Operating a legitimate online casino anywhere in the world requires a valid gambling license. Not having one prominently displayed on its website is a clear red flag that will drive away most players and probably get you in a lot of trouble with the law.
What is an Online Casino License?
An online casino license basically states that the casino in question has undergone a screening process by the appropriate government body and is in compliance with all the rules and regulations regarding gambling in the host country. Some of those rules and regulations state that the casino is dedicated to fair play, responsible gambling, and treating their players in accordance with the law.
How to Get an Online Gambling License in India
The answer to this question depends on what kind of license does the operator wants and how much are they ready to spend. Once the type of casino is determined, the next step is to read up on the requirements for various licenses and choose the one that you want. Then you would have to bring your operation up to code and apply for it. After the waiting period, you will be issued your gambling license.
How Much Does an Online Casino License Cost?
Just like with any other sort of government license, the first question that comes to mind about casino license is “How much is this going to cost me?”. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer, as it depends on several factors, the most important being where you decide to get a license. One thing that all countries share is that you will have to pay an application fee upfront. Your application will be reviewed and if satisfactory, you will be issued a license. The waiting period varies but is usually between 20 and 30 days. Once a license is issued, you will have to pay an annual fee to renew it each year. Again, the sum depends on the location.
Which is the Cheapest Casino License?
Online gambling is a market like any other and you will often find participants trying to undercut their competition with lower prices. Except in this case the participants are various governments trying to attract business to their respective countries. The general rule is that the countries that have recently joined the fray offered the lowest licensing fees. At the moment, the government of Curacao has the lowest prices, so many of the new casinos, especially those opening in India, are registering there to benefit from lowered costs.
Off-Shore Gambling Licenses
Many off-shore locations discovered that issuing online gambling licenses is a simple, yet effective way of creating additional budget revenue. These licenses are intended for casinos that want to operate on unregulated markets, which are markets that have no laws about gambling. India is considered an unregulated market.
Indian casinos mostly use these off-shore locations for their licenses, mainly because the costs are lower compared to more established destinations. The majority of online casinos operating in India are registered in curacao, while some also use Malta.
The tiny island of Malta is one of the oldest gambling havens in the world. Licenses are handled by the Malta Gaming Authority, a government agency in existence since the early 2000s. It is one of the most trusted gambling regulatory bodies in the business, and many prestigious casinos are registered with them. However, that comes with a price, as it is also one of the costliest. Class 1 license will set you back €100,000, not to mention a lengthy approval process. Compliance audits are frequent and merciless. People who work at the Malta Gaming Authority take their job seriously and will leave no stones unturned in their pursuit to make sure everything is in order with any casino applying to operate their license.
Gibraltar is another veteran of regulated online gambling. The Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Commission is among the topmost trusted agencies in the world when it comes to regulating gambling. Their reputation is a well-earned one, but it comes at a hefty price. Just applying for the license will cost you between $30,000 and $70,000, depending on what types of casino games you are hosting and how is your company structured. The verification period can take up to 6 months. Once you get the license, it is valid for five years, but you have to pay an annual fee of $28,000.
A relative newcomer to the world of online gaming, Curacao boasts the cheapest licenses in the business. It is also one of the easiest to get, as the waiting period is the shortest. The way the license is structured offers many advantages, as a company can get a master license and register multiple casinos with sublicenses, which are even easier to get. The application costs just €2,000 and it will take just six weeks to get approved. This is why many smaller brands operate out of Curacao, as the complete cost of the procedure is much lower compared to some other locations. The licenses are issued by the Curacao eGaming Authority, established in 2001. One thing that is a major drawback to their reputation is that they do not offer any mediation in disputes between casinos and players.
Isle of Man
This small island just off the coast of Great Britain was for years the favorite destination for registering online casinos from the United Kingdom, thanks to its status as a tax haven. That proximity is a two-edged sword, though, as the regulation are quite strict and enforced to the letter. That makes the Isle of Man gambling authority one of the most respected in the industry. The application for the Isle of Man gambling license cost €5000. The approval process lasts between 10 and 12 weeks and the annual fee for renewing the license is €35,000.
Panama is a favorite location for registering online casinos that focus on the United States market, due to its proximity. Panama joined online gambling in 2001, but the first gambling license was issued in 2003. The fact that there is no tax on online gambling income makes it quite popular for large operators. However, due to the country’s strict anti-money laundering laws, everything has to be done by the book. To compensate for the lack of taxes, Panama has set a high price on its licenses. Just getting the license will cost you $40,000, plus you have to pay $20,000 each year for the renewal fee.
Antigua and Barbuda
When Antigua and Barbuda started issuing gambling licenses in 1994, most people haven’t even heard of the term online gambling. As one of the oldest licensing bodies in the world, Antigua and Barbuda mostly cater to the North American markets, namely the United States and Canada.
Antigua and Barbuda put heavy emphasis on combating gambling addiction and require all casinos operating under its license to do the same. Applying for Antigua and Barbuda online gambling license costs $15,000 and $25,000 for annual renewal.
While not an off-shore location strictly speaking, as it is a part of Canada’s main landmass, Kahnawake functions as one thanks to its status of Mohawk Territory. It is also one of the oldest online gambling regulatory bodies, having been founded in 1999. Since they impose no tax on casinos operating under their license, Kahnawake is a very popular destination for North American online casinos. In fact, up until recently, it was the most popular registration address for the United States casinos. Recently, however, newcomers have started chipping at its advantage and taking away a large share of Kahnawake’s business.
Costa Rica is a bit of a strange case here, due to the simple fact that Costa Rica doesn’t issue gambling licenses. Anyone can open a casino without any kind of permit whatsoever. This may sound strange, especially in the context of this article, but it makes Costa Rica an ideal place for creating and growing an online casino. However, once it is ready to expand and starts operating outside the Costa Rican borders, it is highly recommendable to obtain a license.
Regulated Gambling licenses
Some countries have their own regulatory bodies and don’t accept all licenses issued by the off-shore location. India isn’t one of them and you don’t have to have a local license to operate. However, if you want your casino to be able to operate in these countries, you must have their license or one issued with a regulatory body they recognize. You will also have to pay taxes to those countries. These licenses are among the strictest on the market and are heavily focused on players’ protection.
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) was founded in 2007, although gambling regulatory bodies have existed since the 1960s in the United Kingdom. The UKGC is responsible for enforcing gambling laws, issuing licenses to all casinos operating in the country, and monitoring them.
Danish Gambling Authority was founded in 2017 by the new law, which also proscribed that all casinos operating in the country must obtain a valid license. It is not cheap, though, with a price tag of €38,400.
Online casinos are a recent addition to Germany. Before the latest changes, only sports betting was allowed by the state. Only last year did the government pass the law allowing other forms of gambling. At the same time, the procedure for obtaining a gambling license was defined and the first ones were issued in 2021.
Which is the Best License for an Indian Casino Operator?
Since India is an unregulated market, any off-shore license allows online casino operations. The Malta gambling license seems like the best solution, but it is also the most expensive one. That is why most Indian online casinos are registered under the Curacao license.