Why Online Casino Licenses Actually Matter

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6 Minute Read
Online Casino License

Most online gamblers don’t pay a great deal of attention to the licensing behind mobile casinos. Instead, they’re focused on other elements, such as game selection, bonuses, and customer support.

With that said, online casinos could probably still draw players in without obtaining licenses. However, they still seek licensing for multiple reasons.

The following guide discusses why this element is so important to online gambling sites. It also covers why you should care about whether a casino is licensed.

How Online Casinos Benefit From Licensing

Real money gambling sites don’t drop five or even six figures on licenses just to throw money around. They figure to gain multiple benefits from obtaining a jurisdiction’s approval. Here are the main advantages that casinos get from licenses.

Operate Legally

Countries around the world differ on their stance regarding mobile gaming. Some nations completely outlaw the activity, some largely ignore the subject, and others have regulated markets.

The latter requires all online casinos that serve their citizens to hold licenses. They also feature regulatory bodies that accept applications and approve qualified operators.

Of course, nothing is stopping any gaming site from serving these markets. But the same online casinos will break the jurisdiction’s laws by not obtaining a license.

Base of Operations

Mobile casinos can’t just operate anywhere. In fact, their owners and executives could be quickly arrested and shut down by operating in a country or territory where doing so is illegal.

With that being said, every gaming site needs a home base. And they can plant their operations in one of the jurisdictions where they hold licensing. For example, an online casino with a Costa Rican license could choose to have their headquarters within this country.

An online casino that holds multiple licenses won’t need to put fully-functioning offices in each one. However, some jurisdictions do require them to at least house servers within its borders.

Instill Trust

You can’t blindly trust any mobile casino just because they have a license. But you can at least put more faith in such gaming sites.
After all, casinos must go through a process to become licensed. They also need to pay fees, which can sometimes be worth $100,000 or more.

Gaming sites don’t normally go through these processes if they’re not interested in serving a jurisdiction well. After all, they could have their license revoked by violating the terms of the agreement.


Some licensing jurisdictions are more prestigious than others. For example, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) heavily vets operators before approving them. Meanwhile, Curacao eGaming doesn’t put as much effort into screening casinos before okaying them.

You’ll do well to recognize the differences in various licensing bodies. For reference, here are some of the most prestigious gaming authorities:

  • AAMS (Italy)
  • Alderney Gambling Control Commission
  • ARJEL (France)
  • Belgian Gambling Commission
  • Danish Gambling Authority
  • Malta Gaming Authority
  • New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement
  • Spanish Gaming Commission
  • UK Gambling Commission

How Do Gaming Sites Obtain Licensing?

As covered earlier, online casinos need to go through a lengthy process before getting a license. Here are the main steps they need to complete before receiving a regulatory body’s approval.

Fill Out an Application

An application is the first major step towards obtaining a license. Operators need to complete required forms and submit them to the relevant gaming authority.

These applications can be lengthy and confusing. Therefore, many casino operators hire a local lawyer in whatever jurisdiction they’re dealing with. The lawyer, which will likely specialize in his field, can fill out the forms and ensure that they’re done correctly.

Meet the Qualifications

The application is only part of qualifying for an online casino license. Gaming sites also need to meet other various qualifications.

For example, a regulatory body may perform background checks on all key executives behind a casino. They want to ensure that the execs don’t have criminal histories.

Pay Fees

Every licensing jurisdiction varies on fees. Some gaming bodies, such as Gibraltar, charge high application fees worth $100,000. Others, like Costa Rica, merely tax casino operators as regular businesses.

The UKGC provides one more example. It doesn’t require a large application fee, but it does make operators pay a 15% tax on revenue.

Gaming site executives need to thoroughly understand the fees and taxes associated with any given jurisdiction. This way, they can choose countries or states where they can afford to operate.

What About Online Casinos That Don’t Have Licenses?

Some mobile casinos don’t bother going for a license anywhere. Instead, they set up shop in a place where they think that they’ll get away with operating.

The same online casinos typically only accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. After all, unlicensed casinos have difficulty forming relationships with traditional payment processors.

You don’t need to immediately discount such gaming sites. Some strictly Bitcoin casinos serve players well despite their lack of licensing.

On the other hand, you have to consider that the same casinos aren’t accountable to any regulatory body. They can treat customers however they want and get away with anything.

Poker Cards

I don’t personally recommend choosing unlicensed online casinos. If you do, though, then you should only deposit with established operators that have proven themselves over time.

You also need to do extra research to make sure that you can trust the casino. An unlicensed online casino needs to have years of high quality customer service records before I trust them. And even this is no guarantee that nothing will go wrong.

Of course this is good advice in any situation, but never put more money into an unlicensed casino than you can afford to lose. Your money might disappear instantly, even if you don’t lose it at the slot machines or at the gaming tables.

How Do You Know if Casinos Are Licensed?

You can determine if a mobile casino has a license through various methods. Here are the main ways to figure this out.

Check the Website

Many gaming sites display their licensing logos at the bottom of their homepages. With that said, you can navigate to the bottom of an online casino and check for a seal of approval.

Some online casinos have wrongly used licensing seals in the past. Generally speaking, though, gaming sites only place seals on their homepage if they actually hold the relevant license(s).

Visit a Regulatory Body’s Website

Reading licensing bodies’ websites isn’t the most entertaining activity. However, doing so can help you figure out which casinos have actually gained approval from a certain jurisdiction.

For example, the MGA lists all of its licensees on its website. You can check out this list to ensure that a certain casino indeed holds an MGA license.

This is a great step to take after you’ve seen a seal at the bottom of a gaming’s website. You can guarantee the authenticity out of it by browsing the regulatory body’s site.

Read Casino Reviews

Online casino reviews provide one more way to check on a gaming site’s licensing. Most providers do a good job of listing every license that a casino holds.

You may find this information near the top of a review. But other authors will include such info throughout the body of the review.

Of course, these details could be outdated so you should proceed with caution. In most cases, though, the licensing info will be valid and worth checking out.


Even after reading this post, you may not put licensing at the absolute top of your casino search criteria. However, you can definitely see why this subject is important.

At the very least, licensing shows that a casino has gone through the necessary steps to obtain a jurisdiction’s approval. It also indicates that the gaming site pays the necessary fees and taxes to maintain their license.

You can also use prestigious licenses to separate the cream of the crop. An online casino with UKGC and ARJEL approval, for example, has impressed some of the top regulators.

In summary, you should always check the bottom of a mobile casino’s website to see which license(s) they hold. You can find licensing information in casino reviews, too.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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