General Characteristic of Gambling Licensing and Regulation Processes All Around the World
What is the key factor that you consider while trying to find a gambling website to play? Do you pay attention to the payouts, wagers, and reviews posted on various forums? No doubt, these are one of the most important things to think about.
However, all of these criteria will be simply irrelevant, if you manage to find an illegal casino. In such a case, you can’t be sure that you will get deserved winnings and return your own money. Furthermore, by choosing an illegal casino, you can violate one of the numerous laws once in a while. The information below will show you how to make sure that the chosen online casino is totally legal while assessing its reliability and making the right choice according to your interests.
- Official license from the casino
- General approach to gambling
- Where to get a license?
- Check if the casino has a license
- License allows working with players
- Check the owner of the online casino
- Check the level of social responsibility of the casino
- Casino selection factors
- Bonus Material
1. Why does one need to check if a casino has an official license?
All the official casinos with licenses have to pass a thorough certification of software installed on their equipment. Certification requirements to software can be different depending on the country (in some cases, casinos are required not only to register their set of software but to get an additional approval in order to embed their software solutions to an online platform).
However, by choosing a company with a license, you can somehow be sure that there won’t be any cheating or other activities related to software (at the same time, you can always check the honesty of the casino with your own set of applications).
Furthermore, licensed casinos invest money in the updates of software and new technologies in order to comply with constantly updating regulations and requirements of the license issuing authorities.
There’s no chance to give a 100% warranty in this case. At the same time, some countries have different requirements for the companies, including the size of the registered capital, bank accounts and the amount of the own funds of the company. It’s worth noting that such requirements may vary depending on the country.
We are talking about the legal protection of the players by the corresponding authorities of the license issuing country or any other governmental bodies incorporated in order to control the entire process. Furthermore, the casino itself may be a member of a non-governmental program that supports users with gambling addiction.
Saying it simply, it means that a licensed company has to make all the efforts in order to avoid transmission of your private data to third parties without your clear consent. In particular, all casinos and companies in Europe have to comply with the famous GDPR.
2. The general approach to the field of online gambling and related regulations
All countries can be divided into several groups:
In these countries, online casinos are not prohibited by the authorities, yet not controlled by governmental bodies. As a result, there are no clear rules and regulations for online casinos in such countries. According to numerous sources, such countries form the majority for the current moment (around 40%). These are countries in South America (Bolivia, Peru, and Chile, Argentina), Africa (Chad, Zimbabwe, and Angola) and other regions (India, Mongolia, and New Guinea).
There are two additional subgroups:
- Countries, where local laws prohibit all types of online gambling (e.g., Ukraine, Russia, and China).
- Countries without any clear prohibition in the legislation, but where local authorities and governmental bodies consider online casinos illegal, thus banning both casinos and players (e.g. the USA).
There are three additional subgroups:
- Countries, which allow foreign companies working in the local market.
- Countries, which allow foreign companies working in the local market with limitations.
- Countries not allowing foreign companies working in the local market.
According to the official stats of the IAGR (International Association of Gaming Regulators), the majority of the members of the Association (59%) impose no restrictions on the activities of the foreign companies, while 25% of them allow them working with specific limitations, and 16% prohibit any activity of foreign companies in the market.
It’s worth noting that the situation is constantly changing and developing.
3. License types and issuing authorities
The license may cover different fields and sectors of the gambling market. In some cases, a license may allow the holder to perform all gambling activities in accordance with the local legislation (such licenses can be issued, for example, in Curacao). However, in the majority of cases the licenses are issued for each type of activity (e.g. for betting, casinos, bingo and so on).
Furthermore, the licenses may cover the different geographical region in order to determine a zone, where the company is allowed to work. It depends on the fact if the national authorities are ready to approve specific licenses on the territory of their state.
Where to get a license?
In the majority of cases, the license shall be issued only by the corresponding authorities or governmental bodies. As a result, the legal state of an online casino can be supported only by an officially issued license.
In some jurisdictions, companies are allowed to use so-called sublicensing. In this case, the company that obtained a license from the state authorities is able to issues special sublicenses to other companies in order to allow them working in the field of gambling and online casinos. Such a system is more flexible and easy for the operators because it makes the process of market entry simpler while increasing the complexity of various checks and examinations for the players and regulating authorities.
Important! Always pay attention to the issuing country and the issuing authority of the license. As was mentioned above, different countries have totally different requirements for companies willing to obtain a license. Such requirements may be related to the size of the registered capital and the number of available funds. As a result, the stricter are demands, the more reliable and trustworthy the casino is.
