Online gambling is a highly regulated industry, with operators and software developers being required to jump through many hoops in order to be able to legally offer real money betting. Many countries now also require a specific license to be held to accept customers from that region, often linked to a gaming tax – the UK, for example, requires all gambling sites to be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission and imposes a 15% point of consumption tax on all revenue made in the country.
In this article we’ll take a look at some of the larger regulatory bodies that exist around the world (in alphapetical order):
- Alderney Gambling Control Commission
- Gibraltar Regulatory Authority
- Kahnawake Gaming Commission
- Malta Gaming Authority
- UK Gambling Commission
Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCG)
The Alderney Gambling Control Commission has been in operation since 2000 and it’s their job to make sure that all parties who are a part of their licensing jurisdictions adhere to codes and conducts within that license. It’s worth noting that this point that Alderney is a part of the Channel Islands and they are not a part of the UK nor the UK. They are tied only by the fact that they are part of the British Colony and aside from being a whitelisted jurisdiction for use within the UK, hold no ties to the UK Gambling Commission.
What role do they play?
The Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCG) were put in place to make sure that legislations such as The Gambling (Alderney) Law 1999 are being correctly practised by companies. On their website they quote these three areas as their main points of interest:
- All electronic gambling is conducted honestly and fairly and in compliance with good governance;
- The funding, management and operation of electronic gambling remains free from criminal influence; and
- Electronic gambling is regulated and monitored so as to protect the interests of the young and the vulnerable
The AGCG offer up a number of different licenses for companies looking to gain accreditation, with each license being accessible to different companies depending on their needs. These include:
- A Category 1 License
- A Category 2 License
- A Core Services Associate Certificate
- A Category 2 Associate Certificate
- A Hosting Certificate
- A Temporary eGambling License
- A Key Individual Certificate
With each license the AGCG will require the company to meet a certain set of criteria. Depending on the license, which they apply for, each company will have to ensure that they satisfy the requirements of the AGCG board before they get accredited. It’s also worth noting that with each bracket a fee will have to be paid. For the larger gambling companies, fees can reach as much £400,000 per annum, which may seem like a lot but in fact this is one of the cheaper regulatory bodies in the industry.
Alderney also employ one of the latest gambling acts to be published, The eGambling Regulations 2009. This has been crafted due to the massive increase in online gambling activities and the large number of companies that were flocking to Alderney for their slightly more relaxed approach to how companies are vetted. But, the new proposal is much more in line with how online companies operate and allows for easier regulations and much fewer loopholes than the original The Gambling (Alderney) Law 1999.
Platforms that are licensed by the AGCG
The number of licensees that the AGCG have is testament to how thorough they are in ensuring player safety. It also highlights how many companies are working out of Alderney, with the expansion over the last 10 years being exponential, mainly down to the favourable tax laws for these companies.
Some of the bigger networks include Bear Group, BGO, Bonne Terre Ltd, Daub Alderney, IGT, Jumpman Gaming Limited and Virtue Fusion. Now, you may not be all that familiar with these names, but the networks includes the likes of Sky Gambling, PaddyPower, Coral Games, Gala Bingo, Spin City and Bet Daq.
The AGCG were set up in 2000 and the growth of the online gambling sector within the region of Alderney within that timeframe has been pretty exponential. There are now over 350 companies who make up part of the Alderney licensing agreement, which has more than doubled in the last 5 years alone.
The company encourage all users to direct their problems to the gambling company in question, which is not uncommon. But, they will escalate problems when either contact has been made with no response or a player still feels as though they have been hard done to on the decision from the Alderney Licensed outlet.
You are able to see full lists on the AGCG website of fully licensed gambling outlets for free.
- Website: https://www.gamblingcontrol.org/
- Address: The Alderney Gambling Control Commission St Anne’s House, Queen Elizabeth II Street, Alderney, Channel Islands, GY9 3TB
- Telephone: + 44 (0)1481 825500
- Fax: + 44 (0)1481 823978
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Curacao is situated within the Caribbean and are regarded as one of the oldest regulating countries for the online gaming industry in the world. Established in 1996, they have accepted a whole host of online companies in that time and now they have built up a reputation as one of the best in the industry.
