Casino licensing

Learn everything there is to know about iGaming licenses: why they’re important, who distributes them and what they mean for players.

All casinos are required by law to hold a license from the jurisdiction where they conduct base operations: this is also true of online casinos. If a gambling website does not hold a license, there is no guarantee that its service is legitimate. Make sure you familiarise yourself with the information on this page so that you only play at credible gambling destinations.

What a license means

Casino license holders have been approved for operation by the territory in which they are based. This means they stick to the laws and regulations set out by that territory.

The process of obtaining a casino license is actually quite lengthy and cumbersome. This is intentional and designed to dissuade illegitimate individuals, criminals and fraudsters from setting up online gambling operations.

Particular regulations and the strictness of gambling law vary from region to region, but typically, licensing bodies must be confident of the following before granting a license:

  • The brand can prove its honesty and integrity, ensuring that none of its staff have a history of criminality or fraud.
  • All cash transactions will be handled above board and that sufficient measures have been taken to ensure customer security.
  • Games will be subject to audits by independent bodies to ensure fair pay-outs (although some casinos choose not to publish audit reports).

Is my casino licensed?

Licensing information should be visible on a casino’s website to demonstrate that it operates in accordance with the law and maintains an expected standard of fairness.

You should find licensing information displayed in the form of a seal in a casino website’s footer (the space at the very bottom of its homepage). When clicked, this seal might link out to the homepage of the board that granted the casino its license. See below:

safety_licenced  Online Casino Licensing safety licenced

To be one hundred percent certain that a casino holds an active license, you should visit the relevant gaming control board’s website. Some will publish lists of licensees, while others require you to get in touch and make an enquiry.

History of licensing

Online gambling was made possible in 1994 by the government of Antigua & Barbuda. This island nation in the Caribbean passed the Free Trade and Processing Act, which allowed licenses to be granted to online gambling companies.

Most online casinos operate in similar, small, island principalities, meaning that territories like Gibraltar, Costa Rica and Malta soon emerged as the primary licensing authorities for internet gambling.

It was not until 1996 that a dedicated regulatory authority emerged for online casinos. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake with the goal of keeping online gambling operations fair and transparent.

Today, most of the 900+ internet casinos hold licenses from the handful of jurisdictions that actively granted licenses in the 1990s, due to casino brands’ tendency to cluster in these territories.

Main licensing bodies

All of the casinos featured on hold active licenses from the following regulatory bodies:

safety_alderney  Online Casino Licensing safety alderneyAlderney Gambling Control Commission

safety_isleofmann  Online Casino Licensing safety isleofmannIsle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission

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safety_antigua  Online Casino Licensing safety antiguaAntigua & Barbuda Financial Regulatory Commission

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safety_kahnawake  Online Casino Licensing safety kahnawakeKahnawake Gaming Commission

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costa-rica  Online Casino Licensing costa ricaCosta Rica Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry

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safety_malta  Online Casino Licensing safety maltaMalta Lotteries & Gaming Authority

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safety_vanuatu  Online Casino Licensing safety vanuatuVanuatu

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safety_gibraltar  Online Casino Licensing safety gibraltarGibraltar Regulatory Authority

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