How to Obtain Offshore Gambling License for Online Casino
The first step towards starting an online casino which operates with real money is obtaining an online casino license. The products that we sell might require a casino/gambling license depending on the jurisdiction in which you are located. Our company does not offer any casino/gambling licenses, but we have set up a very detailed guide to help you with this process.
Obtaining a casino/gambling license is one of the most important steps towards entering the online casino scene, in order to gain the credibility of your players and to avoid any problems with the international law.
The easiest way to do this would be to get in touch with a lawyer specialized in online gaming from your country, so you can get guidance from a professional who is accustomed with all the legal aspects of obtaining an online gaming license. Many jurisdictions around the world have designated specific laws regarding the online gaming industry, and many of these only allow online casinos which operate with a local gaming license.
An alternative to this would be to create an offshore company in countries like Malta, Cyprus, Costa Rica, Panama and obtain a gambling license there. The low prices available in these countries have made them gain the reputation of "the heart of casino operations". Yearly license costs can go as low as 20,000 EUR.
What is a Gambling License?
A gambling license is a certificate of authority issued by a regulatory agency, typically referred to as a gambling control board. Gambling licenses are usually required by organizations that offer any type of games of chance or those that involve wagering, such as roulette, poker, slots, pari-mutuel racing and lotteries, among a few. The requirements for the issuance of a gambling license might vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Requirements for Licensing
It is one of the primarily roles of a gambling control board to issue a license. The issuance of a license is based on those standards that are broadly described in the controlling act that grants authority to the gambling control board, which are further defined and explained by the rules and regulations promulgated by the gambling control board.
Some of the requirements that may be imposed on organizations that desire to conduct a gambling business within a state or other jurisdiction include meeting certain standards of good character, honesty and integrity, disclosing detailed financial and organizational information about the gambling establishment, its owners, partners and other associated persons and providing employment and criminal information on certain individuals within the organization.
The requirements and standards that must be met to obtain a license to conduct a gambling business are comparable to those standards that financial institutions also have to accomplish, such as banks and insurance companies. The purpose of these stringent requirements is to discourage application by certain persons who may be engaged in organized criminal enterprises or may lack the required experience or financial stability to properly engage in the operation of a gambling enterprise.
Many gambling control boards have undertaken a process of allowing for multijurisdictional application as a way to ease and streamline the process of registration for establishments doing business across several state lines.
Before applying for a casino license
There are several steps that online casino operators must follow before applying for an online casino license. Obtaining a casino license can sometimes be time-consuming, and being familiarized with all the legal aspects will drastically decrease the time frame between applying for and actually obtaining an online casino license.
- Find all information about the gambling jurisdiction, requirements, gambling license costs, taxes and application processing time.
- Find out how to start a locally registered company which allows you to run an online casino.
- Be ready to prepare all personal documents required, including bank reference letter, certificate of no criminal record, passport copies and other documents which could already be listed on the gambling commission’s website.
- Find out if your online gaming provider offers games and software which comply with the local requirements of the jurisdiction, including RNG, software functionality and more.
The simple solution
Companies like Slogold, CapStone Group and FastOffshore.com provide a way to accomplish the licensing and registration of a gambling entity. They can offer ways to obtain licensure in offshore jurisdictions at a low cost, as well as conduct any necessary research and other legal and compliance work that is required by a jurisdictional gambling control board. This type of assistance may provide a benefit for the gambling organization that wishes to conduct business in certain jurisdictions and lack the manpower or expertise to navigate the laws, rules and regulations within.
Licensing a gambling enterprise offshore requires the creation of a company for the service of process, billing and payments and getting that entity licensed.
Top Offshore Casino Options
There are certain regions around the world which have specific legislation in place, that allows companies to operate online gaming sites. These regions are called online gaming jurisdictions, and their authorities are the ones you need to contact if you want to open an online casino.
If you decide to start a gaming company that offers services over the internet, it is important to familiarize yourself with the legal aspects that apply in the country where you want to start your business.
If the legal practices allow you, an interesting and widely-used solution is opening an offshore online casino. There are multiple jurisdictions where you can open an offshore company, and operate your online gaming site with a license obtained from their licensing authorities.