What role do they play?
It’s worth noting that Curacao is actually one of the colonies that makes up as part of the territory of Netherlands. This essentially allows them to regulate under EU constituencies, although based just outside of Venezuela, there are often debates on who the land really belongs to.
But, as far as online gaming is considered, they are able to offer one of the oldest and most stable gaming regulations in the industry, which is why they now boast some of highly regarded companies from within the gambling industry.
They work under an IP blanket, which essentially means that they allow their users to access a safe and secure network to host their games under. They are able to tailor this to needs to each gambling company and also offer up solutions to international challenges that these companies may have when using an area like Curacao as their gaming regulation.
On top of this they are able to provide a safe and secure network under their own servers, of which many of the gaming sites that use Curacao for licensing utilise. Features such as private cloud servers, DEO IP servers, cloud storage and aggressive bandwidths allow companies to work safely but also promptly, which is a must for online gaming services.
For companies wanting to use Curacao’s services, they offer up a thorough, but accessible application process. This can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks before they accepted and often gambling companies will need to tweak or change how their company operates in order to comply.
One of the best features for most sites is that Curacao offer up a blanket license, which means that are able to offer a number of different services (sports, casino, bingo etc.) from the one license. This often goes against other regulatory bodies that offer multiple licenses for each product, which in turn adds to cost.
Platforms licensed by Curacao
It’s probably fair to say that the majority of the bigger players in the online gambling industry are regulated in other jurisdictions, but Curacao still boast some fairly big names. These include the likes of Guts Casino, Casino Cruise, Casino Room, Casino Luck, 18bet, and RealDealBet Casino.
The main reason why it’s made up of smaller gambling sites is mainly down to cost License fees with the likes of the UK Gambling Commission and Malta Gaming Authority can be as much as £400,000 per year, whereas with Curacao the max charge is that of $84,000 per year.
After the legislation was established in 2006, Curacao have managed to create a wide range of companies who now utilise it. In fact there are over 100 that are based within Curacao, making them one of the largest in the industry.
The shift towards more online gambling outlets has seen their license and their legislations change dramatically over the years. But, what’s great about Curacao is that they are often updating it to keep it more up to speed with changes and shifts in both user and client behaviour.
It’s worth noting that Curacao do not offer a complaints department for any issues that arise; these are dealt with by the casino or gambling site that the player is using. If they need any further help then they must escalate this with Curacao or alternatively get in touch with their countries respected governing body that handles those types of complaints. It’s then their job to raise issues with Curacao who in turn contact the gaming provider on their behalf.
- Website: https://www.curacao-egaming.com/
- Address: Curaçao eGaming, Pletterijweg Oost, Ara Hilltop Building, Curaçao
- Email: email@example.com
Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (GRA)
Gibraltar is an unusual one for the gambling industry, in that companies are able to work from under licenses from several different jurisdictions. For example, because Gibraltar is part of the British Overseas Territory, it’s able to offer licenses from within the UK Gambling Commission. But, it also includes it’s own authority which comes in the form of the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (GRA), of which we will be concentrating on for the purpose of this article.
What role do they play?
The GRA has been designed to offer gambling outlets based within Gibraltar the ability to apply for a license that is going to ensure they stick to strict guidelines. These guidelines are generally in place to ensure player safety, but they also need to make sure that each company who holds a GRA accredited license are playing fair with the day to day running of their business.
What’s interesting about how they work is that it comes in line with the processes and procedures from the Gambling Act 2005. When companies apply for a policy they are offered up by the Licensing Authority and this is then assigned by The Gambling Commissioner under the provision of the Act.
