AuthorBy Jeffrey Cammack
Updated: March 2, 2021

An important aspect of online casinos is their licensing. This is one of the first things you should look for. Gambling licenses are issued by licensing commissions in different legal jurisdictions.

An online casino operator applies for a license within that jurisdiction and it usually allows them to accept customers from a set country, or internationally.

What do license commissions do?

The primary function of a licensing commission is to issue gambling licenses to casino operators. Part of this licensing process is to ensure that online casinos comply with laws and regulations. Also, licensing authorities often test and audit operators.

Common operations of licensing commissions include:

  • Issuing of gambling licenses
  • Ensuring the operator complies with gambling laws within their jurisdiction
  • Ensuring the operator complies with regulations they set
  • Testing RNG systems and game fairness
  • Testing of security and payment systems
  • Involvement with complaints and grievances

Essentially, these organizations ensure that casino operators are acting legally, and are operating in a fair manner. This ultimately means that casinos with gambling licenses should provide a fair and secure service to their customers, and any disputes should be resolved quickly.

What makes a licensing commission good or bad?

So what defines a quality licensing authority – one that you can trust. The below provides details on how the top licensing authorities operate in contrast to less reputable organizations:

A good licensing commission will…

  • Ensure complaints are addresses quickly by the casino and resolved fairly.
  • Provide either in-house or third-party testing for games.
  • Make operators list detailed terms and conditions.
  • Ensure casinos have good business practices.
  • Make regular audits of operators’ business and casino systems.

A bad licensing commission will…

  • Leave customer complaint unaddressed or ignore them completely.
  • Allow operators to use any games without testing.
  • Loosely enforce regional laws and regulations.
  • Issue licenses without a thorough auditing/vetting process.

Essentially, good licensing commissions have a strict process and ensure that operators uphold certain standards, to ultimately provide customers with a rewarding gambling experience.

In contrast, poor licensing commissions will have minimal interactions with the operators, and allow them to operate as they wish, without any constraints. This often results in unethical practices, such as withholding winnings, or unfair bonus conditions.

The 10 most popular licensing commissions in the gambling industry

There is a large selection of licensing commissions available. However, the following 10 are ones that are most popular and oversee the large volume of online casinos.

UK Gambling Commission

A license from the UK Gambling Commission is often seen as the most prestigious available. This is a reputable authority and if you see a casino has a license from here, you know they are reliable and fair.

The UK Gambling Commission is highly active and takes action if they find a casino is failing in standards. They have a rigorous License Conditions and Codes of Practice that all operators must comply with.

To protect customers, they look at advertising, protecting young people, improved security, and a host of other measures.

Malta Gaming Authority

The Malta Gaming Authority is one of the best-known and most reputable licensing commissions. It provides online gambling licenses internationally and is used by many top platforms that want to appeal to a worldwide audience.

This authority has a host of regulations that operators must comply with. It actively enforces these regulations and holds the operators accountable if any discrepancies arise. Some of the regulations relate to player protection. For example, operators must ensure that all terms and conditions are fair and easy to understand.

Aside from regulations, the MGA also ensures online casinos abide by legal frameworks for gambling in Malta like the 2018 Gaming Act.

Spelinspektionen (Sweden)

Spelinspektionen is the premier licensing commission in Sweden. It has a great reputation and operators with a license from the Spelinspektionen must comply with strict standards and codes of practice.

Casinos with this license must promote responsible gambling. Also, they must provide maximum deposit limits of no more than 5,000 SEK per week. It also ensures that operators have RNG systems in place to provide fair winning chances to customers.

Gibraltar Licensing Authority

The Gibraltar Licensing Authority is another organization held with high esteem in the online casino industry. It offers international licenses and has a strict set of regulations that operators must comply with.

To ensure ethical business practices, the GLA provides advertising guidelines and a host of other requirements. For example, operators must always have finance available to cover all pay-outs. Also, operators must provide annual accounts for review.

It also ensures that all operators comply with laws set out in the Gambling Act 2005. Finally, online casinos must have their games tested by a third-party auditing company such as eCOGRA or iTech Labs to ensure fair RNG systems.

Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC)

The AGCC is another British-based licensing commission in the Channel Islands. It has a solid reputation and businesses operate here due to the 0% taxation rates and ability to appeal to an international customer base.

As with other licensing commissions, the AGCC ensures that operators abide by gambling laws in Alderney. These include The 1999 Alderney Gambling Law and the Alderney eGaming Ordinance of 2009.

This commission also performs a full assessment and audit of operators to ensure they are fit for business and to protect customers. This includes reviewing marketing strategies, investigating customer complaints, and assessing fairness and gambling systems.

Curacao eGaming Authority

The Curacao eGaming Authority is excellent for operators, but the validity of its licenses is often questioned. For operators, the low tax rates and license fees are attractive. Obtaining a license is also much easier than through other commissions.

As a result, the reputation of authority is often tarnished. Any operator can easily obtain a license and the vetting process isn’t the best. Also, the Curacao eGaming Authority doesn’t intervene in disputes which have resulted in many dissatisfied customers.

There is of course plenty of operators who have excellent casinos, but a license from this authority should always be treated with caution.

Kahnawake Gaming Commission

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission was formed in 1999 and has a decent reputation. It is well-known for addressing customer complaints and acting against disputes.

It is an attractive licensing option for casinos as it has minimal taxation and operators can gain an international license. To protect customers, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission ensures operators comply with gambling laws in Quebec, Canada.

Also, it forces operators to include various protection measures, such as a player option to limit their playing time. Casinos with a Kahnawake Gaming license must also not have unfair terms and conditions for promotions and wagers.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is somewhat of an anomaly in casino licensing. This is a popular country for online casinos to base their operations from. However, there is no central licensing authority. To obtain a gambling license in Costa Rica, you simply have to pay for a license fee from the Costa Rican government.

This gives you an idea of the quality and legitimacy of casinos that obtain a license here. There are essentially no regulations or oversight – online casino operators can run their platform as they wish.

As a result, casinos licensed in Costa Rica usually have a poor reputation – simply because of the lack of regulation and oversight.

Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board

The Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board is the provincial licensing commission for the Western Cape in South Africa. It is one of the most popular authorities for online gambling in the country.

It has a decent reputation and uses a myriad of procedures to ensure operators comply with the law and give customers a fair gambling experience. It enforces a range of national and provincial gambling laws including The 2004 National Gambling Act, and the Western Cape Eighteenth Gambling and Racing Amendment Act, 2013.

Also, it has a host of rules that casinos must comply with as a part of their licensing agreement. This includes advertising standards, support of responsible gambling, and regular submission of content for auditing.

Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission

Although part of the UK, the Isle of Man has its own licensing commission. The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission has a good reputation and offers long-term licenses and low tax rates for gambling companies.

This commission actively monitors licensed operators for compliance, and it also offers game testing for RNG processes. A key feature of this authority is that it requires operators to keep customer funds in a separate account. This ensures customer cash is kept safe, regardless of website failure or security breaches.

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