Online Gambling Licenses

by
Dave Talbot
Last updated: May 20, 2021

As an online gambler, one of the most important factors to take into account when you're searching for a new gambling site to join is the gambling license it holds. Gambling licenses are very important. However, most players don't look for this crucial information before they join. In the two decades that it's been possible to gamble online, we've seen the online gambling industry change from a new and immature industry, with little regulation and protection for gamblers, to a widely regulated and safe industry with a focus on safe and responsible gambling. But this hasn't come overnight of course- it's taken quite a few years to reach where we are today.

WHAT ARE GAMBLING LICENSES?

There are multiple different jurisdictions and licensing options for an online gambling operator in today's market. The most commonly issued licenses are the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, Isle of Man, Curacao and SpelInspektionen (Sweden), Alderney, Denmark and Belgium licenses. This article is going to fully explain everything you need to know about online gambling regulation and licenses and help tackle any questions you may have about each one and what they mean for you. We aim to provide you with an informative up-to-date guide of the top online gambling jurisdictions in the world and how they help us determine an online gambling sites safety, credibility and accountability. This is so that we are confident that anything we put on our pages is safe and legitimate, and as a customer – you’re completely safeguarded.

Gambling online is not legal in every country or jurisdiction; in fact, it’s illegal in many countries. However, in those where you can gamble online legally, there will often be a license that a gambling operator will need to acquire before they can offer online gambling (or take any wagers or online bets) to that country.

COUNTRIES WHERE GAMBLING IS REGULATED

In countries where it is legal to gamble, such as the UK, Denmark and Sweden, it’s up to the government what regulation, gambling rules, taxes and laws they demand on the gambling industry. This means that jurisdictions can differ wildly from one country to the other. Heavier regulation has thrown the spanner in the works for many online gambling operators: some have not found it possible to acquire such licenses for operational or even economical reasons, but it has helped to weed out the mediocre gambling sites operating in regulated jurisdictions.

Governments often want to licence and control the gambling industry because it’s a sure-fire way of them earning tax revenue from profits and licensing fees. The worldwide online gambling industry is worth billions, after all, so it’s no surprise that little by little, governments have become savvier and have applied laws to force operators to obtain licenses in their territory.

This results in much more tax revenue for the country, and it also helps attract reputable businesses only, which in itself helps protect the countries by making safe and legal gambling sites available. Regulation is a win-win scenario for all.

WHAT LICENSEES HAVE TO UPHOLD

Obtaining a gambling license is not as easy as waving a wad of cash in front of a regulator; It’s far more intricate than that. Below is a quick-glance list of what gambling licensees will be subject to and answer for:

  • Regularly monitored by the regulator
  • Safeguarding the rights of players
  • Protection of players and operators from criminal activities
  • Measures against fraud and money laundering
  • Protection of minors and an active approach to gambling
  • Protect problems gamblers: ensuring safe gambling at all times, offering tools and self-exclusion programs for those who have a gambling problem.
  • Failure to uphold any of their licensing obligations will often result in a strike-off, where the gambling operator could lose their license to trade in that country indefinitely or face huge fines.

TOP GAMBLING LICENSES

Below is a top list of the most sought after, highly respected gambling licenses in the world. Whilst some may not apply to you, if you see a gambling site with one in its possession, it only points to very positive things:

  • United Kingdom
  • Malta
  • Alderney
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Gibraltar
  • Isle of Man
  • New Jersey (as well as many other US states)

THE UK GAMBLING COMMISSION (UKGC)

Possibly the toughest gambling regulator is the UK Gambling Commission. The UK Gambling Commission, or the “UKGC” for short, are in charge of providing licences to any gambling operation (both offline and online) in the United Kingdom. Without a licence, gambling companies cannot operate within the UK or target UK players legally. The Gambling Commission was set up in 2007 with HQ with over 300 staff after the 2005 Gambling act was introduced.