One of the major roles that they play is making sure that companies don’t overstep the line when it comes to advertising. This will eradicate things like dishonest adverts about sign up bonuses and inflated odds that can be achieved from bookmakers. All adverts must be highly accurate in the message it portrays sand the aspect of the company that is trying to market. A huge part of this includes the process of making sure that these adverts are in no way designed for access by minors.
Another contentious, but notable sector of the company is to tax companies as they use the license and also operate out of the shores of Gibraltar. Like most licenses, the price that they pay will depend on the amount they earn and also the type of license that they are applying for. For example, from 1st April 2005 all companies are charged 1% of their turnover up to £42,500,000, with their tax being capped at £425,000 per annum.
Part of The Gambling Commissioners role is to make sure that each company who either hold or are apply for a license within Gibraltar are bound to a Code of Practice. This is basically an agreement that they will adhere to the rules that are in place and the practices that are advised by The Gambling Commissioner. This is actually one of the most important steps for a company and if they fail to do so or fail to bind by this practice, then they could have their license revoked.
Platforms licensed in Gibraltar
There are currently 31 companies that are currently licensed out of Gibraltar, ranging from Casino fixed odds, Casino B2B, Betting Exchange, Casino and Financial Spread Betting. Some of the more established names include Ladbrokes, BetVictor, 32 Red, 888, Betfred and Betfair, to name just a few.
The licensing structure as we see it today as been in placed since 2005, which is mainly down to the fact that they enforce the 2005 Gambling Act that was originally put in place by the UK Government and enforced by the UK Gambling Commission. Both Gibraltar and the UK have pretty much the same regulations when it comes protecting players and companies within the gambling sector, which is mainly down to the fact that they are both British Colonies.
In Gibraltar you are going to be able to contact The Commissioner with any troubles or issues that you may be having and part of their task force has been set up to help players. This contact has also been in place to check to see if a company has a valid license in Gibraltar or not, although they do publish a list of the companies that are currently licensed on their website.
- Website: http://www.gra.gi/
- Address: Gambling Division H.M Government of Gibraltar, Europort, Suite 603, GX11 1AA Gibraltar
- Tel: 00350 20064142
- Fax: 00350 20064150
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) are one of the most important license and regulatory bodies within the industry. Why? Well, they are one of few that currently accept players who are based in the US, meaning that they have a very important job in recovering this market from the fallout of the UIGEA back in the mid 2000’s.
What role do they play?
The KGC are responsible for a number countries around the world and work alongside several jurisdictions to ensure that players are playing on safe and reliable online gaming platforms. They do operate separate licenses for land based gaming as well, but for the purpose of this article, we will be concentrating on their online efforts.
What the KGC are probably best known for is moving with the times and whilst their manifestos have been paid out since 1999, the company have been constantly changing and editing them to make sure that they are able to fully ensure players safety in the modern era. They target some key areas within their legislation, which are highlighted on their website as the following:
- Control interactive gaming within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake
- Responsible, friendly and honest gaming platforms
- Prevent crime and criminal activity within their games or gambling outlets
- Fair games and opportunities for all players
- Protect young and vulnerable people from online gaming
The KGC will break down their licenses that companies can apply for into 4 categories. These include Interactive Gaming License, Client Provider Authorisation, Inter-Jurisdictional Authorisation and Key Person License. By having separate licenses fro each company it allows them to split them into sectors that are much more manageable. The regulations for each sector may differ slightly as certain companies will need to adhere to certain rules. For example, an online casino will need to have different measures for their games (Return To Player percentages) than say a sportsbook would.
The costs to be part of the KGC will differ depending on which license you need. A full license, which is often referred as the Client Provider Authorisation will cost $35,000 per annum whereas a Key Person Permit will cost just $5,000.
Kahnawake are one of few regulatory bodies that use approved agents to carry out checks and make sure that companies adhere to rules. These include Quinel, eCOGRA, Gaming Associates and iTech Labs. You can think of these as the eyes and ears of the KGC, if you will.
