Regulatory Bodies and Licensing
Regulations and licensing were put in place to ensure that casinos follow procedures when it comes to gambling. This includes fair, random and safe gaming for all players. Both online and land-based casinos need to develop trust amongst their customers as money is being exchanged. That said, players at online casinos need trust the casino and the games they play as they have to fully accept that the results are fair and random 100% of the time. While land-based casinos are always operated by big corporations with huge financial backing, the reputation and money behind online casinos are often blurred. This has resulted in the need for regulation and licensing bodies to step in and oversee the entire process.
There are several jurisdictions around the world that feature governing bodies that monitor the safety, fairness and random play of an online casino, with new ones being established as well. Their other responsibility is to ensure all funds and transferred safely and paid in a timely fashion. Since having a gaming license is so important to the integrity of a gaming platform, there are few websites that proceed with its services without applying the appropriate license. If you do come across an online casino that does not have a gaming license from one of the jurisdictions, it is recommended that players avoid the online casino.
Many of these licensing jurisdictions are located in the UK and Europe, although there are governing bodies in many countries around the world. While there are many jurisdictions offering gaming licenses, here we offer a list of some of the most reputable in Europe.
UK Gambling Commission
The UK Gambling Commission was founded by the Gambling Act of 2005, taking over from the Gaming Board for Great Britain in 2007. This governing body regulates different remote betting options in the UK, although sports betting is handled by a separate body. The UKGC also regulates online betting from remote platforms like online casinos and gambling sites. A UKGC license is quite prestigious as it requires all online casino platforms wanting to accept UK players to obtain the license for operating legitimately.
Malta Gaming Authority
The Malta Gaming Authority located in the Mediterranean Sea, oversees a number of gaming operators, some of which are the most renowned in the business. Online casinos based in Malta can enjoy a number of benefits, including a generous tax scheme, friendly local financial institutions, and the freedom to accept players from anywhere in the world.
Once known as the Lotteries and Gaming Authority, the governing body had a name change in 2015 along with other changes following controversies about how the body was handling several poker and betting sites. Since then, the MGA has rebuilt the trust of players and is now a premier regulatory body in Europe.
The regulatory body ARJEL by the full name of Authorite de regulation des jeux en ligne, was formed in France in 2010 as bid regulate the industry in the region. ARJEL issues licenses to operators wanting to tap into the French gaming market, a major remote gaming market in Europe.
The ARJEL has come under fire for the way it handles some issues, most notably the high tax, which has alienated many operators and their ability to offer players promotions and affordable pricing options. In addition to this, the strict regulations of the body also prevent betting sites from allowing players to compete against other players from outside the region.
Spanish Gaming Commission
Spain became a major European nation to offer gambling licenses as early as 2012. The aim of the Comision Nacional del Juego or Spanish Gaming Commission was to create a regulated online gambling platform that was unable to compete or accept players from other nations. The Spanish Commission is one of the newest governing bodies to issue online gaming licenses and have contributed to growing the industry in the country. That said, the self-contained nature of these licenses means that there are limitations when it comes to scope of sites operating under the Commission, while high tax has also restricted the growth of operators applying for these licenses.
The Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato, or AAMS for short, is the official regulatory body of Italy. The authority was created with the aim of regulating the gaming industry in Italy and modernising the country’s outdated gambling laws. The AAMS approve licenses for online casinos and betting sites offering several betting options, including casino games, horse racing, sports betting and bingo. The body is quite strict in its criteria for qualification, including proof that the operator has managed and run large-scale games and betting options within Europe. They must also be based in Europe and function in a secure and stable way. Like many other countries in the Europe, the license is self-contained, preventing players to compete with those from outside the nation while high taxes and high fees continue to be an issue.
Gibraltar Licensing Authority
Gibraltar may seem like an unlikely base for operating online casinos, but it has become a hub for those looking to operate an online betting platform. The Gibraltar Licensing Authority now regulates remote betting companies based on the Gambling Act of 2005. A Gambling Commissioner oversees the major operators, ensuring they meet all the regulations and maintain the Commission’s high standards and reputation.
Presently, over 30 operators boast a Gibraltar license, making this gaming authority one of the most popular in the industry. This is due to many reasons, including low taxes and the ability to accept customers from all over the world.
Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission
The Gambling Supervision Commission was established in 1962, making it one of the oldest regulatory bodies operating today. It is in charge of regulating all gambling on the Isle of Man, including online gambling and remote betting. The licensing authority operates similar to Gibraltar, issuing licenses, low fees and low taxes to operators in many parts of the world. That means that while the Commission does not limit operators from accepting players from all over the world, they may request a concise explanation why they think they can successfully target certain markets.
Alderney Gambling Control Commission
The Alderney Gambling Control Commission was founded in 2000 and offers operators based in the British Isles the chance to provide online gambling services within the region and abroad. This is one of the most popular licenses for online casinos as it offers a 0% tax, low annual fees and allows remote sites to accept players from all over the world. Despite its solid reputation, no regulating body is without criticism. The AGCC received some negative press in the past due to the way it handled certain payment discrepancies at Full Tilt Poker, a renowned online gambling site. The gambling authority eventually retracted its operating license, which caused the site to completely and permanently shutdown.
Jersey Gambling Commission
Located between England and France, is a small island that has the Jersey Gambling Commission oversee to gambling licenses since the year 2010. The governing body issues licenses to various firms in the industry. This includes casino operators, testing labs and software providers. Jersey is not as popular and renowned as some of the other jurisdictions on this list, although low tax rates and limited restrictions mean it is becoming an attractive option for many operators in Europe.
Belgian Gambling Commission
Online betting in Belgium is a legal activity, although the Belgian Gambling Commission does not openly state exactly who can offer real money games. The regulator is known for its long list of blacklisted groups that is not allowed to offer online gambling or betting country, which includes over 100 websites. Operators in the region who do not obtain this license can only provide gaming to players in the country on website only accessible to Belgium players. High taxes have also deterred many operators, although some see it as a benefit to be able to tap into this small but highly lucrative gaming market in Europe.
Danish Gambling Authority
The Danish Gambling Commission was established in 2012, issuing licenses from online casino operators in the region. Before the creation of this authority, all online betting was managed by Danske Spil, a state-sponsored company that held the monopoly of all betting in the country. These days, the DGA accepts license applications from all online casinos operating in Denmark. That said, not many operators have applied for this license as it offers access to players based only in Denmark. Additionally, the high tax rate makes operators wary of applying for this license, making it difficult to tap into this small market.