date 1 March 2024 update Upd: 23 April 2024 reading time 17 min views 6089 views

Understanding the process of getting a gambling licence is crucial when venturing into the iGaming industry. Having a valid licence from a reputable authority is essential for avoiding a variety of risks and instilling trust in your gaming site among players. With thousands of competitors, you must differentiate your business from the rest by offering a safe and regulated gambling environment. Read our comprehensive guide to discover the legal requirements and understand how to get a gaming licence.

What Is An Online Gambling Licence?

Obtaining an online gambling licence is one of the first steps every business operator in the iGaming scene should take to ensure legitimacy and trustworthiness. A licence is a legal document that permits a business to operate in a given territory and ensures the business complies with the law and the safety of both businesses and customers.

Why Do You Need a Gambling Licence?

A gambling licence is a must-have for businesses to operate legally. It shows that your platform is regulated and complies with existing laws within a jurisdiction. Since it provides legal protection for players, its importance is vital for your online casino or sportsbook business to grow by attracting and retaining more players. On the other hand, operators without licences face many legal, operational, and financial risks. In an industry that is estimated to be valued at $1 trillion by 2030, only operators who meet gaming licence requirements can get their share of the market without experiencing legal problems.

Advantages of Gambling Licence

Every business with an online gaming licence enjoys numerous benefits that are not available to illegitimate operators. Legitimate online casino operators have the ability to excel in the competitive and ever-changing iGaming market, establishing trust and a sense of transparency among their players. Here are the benefits of acquiring a licence for your online gambling website to achieve success.

Legal Protection

Unlicensed operators are exposed to legal risks such as high chances of prosecution and penalties for not following the law. Depending on the jurisdiction, the penalty for illegal gambling operations may vary from a fine to a prison sentence. Operators may also face legal consequences for managing finances without proper documentation. A licensed operator who follows the rules will be protected by the law.

Consumer Trust

A gambling site with a verifiable licence is more likely to gain the trust of players than a rogue operator. If you do not have a permit, gamblers will be hesitant to join or stay, which will reduce your revenue. You can avoid such issues by obtaining licences from trustworthy regulatory bodies.

Regulatory Compliance

An online gambling licence demonstrates your business’s commitment to complying with existing laws and ethical standards. It is a sign that your gaming site meets all requirements to offer iGaming services. Moreover, it shows that you follow responsible gambling guidelines.

Access to Payment Services

Having a proper licence makes it easier for operators to partner with reputable payment processors. This is important because you need to provide players with a variety of safe and reliable payment methods trusted by billions locally and internationally.

Marketing Opportunities

A company with an appropriate online gaming licence can conduct and run legal advertising and sponsorship campaigns in accordance with the laws of the jurisdictions in which it holds the licence, increasing its potential to reach a wide range of audiences. If you are focusing on strictly regulated areas, you can use your licence as a marketing tool to appeal to new customers. 

Access to New Markets Domestically and Internationally

A gambling business can operate locally by obtaining a licence from their respective government. Moreover, there are great opportunities to target international markets and reach as many customers as possible. It all depends on the type of licence you have obtained for your gaming website. 

Partnership Opportunities

There are a variety of partnership opportunities in the iGaming sector if you have an online gambling licence. You can quickly convince top-tier software providers, financial institutions, affiliates, sponsors, and other businesses to partner with you if you have proof of legitimate operations.

Compliance with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Regulations

Regulated gambling businesses ensure integrity by adhering to strict know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) regulations. Online gaming licence issuers make sure of this by strictly monitoring operators to verify the legitimacy and security of all transactions.

Gaming Licence Requirements

Operators must meet all gaming licence requirements in the targeted jurisdictions to have their applications processed and approved. Gambling authorities usually perform background checks to ascertain the applicant’s age, financial capacity, and compliance with gaming laws and ethical standards. When applying for a gambling licence, you are required to submit identity documents and a certificate of incorporation for a limited company. 

Other considerations include online gambling software providers, management structures, application fees, taxation, documents regarding remote policies, bank statements, business plans, the ongoing responsibilities of the operator, and proof of funding.