You can find more information about requirements to the licensees in different jurisdictions in our articles.
4. Check if the casino has a license, as well as the validity of it
In the majority of cases, one can find detailed information about the casino in the footer of the page with the icon (a stamp) of the jurisdiction of the website registration, as well as a legal information about the company that owns and operates the website (as well as the name of the company, the country of registration and the legal address). The footer also contains detailed information about the online gambling licenses of the company (the number, the date of issue and the issuing authority).
Furthermore, such information has to be added to the Terms and Conditions (T&C) of the website. T&C are an obligatory official document that has to be published on any casino website.
One can check the validity of the license by using special databases of the national regulating authorities in different countries and jurisdictions. The majority of the countries provides free online access to such information. For example, one can easily check databases of Malta and Isle of Man.
Links for the databases of different countries can be found in further articles related to the corresponding countries.
Unfortunately, such online databases are not available for some countries. For example, Curacao doesn’t offer any tool to check the validity of the license, which makes the entire process of validity checking virtually impossible (one can only send an official request to Curacao authorities, but it doesn’t seem to be an easy way and there’s almost no chance to obtain required results). The very same goes for Costa Rica.
5. One needs to check if the license allows working with players from a specific country
It depends on the requirements and limitations of a given jurisdiction. As we mentioned above, there are three main types of regulations:
- Countries, which allow companies with licenses issued in other jurisdictions;
- Countries, which prohibit companies with licenses issued in other jurisdictions (e.g. Switzerland starting from July 1, 2020);
- States which allow companies with licenses issued in other jurisdictions, but with limitations (allowing only companies from specific countries or with a condition to locate equipment or assets of the company within the country; e.g. such limitations can be found in the UK according to the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014.
The biggest gambling companies always add detailed information about such limitations and the list of available countries to their Terms and Conditions. However, one can check such information in full only by contacting the legislative authorities of the state.
In order to avoid wasting your precious time and reading national laws, one can explore the list of reports about the countries. We make them in order to answer all questions and provide you with the most comprehensive information about the regulation and licensing process for online casinos with the links to legal acts and official comments of the national courts and regulating authorities. It’s worth noting that legal requirements can change without any notice, this we constantly update our content and articles. For example, if you are interested in the Netherlands, you can easily follow this link.Emily Campbell Expert
6. Check the owner of the online casino
We recommend you not only checking the validity of the company license but to learn more about the owner of the casino. By doing so, you will be able to:
- Confirm the existence of a real company;
- Get information about the financial state of the company;
- Find information about the beneficiaries and management of the company (one can also find all the related projects of the found company members in order to understand their current state);
- Find additional addresses and contacts of the company, including information about the location of its offices and branches in different countries.
The key problem is the fact that one can’t find all the required information in many cases, which prevents them from a thorough analysis. The key sources of information about the company are the company itself and the state, where the company is officially registered. In other words, one won’t be able to find anything about the private company registered in off-shore jurisdictions. However, it’s clear that a lack of information is a very important piece of it.
There are two main types of tools, which can be used to search for information about the company on the web:
- Non-governmental information services;
- National registries of different states.
Special information services are platforms intended to aggregate information about companies from different countries. In other words, you can use them even in case if you don’t know the jurisdiction of the needed company. There are as free (e.g. Opencorporates), as well as exclusively paid (e.g. European Business Register) options.
Bonus Material: More information about different platforms and their features, advantages, and disadvantages can be found in the end of the article (click here).
National registries of companies in different states
Each state that has already reached an adequate level of laws and regulations, has its own company register that contains information about all the companies officially registered in the country. Such a register can be easily accessed by the public audience in order to check the validity of the information. In order to access such registries, one needs to use the official website of a corresponding governmental authority that bears the responsibility for all registration processes.
In some countries, one can access such information absolutely for free, while in others (e.g. Sweden), one needs to pay for the service.
Furthermore, the amount of the provided information can also be different depending on the national resource. For example, authorities of Malta provide the minimum required amount of information, while Denmark will give you a lot of interesting data about the financial state and the history of the company absolutely for free.
7. Check the level of social responsibility of the casino
The authorities of the developed countries with advanced gambling regulation will always demand the companies working in the field to support various social programs and activities.
In addition to the requirement to install the self-control tools for the player (e.g. by limiting the maximum duration of a session or the amount of bets, as well as by using the tools for self-exclusion), many countries demand gambling companies to make regular donations to the non-governmental organizations working in the field of gaming research and helping players to fight with the addiction (e.g. such provision can be found in Section 3.1.1 of the License Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) in the UK).