Platforms that are licensed by the KGC
As we mentioned at the start of the article, the KGC work very closely within the US market and the majority of sites that utilise their regulations are all based and targeted towards the US. Some of these companies include World Online Software, Digamma Limited, Grand Web Master Ltd. And Baytree Limited.
The Commission was established in 1996 and are based out Kahnawake, which is a small community of around 8,00 based about 20 minutes from Montreal Canada. The land is only about 20 square miles in size and it is made up of North American Indians from the Mohawk Tribe.
The KGC have been regulating since 1999 and whilst they started off with just land-based casinos that were often their own, they quickly moved into the online sector and created legislations for countless companies over the years. The Commission have always worked in partnership with other gambling bodies, such as the Malta Gamin authority and the Alderney Gaming Commission of Control to ensure that each are performing the best possible practices for their players.
- Website: http://www.gamingcommission.ca/
- Address: Kahnawake Gaming Commission, P.O. Box 1799, Old Malone Highway, Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, QC J0L 1B0, Canada
- Telephone: +1 450 635 1076
- Email: email@example.com
Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)
The Malta Gaming Authority were set up in 2001 to control all business who work within the gambling based out of Malta. Due to the popularity of companies setting up in Malta, it was decided that in order to make them fully accountable for their actions and in respect of player safety, The Lotteries and Other Games Act 2001 would be established and in turn, all companies operating in Malta would have to adhere to these rules.
What role do they play?
The act that was set up in 2001 by the MGA has a simple purpose (taken from MGA website):
“To regulate competently the various sectors of the gaming industry that fall under the Authority by ensuring gaming is fair and transparent to the players, preventing crime, corruption and money laundering and by protecting minor and vulnerable players.”
Essentially the goal of the MGA to ensure that people are able to play and bank freely with online gaming sites that now utilise The Lotteries and Games Act 2001. What’s the most impressive part of the MGA is that, probably more than other licensing jurisdiction in the industry, is that they are constantly updating and amending the act. As you can imagine, a lot has changed in the world of gambling since 2001 to the present day, especially online, so making sure that they have principles and methods in place to oversee any wrongdoing is essential.
The MGA’s main objectives are to be completely open and honest about what they do and encourage gambling companies who want to use the MGA as their licensee to do they same. They agree that transparency is key in this industry and potential customers should be aware of what they are signing up before registering new accounts or being tricked into singing up for deals or promotions that are unobtainable.
They are trying to offer their clients a “one stop shop” when it comes to their licensing and what’s great about the MGA is that they are whitelisted with a number of other European countries, including the UK.
Another string to the MGA’s bow is that they actually collect gambling taxes from these companies on behalf of the Maltese Government. In fact, they actually work very closely with the government in most aspects of their business, especially when it comes to handing out fines and retributions for companies that have failed to follow the MGA’s guidelines. Other activities that they include are monitoring licensing gaming products, supporting good causes and ensuring that the gambling industry and constantly contributing towards the country’s development.
Platforms licensed by the MGA
There are actually 4 different licenses that are on offer from the MGA, which range depending on what exactly you want to do with each license. They are as follows:
- Class 1 – a remote gaming licence
- Class 2 – a remote betting licence for sports
- Class 3 – a licence to advertise gaming in or from Malta (suitable for poker rooms and peer-to-peer gaming)
- Class 4 – a licence to host and manage remote gaming operations
Depending on what each company needs will obviously depend on the license that they apply for. Bear in mind that the MGA also offer licenses for casino software providers as well, which can include Net Entertainment Limited, Microgaming, Amaya, Evolution Gaming and Play n Go.
The MGA are probably most famous for being the first governing body to fully regulate online gambling within a country. Since the Lotteries and Other Games Act of 2001 was passed, the country have been bombarded with thousands of applications every year, but their strict guidelines and policy often mean that many of these get rejected.
But, the flip side of that is that the MGA are also one of the most expensive licenses that companies will have to pay for to gain accreditation. The fees will range depending on the license that you want to apply for, but they can be as much as €446,000 for some companies, of which the fee is capped at.