How to Get a Gaming Licence

You might ask, “how do I get a gaming licence?” Well, the process of obtaining one involves easy-to-follow steps. The specific requirements may vary from one jurisdiction to another, but some of them are common throughout the world. It’s recommended to have all the necessary documents ready to have your application assessed and approved quickly. 

Choose a Jurisdiction

The first step is to identify your target audience and where they reside. If you want to operate locally, then you need to get a licence from the local regulatory body. On the other hand, you must find gambling bodies that issue international licences if your business targets players in different jurisdictions. Understanding gambling laws in target countries is also important at this stage.

Register Your Business

Registering your gambling business is important to make sure you are on the right side of the law. You need to draft a plan indicating the name of your business and the services you want to offer to your customers. This phase often involves visiting the registrar of companies in your country. Many governments also provide the option to register your business online.

Prepare Required Information

Determine the type of gambling licence you need and prepare the required documents to avoid unwanted delays during the application and review process. These include details of your business, email address, physical offices, and debit or credit card information. Other requirements may include legal documents to verify the applicant’s identity, financial statements, and criminal records, depending on the jurisdiction.

Apply for a Gaming Licence

Once you prepare your documents, the next step is to apply for your online gambling licence. This is where you have to submit the application and pay the required registration fees. You can visit the local authority physically or apply on the regulator’s online portal. Remember to cross-check your details before submitting to make sure they are accurate.

Obtain a Gaming Licence

The final phase of the application process is to collect your online gaming licence. However, the gambling authority needs time to review your details. Depending on the jurisdiction and strictness of the regulator, it can take several weeks to approve your application.

Types of Online Gambling Licences

Operators should ask the question “what kind of gambling licence should I acquire?” before initiating the application process. The right licence for your business will depend on the gambling activities you want to host on your platform and jurisdiction. If you are designing a standalone online poker platform, for instance, your licence will be different from that of a sportsbook. Here are the most common gambling licences that you can apply for based on your operation type.

Online Gambling Licence

This is a general licence issued to operators who provide a wide range of gambling services over the internet. It is available at different types of online casinos, sportsbook websites, poker rooms, and other platforms that offer virtual gaming services.

Sports Betting Licence

If your online gaming website solely focuses on offering sports betting services to the target market, this is the right licence to choose. Regulators can issue gambling licences to companies or individuals to operate land-based sportsbooks as well as online betting sites.

Lottery Licence

Lotteries are legal in many countries, and they all require some form of licensing to operate legally. The required licences are usually issued to agencies or organisations that offer classic lotto games, scratch cards, and new variants of lottery-like games.

Bingo Licence

Bingo is one of the most popular games offered by online casino operators. In some jurisdictions, there are licences specifically for operating online bingo platforms as well as traditional bingo halls that players can visit and play various bingo titles.

Poker Room Licence

If your gambling business aims to offer online poker rooms, you will need to acquire the relevant licence to operate it. The licence could be part of an online casino website with different types of games, but you can also be licensed to operate a standalone poker site.

Charitable Gaming Licence

This type of licence is normally issued to nonprofit organisations that engage in fundraising activities by offering games. It allows them to offer games of chance such as bingo and raffles, and the profits earned are usually directed to philanthropy and social causes.

Limited Gaming Licence

A limited licence is what you need if your business targets a jurisdiction where only a few gambling activities are permitted. It allows operators to offer selected casino games like slots and card games.

Gaming Jurisdictions

The licence an operator obtains should be suitable for the target markets and regions. You first need to understand that there are various iGaming jurisdictions with different requirements. In other words, each country or region has its own set of rules that govern gambling activities. The following jurisdictions have the responsibility to licence businesses, protect players, ensure fair gaming, prevent underage gambling, and promote responsible gaming.

UK Gambling Commission (UKGC)

Established in 2007 under the Gambling Act 2005, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) is responsible for regulating and providing guidance to entities and individuals who offer gambling services in Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland). This organisation issues UK gambling licences and regulates casino games, bingo, arcades, betting sites, gaming software and machine providers, remote gambling, and the National Lottery. It also sets requirements for all licence seekers.

Gibraltar

According to the Gambling Act 2005, all gambling activities in Gibraltar must be licensed and regulated. Operators looking for a remote gambling licence can get it from the licensing authority, which is a responsible branch or ministry of the respective government. The Gambling Commissioner is tasked with regulating licensees to ensure that they follow the law. Since Gibraltar is a member of the European Union (EU), its licences are recognised by other countries in the region. 

Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)

Under the Gaming Act of 2018, the Malta Gaming Authority is responsible for issuing gambling operators with a Malta gaming licence for online and land-based activities. It issues licences for B2B and B2C gambling services to ensure fair and transparent gaming while protecting the interests of players. An MGA licence is recognised internationally, allowing operators to use it across Europe.

Curaçao eGaming Licence

The island of Curaçao licensed online gambling in 1996 and has since become one of the most common places to acquire an international licence. Holders of the Curaçao eGaming Licence can offer gambling services in most regions of the world, except in a few countries such as the UK, the US, France, and the Netherlands. The Curaçao Gaming Control Board serves as the licensing authority for online gaming on the island.

Estonia

iGaming operators in Estonia are required to obtain online gaming licences to operate legally in the country. The industry is regulated by the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (EMTA) under the Gambling Act of 2009. There are two major permits—an activity licence for organising gambling and an operating licence that grants permission to open a physical gambling establishment or offer remote gaming services.

Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission

The Isle of Man was among the first jurisdictions to introduce gambling licensing laws for regulating online gaming activity. Established in 1962, the Gambling Supervision Commission is the statutory authority responsible for regulating land-based casinos and, subsequently, online gaming. It regulates lotteries, slot machines, live dealer games, and other online gambling games. Operators can choose the full OGRA licence or get a sub-licence depending on their services. Isle of Man’s liberal legislation allows operators from different countries to obtain a licence.

Swedish Gambling Authority—Spelinspektionen

The Swedish Gambling Authority (Spelinspektionen) regulates the country’s gaming market and has the power to issue an online gambling licence to any qualified operator. It ensures that all gambling activities in the country are legal, safe, and fair. Moreover, it provides operators with responsible gambling tools.

Costs of Getting a Gambling Licence in the UK

An important consideration before launching an online gambling business is the cost of acquiring an iGaming licence. The truth is that all regulators charge licence fees for starting online gambling businesses. So, how much does a UK gambling licence cost? 

An application fee for operating a remote casino under the UKGC will be charged when you submit your application. The application charges depend on the operator’s “annual gross gambling yield (GGY).” Licence fees range from £4,224 where the GGY is £550,000 to £91,686 where the GGY is over £1 billion. There are also annual fees based on the operator’s annual gross gambling yield, and additional charges may apply above a specific number of gross yields.

Costs of Getting a Gambling Licence in the EU

If you are focusing on the European Union, it is important to know the cost of a gambling licence before you get started. There are 27 countries in the EU, and all of them have the freedom to establish their own national online gambling legal frameworks. Application fees depend on the jurisdiction and the type of licence the operator wants to obtain. Here are the costs of online gambling licence fees charged by the most known authorities in different EU countries.

Risks of Operating an Online Gaming Business without a Licence

Operating without a valid online gambling licence is not an option if you want players to trust your business. Failure to obtain one can have serious consequences, including lowering your chances of attracting new customers. The following are the potential risks of starting an online gambling business without acquiring the required licences. 

Legal Risks

One of the primary challenges of doing business in the gambling industry without meeting gaming licence requirements is the risk of legal action. Most jurisdictions have regulatory authorities with strict rules that operators must follow. Those who fail to comply with the law may be fined or even have their businesses terminated.

Financial Risks

Payment system providers will have a hard time trusting your gambling brand if you do not hold a valid licence. You are most likely to gain access to limited banking methods, making it difficult to meet the needs of your customers and consequently losing revenue. If criminal acts such as fraud occur, you will also be at risk of expensive lawsuits and settlements.

Reputational Risks

All gambling businesses with the strongest reputation hold licences from renowned authorities or governments. The value of your brand decreases if there is no licence, meaning that it is extremely difficult to appeal to potential customers. Your business will ultimately be affected financially by the negative brand image and will not be able to maintain its position in the competitive market.

Operational Risks

Operating an unlicensed gambling business means that there is no supervision. You might find yourself offering low-quality games from unknown providers or running an unprotected website with no responsible gaming features. The consequences of such actions include security vulnerabilities, cyber threats, and a lack of potential for business growth.

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