Here are some of the most well-known jurisdictions where you can obtain an online gaming license and start an offshore casino:
NAME: COSTA RICA ONLINE GAMING COMPANY
INITIAL SETUP COSTS: $3,800
ANNUAL FEE (STARTING FROM 2nd year): $1,150
TIME REQUIRED TO OBTAIN LICENSE: 2-3 weeks
OTHER DETAILS: includes registered agent & registered office fees in Costa Rica and Government maintenance fees in Costa Rica
Currently there is no governmental or regulatory framework governing online gaming in Costa Rica, with no official gambling license solution existing. Businesses and operations related to online casinos in Costa Rica are not regulated or supervised. Like so, you cannot obtain an online gambling license from the Government.
Therefore, since there is no authority to regulate the local gambling industry, operators can open an online casino using a gambling license alternative from the Costa Rica Online Gaming Company. To start an online gaming site in Costa Rica, you would need to open a Costa Rica corporation, with affordable costs and fees, with basic due diligence required and all nationalities accepted as directors or owners.
In our opinion, opening an online casino in Costa Rica can be beneficial in terms of costs, but since the industry is not regulated in any way, online gaming sites which operate in Costa Rica tend to have a bad reputation. Since the activity is completely uncontrollable, many operators have resorted to laundering money or using pirated software. Even so, many operators decide to work with a dedicated company who can help with opening a corporation in Costa Rica and an online casino in the shortest amount of time.
You can start your online casino with a Costa Rica license by contacting Fast Offshore
NAME: Curacao Gambling Commission
INITIAL SETUP COSTS: $19,850
ANNUAL FEE (STARTING FROM 2nd year): $17,810
TIME REQUIRED TO OBTAIN LICENSE: 8-12 weeks*
OTHER DETAILS: a deposit of around $35,000 is required and payable to the country's Department of Justice for the purpose of investigating the licensing application
*The fees specified above are issued by fastoffshore.com.
The nation of Curacao has been active in issuing offshore gambling licenses since 1996 and is considered to be one of the most stable providers of licensing services for gambling enterprises. Curacao offers a single license type, covering all games of chance and skill, as well as sports betting bookmakers.
Gambling enterprises wishing to be licensed in Curacao must be registered with the Netherlands Antilles Chamber of Commerce and designated as either an on or offshore legal entity.
Prior to the issuance of any license, a deposit of around $35,000 is required and payable to the country's Department of Justice for investigating the licensing application. Gambling enterprises pay a monthly fee of $5,000 that is charged for a period of two years. The fee can be renegotiated at the end of this two-year period.
NAME: Gibraltar Licensing Authority
INITIAL SETUP COSTS: None
ANNUAL FEE (STARTING FROM 2nd year): Gaming tax is levied at 1% of turnover for bookmakers with the tax capped at £425,000. Minimum gaming tax payable is £85,000 per year.
TIME REQUIRED TO OBTAIN LICENSE: The consideration of applications can take several months, as a result of the extensive due diligence carried out.
OTHER DETAILS: Licenses are renewable annually on the payment of a fee of £2,000.
Operators who want to obtain a remote gambling license from Gibraltar must contact the local Licensing Authority to apply for an online gaming license. According to the gambling commission’s website, the licensing process can prove to be difficult, as the licensing authority only considers licensing blue chip companies with a proven track record in gambling, with good financial standing and a realistic business plan.
The licensing authority currently requires detailed documentation along with a business plan, details and references on owners and personnel, evidence of previous licenses, expertise in offshore gaming and financial standing.
For fixed odds betting, the gaming tax in Gibraltar is currently set at 1% of the turnover up to £42,500,000 with the gaming tax capped at £425,000 per year, with a minimum tax payable of £85,000 per year. For internet casinos, the gaming tax is levied at 1% of the gaming yield of gross profit.
Licenses are renewable annually for a fee of £2,000 if all terms and conditions on the license are fully satisfied.
Operators who want to apply for an online casino license in Gibraltar must take several actions regarding customer privacy and data protection, and must ensure that all advertising and promotion methods will exclusively target adult players and will be truthful and accurate, while also respecting the anti-money-laundering code of practice.
Another aspect that operators should consider when applying for a Gibraltar license is that all the products they will offer must be tested and certified in compliance with Gibraltar’s regulatory model and standards. Like so, the games that will appear on your casino website must be approved by an independent test house, such as iTech Labs or BMM Compliance.
You can find more information about how to open your online casino with a Gibraltar license here.
NAME: PAGCOR (The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation)
INITIAL SETUP COSTS: Application and processing fee of $50,000 for online casinos, and $40,000 for sports betting, and another $200,000 and $150,000, respectively, upon approval of the license.