WHAT THE UKGC DOES

The UKGC tackles a wide range of activities including their UK gambling research, implementing new gambling rules, investigating player complaints, issuing licenses, among many other things. The UKGC is well known for being the most stringent of regulators – one which you do not want to fall foul of. The UKGC offers a comprehensive website that is full of information about online and offline gambling in the UK, the latest news, as well as a handy lookup area where you can look up licensees and gambling operators for all sorts of information, including their trading name, license number and all of their verified URLs which are active (or inactive) under their operations.

MAINTAINING SAFETY, RESPONSIBILITY & THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

The UKGC’s main priority, however, is the safety of online gamblers in the UK. By regulating online gambling operators, ensures that they can, so a certain degree, ensure gambling sites are operating fairly and transparently, they pay out winnings fault, they protect players and also minors and crime and money laundering.

The UK Gambling Commission enforces fine on any company which fails to meet their regulations. And they aren’t shy about the matter either. To help enforce their rules and policies, operators aren’t just let off with a warning, or a threat to lose their license. They are also threatened with hefty fines, which the UKGC aren’t afraid to dish out.

There have been some highly publicised casualties in the past couple of years, with the biggest fine of £7.5 Million being ordered to an online casino because they failed to implement enough responsible gambling measures to their customers. We think that the size of the fine is a pretty clear indication of just how seriously the UKGC takes responsible gambling.

OTHER LICENSING REGULATORY BODIES

In addition to a UK Gambling Commission licence, some online casino operators also carry licenses from other regulators. These are jurisdictions outside of the UK that carry out a comparable role to the UK Gambling Commission. Most of the time, operators will hold licenses from secondary (and occasionally more) licensing authorities so that they can freely market and attract customers from wider territories than the UK. Licensing authorities are located all over the world, but the most established and trusted are:

MALTA GAMING AUTHORITY

Whilst Malta may be one of the smallest countries and islands in the world, it has successfully ensured that it’s one of the biggest iGaming hubs in the world, positioned nicely thanks to the set up of the Malta Gaming Authority back in 1996. This made Malta the first country to set up a remote gambling license.

GIBRALTAR GAMBLING COMMISSION

The Gibraltar Gambling Commission is responsible for regulating online gambling and also land-based gambling operations in Gibraltar. This includes more than 30 of the most popular online casino brands that you see online today.

ALDERNEY GAMBLING CONTROL COMMISSION

The license that’s issued by the Alderney Gambling Commission is a popular licensing jurisdiction among game developers: NetEnt, Play’n GO and Playtech each hold permit from this regulator. Gambling operator licensees that are also licensed by the Alderney Gambling Commission include BGO (and its sister casino sites) as well as land-based Aspers Casino.

ISLE OF MAN GAMBLING SUPERVISION COMMISSION

The Isle of Man has been governing land-based and online gambling operations for over 60 years. It’s recognised for being a highly innovative regulator and recently became the first regulatory body to license a blockchain lottery operator.

WHAT GAMBLING LICENSING MEANS FOR YOU

As you can see, online gambling brands have to satisfy a wide range of rules and legalities to be able to market to and transact with players in the UK. It doesn’t matter if the operator is based in the UK or abroad, they must satisfy their licensing obligations at all times.  Always remember; if you are playing from the UK and a gambling site holds one of these alternative licenses, it must also hold a valid UK Gambling Commission license. All gambling sites that target players in the UK must have one, otherwise, they are operating illegally and must be avoided at all costs, because you won’t be protected.

GAMBLING LAWS – SUMMARY

The UK Gambling Commission is regarded as one of the best gambling regulators in the world, and since its inception, has played a vital role in guaranteeing thousands of people across the UK enjoy a safe, fair and responsible online gambling experience. The UKGC has made sure that you can get online to play casino games, slots, bet on sports, buy lottery tickets and all the other gambling products that fall under its dominion in the safest way possible. Their goal is to protect you.

This is why it’s very important to play at gambling sites that are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (or licensed by those which will regulate your jurisdiction if you are reading this from outside the UK) The great news is that all of the online casinos, slot sites and sports betting sites that we recommend on iGamglingSites.com each hold an active UK Gambling Commission licence, so you can be reassured that you will be playing at the best UK gambling sites.

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