In addition to the compliance with the state licensing requirements, the participation in such social activities can serve as an additional confirmation of the fact that the company strictly follows all the social activity requirements, thus it shall be considered more trustworthy and reliable.
Social responsibility of a casino may be easily verified: the site (at the bottom of the page or on the sidebar) should have a section with the appropriate name (for example, Responsible Gaming or Sensible Play) where the player is provided with all the information about self-restraint and extra means of help. Moreover, this information is often placed in the T&C.
Participation and existence of donations for such social programs and initiatives can be easily checked in a very similar way. One needs to find a special icon with the name of a corresponding social or non-governmental organization (e.g. GamCare, or GambleAware or YGAM).
8. What other factors shall be taken into account while choosing a casino
There are several independent companies intended to test the solutions in the field of online gaming in order to assess the level of reliability of the casino while checking the random number generators, the safety of information and trying to find vulnerabilities in software. One of the best examples is eCOGRA (eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance).
In case if the casino is ready to participate in such programs, you will always find corresponding icons and logos on their website. Furthermore, we highly recommend you checking the certificates on the website of the independent company.
By doing so, you will not only confirm the official state of the casino but can access the results of testing including numeric information for many critical indicators and parameters (e.g. payout percentage). For example, one can check GoWildCasino certificates issued by eCOGRA.
The membership is such organizations as EGBA (The European Gaming and Betting Association) indicates that the casino is fully compliant with their requirements.
There are as a state, as well as independent private companies intended to solve disputes between the gambling companies and players, for example, IBAS (The Independent Betting Adjudication Service). The main benefit of such membership is clear and easy to understand dispute resolution procedure. In the other hand, one needs to remember that casinos have to pay for their membership in such associations.
This information defines the legal framework that is going to be used to solve the conflicts and disputes with the casino, as well as to understand the real chances to find the owner of the casino in order to get your money. It’s worth noting that all casinos prefer to add the following section to their Terms and Conditions. All of them will tell you that the player has to file a case to the court in the jurisdiction of the company in the case, when it’s impossible to settle the dispute in any other way.
One needs to understand if there’s any withdrawal or deposit fee, as well as to learn if the casino is allowed to charge the funds of the player.
One can check it in a very easy way. The website of the casino has to contain a special “Verify security” button. By clicking the button, one shall be redirected to the page with the detailed information about the certificate and the exact date of its validity.
One needs to remember that national authorities may set a lot of requirements not only for the casinos but for their players. Read about this in further articles on gambling legislation.
Important! The mentioned independent testing organizations have to be officially certified and registered by the state or international certification and accreditation authorities, such as UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service). You need to check the information about the issuing company instead of just looking at the attractive logotypes.
The websites where you can find all the data in 2020 (Bonus Material)
Opencorporates is a web resource with information on more than 169 million companies from 71 jurisdictions.
The advantage – free database.
The disadvantage – limited information, which basically duplicates the data from the national resources.
Kompass provides information on the company’s activities, its products and services, trademarks, managers, as well as export and import data.
The advantage – quality information.
The disadvantage – a limited number of countries to search.
DNB and their GRS (Global Reference) Solution – you can get information about any company in any country around the globe and quickly assess how safe it is to cooperate. Moreover, you can order a credit risk assessment there.
The advantage – there is a free version with limited features.
The disadvantage – difficult registration process and support is not the best one.
Hoovers is another DNB solution.
The advantage – there is a free version.
The disadvantage – limited search features.
Europages provides information on companies in 36 European countries in 26 languages.
The pros and cons are similar to Kompass.
Creditreform – one can get information about the legal status, history, owners, management, and company’s activities. One can also request financial information, credit history, current and overdue debts. Additionally, the agency provides an opinion on the amount of the maximum credit limit.
The disadvantage – rather expensive service.
European Business Register – if a company is registered in the EU, then information can be obtained via the EBR. The data is presented in English for a reasonable fee. The service provides all the data from the official national registries.
The disadvantage – paid service only. The EBR takes data from national registries. Therefore, similar information can be found on a free-standing basis.
Open ownership provides information on the beneficial owners of companies around the world.
The disadvantage – if the company is an offshore one, you will hardly find any quality data.
Whois and similar services allow you to determine the domain’s owner and some information about (for example, the date of registration or contact information provided during registration).