in a later stage. eCOGRA was a huge success almost from the start, but no one was even dreaming that it will become not only the best in its field but almost a legendary institution! Nowadays, being certified by eCOGRA is a must for every reputable online operator and gambling software provider, but it’s still only a dream for the majority of the online casinos, due to the highest possible standards required! But that’s not all – thousands and thousands of players get a precious help by this organization each year! Personally, when I see the eCOGRA logo on any casino website, that’s more than enough to know that the operator is honest and trustworthy.
  • International Gambling Council – IGC was originally found in 1996 in the United States but move to Vancouver, Canada in March, 2000. It is a non – profit organization, established to provide a forum for interested parties to address issues and advance common interests in the global interactive gaming industry, to establish fair and responsible trade guidelines and practices that enhance consumer confidence in interactive gaming products and services, and to serve as the industry’s public policy advocate and information clearinghouse. Today IGC has become a synonym of trust and respect, when talking about gambling certification!
  • Gambling Commission – The UK Gambling Commission was established under the Gambling Act 2005 and assumed full powers in 2007, regulating various gambling activities, such as Bingo, casinos, slot machines, etc. The Commission's stated aims are "to keep crime out of gambling, to ensure that gambling is conducted fairly and openly, and to protect children and vulnerable people". The Commission is a non-departmental public body and issues licenses to gambling operators, can levy fines and revoke licenses, and is tasked with investigating and prosecuting illegal gambling.
  • Gaming Laboratories International – GLI provides gaming devices and systems testing worldwide. With 13 offices working with more than 450 jurisdictions, GLI also serves as an independent consultant to governments on the development of rules and regulations and technical specifications relating to casino gaming. GLI also provides complete independent testing and certification services for all types of gaming systems and equipment, including gaming devices in casinos, protocol analysis and certification, amusement games, bingo and Keno devices, progressive systems/signs, tote systems at pari-mutuel facilities, and many others.
  • iTech Labs – Originally founded back in 2000, the company is dealing with testing online gambling systems. Their clients include some of the largest in the online gaming industry. Integrity, accountability and a commitment to protect player's interests are their guiding principles. iTech Labs consultants have tested and certified all types of games on a wide range of online gaming platforms during past 12+ years and the staff has been at the forefront of development of Australian Internet gaming standards, now used in various forms by regulators worldwide.

Now let’s see a few questions and answers, so that all of you get the whole picture.

Q: My casino is powered by one of the biggest gambling platforms, but did not list even a single certificate on its website. Is it safe to play there?
A: Perhaps it could be a safe place after all, but more often the lack of any certificate for quality is simply a sign of future troubles and lots of nerves, when the withdrawal time has come! My experience with such type of casinos is categorical – less certificates always mean more trouble and vice versa, so take your notes folks! Usually, I always trust to online casinos, owing an eCOGRA or TST certificate and never have been disappointed so far.

Q: My casino claims to owe one or few certificates and even listed them on its website, but none of the links work? Is it safe to play there?
A: This is an old advertising trick, which unfortunately has spread widely across many online casinos recently. Although it might be just some kind of a mistake – perhaps the casino IT department has forgotten to make the rights links?! In such cases there’s only one solution. If you want to be sure that no one is playing you fool, than simply ask the support to send you a link, or an e-mail, which proves for the aforementioned certificates! If they send you the requested proves, that’s cool, if not – run from that casino as fast as you can!

Q: Although my casino owes some quality certificates, I got a problem with it. Can I submit an official complaint to one or more of the organizations issued those certificates?
A: Yes, you can! You have the right to bother the issuing organization about any matters, which you consider is not complying with the listed certificates. But let me tell you something straight! Dealing with this kind of serious organizations, like the aforementioned ones is not a joke at all, my dear friends! You are supposed to provide your complaint with very solid arguments and a complete discretion, otherwise you risk to be ignored from the very beginning! I have used this option only once a few years ago, when I submit a complaint to eCOGRA from a Microgaming powered casino, claiming its RNG (Random Number Generator) was faulty. Frankly speaking, I Lost, although I was quite confident in my point of View (backed with some proofs, of course)! Simply the guys from eCOGRA literally smashed me down with real logs from the Microgaming servers, making me look like a fool! Anyway, if you think you are right, never surrender or give up! But you should also know when to say a simple “Sorry, guys, I was wrong!”

APPENDIX A – List of current licensing jurisdictions

Africa – Comoros, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania;

Australia – Australia, New Zealand;

Asia – Hong Kong (China), Macau (China), Maharashtra State (India), Hutt River Province, Nepal. Norfolk Island, Philippines, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan, Vanuatu, Vietnam;

Caribbean – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Curacao (Netherland Antilles), St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent, Virgin Islands

Europe – Alderney, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Island, Ireland, Isle of Man, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, UK;

Mediterranean - Cyprus, Israel;

Americas – Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Canada, Kahnawake (Canada), some US States – New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, California, Louisiana, Washington, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Brazil;

APPENDIX B – List of current gambling watchdog organizations and labs

eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance - eCOGRA

Interactive Gaming Coucil - IGC

The Gambling Commission

Online Players Association

Gambling Supervision Commission


The Offshore Gaming Association

Gaming Laboratories International - GLI

iTech Labs

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good work mate. ;) i usually don't play anywhere other than the uk casinos but if i find a new place i'll make sure to make sure they're licenced.


Yeah, isaac! Most of the UK licensed casinos are quite decent. But please, when looking for your next casino, don't forget to check for certificates! ;)

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This pinned topic is indeed very informative Valdes does this topic needs to update if new laws were approved for a specific country? 


Thanks Irine, but I'm afraid this topic is dedicated to casino licensing in general and does not deal with any specific country regulations regarding online gambling. ;)

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Thanks Irine, but I'm afraid this topic is dedicated to casino licensing in general and does not deal with any specific country regulations regarding online gambling. ;)

It's okay. Iv'e been reading some jurisdiction and casino licensing  like this few months and it's absolutely worth to read before playing online casino!  :p

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Is there a place on this website that I can promote my ebook I wanted to let people know it is free on Amazon the next 5 days?



Hi there :)


You can send me a link to this book via PM. If we approve it you may be given a chance to promote your book here. Sounds as a fair deal to me. ;)

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Fantastic article! Since you didn't mention how much does a Maltese gambling liscence cost, I'd like to clarify this. I've heard Maltese gambling liscences start at $150K/year. Is that number correct?


This is a pretty old topic to be bringing back to life! I actually have no idea how much it would cost, maybe some of our other members would though.

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