The MGA are also one of few companies offer up a complaints procedure, allowing players to contact them with issues they may have. They have even come up with a Players Charter that allows punters to see an overview of their rights and to see if their complaint has any legs to process legally or not.
- Website: http://www.mga.org.mt
- Address: Malta Gaming Authority Building SCM 02-03, Level 4, SmartCity Malta, Ricasoli SCM1001, Malta
- Email: Webform
UK Gambling Commission
The UK Gambling Commission was established in 2005 but didn’t take over full power until 2007. They have been put in to practice to help with the regulation of companies that apply for licenses with them ensuring a crime free, fair and open platform in which companies must abide by. It’s also worth noting that whilst the UK Gambling Commission primarily oversee that of online and land based gambling outlets, they also regulate the National Lottery, which can be played within the UK.
What role do they play?
They work closely with the government, both on a national and regional basis and advise them on how best to go about making sure that companies are abiding and offering a fair and safe practice for their players. They also hold the industry in which they work in fully accountable, so any companies that don’t hold up to the strict standards that are set by the UK Gambling Commission will be punished and they will advise the government on best form of punishment for the methods they have adopted.
Their roll within the National Lottery is essentially to make sure that any charitable funds are distributed fairly and to legitimate good causes. This may include companies who have applied for grants to also be part of the UK Gambling Commission, which then means they can oversee how they are functioning as well.
They then license each company individually once they have gone through a series of protocols. Each company will have to meet the criteria laid out to earn license or any companies that already have licenses with them and fail to comply with current legislation will be fined and could face further sanctions for the government.
The UK Gambling Commission will work closely with a number of companies including the police an HM Revenue and Customs to combat against any illegal activities that are taking place.
Platforms Licensed by the UK Gambling Commission
As of November 1st 2014, all companies that want to offer online gambling opportunities within the UK are required to be fully licensed by the UK Gambling Commission.
The license can be offered to companies based around the world, however, a 15% consumption tax is levied on the net win originating from the UK, regardless of where the company is based.
The UK White List
The requirement for a gambling site to be licensed in the UK didn’t exist prior to 2014 and from 2005 to 2014 there was something called the ‘UK White List’. Before the introduction of specific UK-based licenses, a gambling site who wished to offer their services in the United Kingdom simply had to be licensed in an approved jurisdiction and to follow various compliance rules (such as linking to a gambling advice site and discouraging under age gambling by displaying the 18+ logo).
The white listed jurisdictions included: EEA countries*, Alderney, Antigua & Barbuda, Gibraltar, Isle of Man and Tasmania.
* EEA Countries means: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands (note: not the Netherlands Antilles), Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK.
Permission for sites licensed in these countries to operate in the UK formally ended when the new laws came in in 2014, meaning the sites had two choices – apply for a license or withdraw from the UK market.
The UK Gambling Commission has been in operation since 2005 and were designed to be brought in by the government to control the use and govern what was going on in the gambling industry. At that time, online gaming was hitting new heights of popularity and the system that they had in previously was deemed to be dated and not relevant to the forms of gambling that were now readily available to punters online.
One thing that is worth noting is that they aren’t there to deal with complaints that consumers have about certain gambling companies. So, if you have an issue with casino over a bonus that you have claimed, the UK Gambling Commission wont be able to help you directly. On the same topic, they wont be able to help you with any legal enquires either that you may have with gambling sites. But, they do work with consumer companies such as the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) and the ADR (Alternative Disputes Resolution) who are independent third party companies. They will filter any information that they think is relevant to the UK Gambling Commission and the subsequent action will then be taken.
One word of advice is that whilst companies may have the UK Gambling Commission emblem on their site or have written that they license them, this may not always be the case. You are quickly and easily able to search within the UKGC website to see if sites have indeed been licensed. Here you will also be able to find information about the company such as contact details and a land-based address.
- Website: http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/Home.aspx
- Address: Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B2 4BP
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org