ANNUAL FEE (STARTING FROM 2nd year): $10,000/month per table, for RNG-based games $100/month per player, and $40,000 for sports betting, plus $20,000 to cover probity and site visit, for accreditation as POGO gaming agent.
TIME REQUIRED TO OBTAIN LICENSE: depends on a range of factors.
OTHER DETAILS: The corporation has recently been forced to impose a license limit for gaming operators. The cap is 50 licenses, and 40 have already been granted.
The authority which regulates the online gaming industry in Philippines and issues online casino licenses is called the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, or PAGCOR. PAGCOR issues licenses for offshore-based operators, for e-casinos (including table games, slots, other card, wheel and dice games, skill games, arcade-type games) and sports betting.
Operators who want to start an offshore casino in Philippines must open a business organized in the Philippines or any other foreign country (with the condition to have a Philippines offshore gaming agent). The applicant should also comply with the regulator’s licensing process and requirements, including a probity check conducted by a third party, a review of the business plan and a review of the gaming system, which must be certified by a PAGCOR accredited gaming lab.
The fees for an online gaming license in the Philippines consist of an application and processing fee of $50,000 for e-casinos, and $40,000 for sports betting. Applicants must also pay the corresponding fees after the license approval, which are $200,000 for e-casino and $150,000 for sports betting. Gaming taxes also apply.
Licensees are first allowed to pay fixed gaming taxes for the initial six-month period of implementation, for live studio set-up, $10,000/month per table, for RNG-based games $100/month per player, and $40,000 for sports betting. The applicant should also pay $20,000 to cover probity and site visit, for accreditation as POGO gaming agent.
The Philippines online gaming license can be costly, but it can prove to be unique and highly valuable, because it is the only license available to companies who want to start an online gaming business in the lucrative Asian gaming market. The corporation has recently been forced to impose a 50-license limit on its attractive licenses, despite receiving more than a hundred applications from gaming providers. All information about the Philippine license can be found here.
Isle of Man
NAME: Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission
INITIAL SETUP COSTS: application fee of £5,000
ANNUAL FEE (STARTING FROM 2nd year): £35,000 per year, runs for five years
TIME REQUIRED TO OBTAIN LICENSE: depends on a range of factors
OTHER DETAILS: 0% corporation tax and competitive gaming duty (based on profits), ranging from 0.1%- 1.5%.
Excellent reputation for targeting the Asian gaming market
In the Isle of Man, the licensing authority is called the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. If you want to establish your online casino business in the Isle of Man, you should satisfy a few criteria, including establishing a Manx company, having at least 2 local, individual directors, appointing at least one resident designated official or an operations manager, registering players on Isle of Man servers or operating under a local network services license, while also locating the gambling and trading accounts in a bank in the Isle of Man.
The legislation that regulates the online gambling industry in the Isle of Man is the Online Gambling Regulation Act of 2001, or OGRA. The application starts with completing an application form and paying the application fee of £5,000, followed by an inspection process during which the inspectorate and the designated official or operations manager discuss the business model. The OGRA license which permits gambling activities costs £35,000 per year and runs for five years.
The Gambling Supervision Commission will perform several analyses during these five years, including analysis of the financial accounts, analysis of ownership, analysis of game rules and technical checks on games, analysis of transaction recording for games, and more.
IMPORTANT: Isle of Man has developed an excellent reputation for targeting the Asian market.
You can find all required information about how to open an offshore casino with an Isle of Man license here.
NAME: Malta Gaming Authority
INITIAL SETUP COSTS: application fee for new license of €2,330
ANNUAL FEE (STARTING FROM 2nd year):
- yearly license fees – €8,500
- renewal fees – €1,500
- approval fees for Transfer or Assignment of License – €1,500
- administrative fees (where applicable)
TIME REQUIRED TO OBTAIN LICENSE: approximately between 12 to 16 weeks
OTHER DETAILS: The Gaming Tax differs from one Class to another. The applicable tax rates can be found in the Fourth Schedule of the Regulations, which may be found in the Remote Gaming Regulations on the Authority’s website here.
Malta is known for its dynamic and fast-growing gaming sector. If you want to open an offshore casino in Malta, you should know that the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) issues licenses under the provisions of the Remote Gaming Regulations.
During the application process, the MGA tests the applicants to find out if they comply with a few criteria: the applicant must be fit and proper to conduct gaming business, must have the operational and statutory requirements to meet the obligations prescribed by law and policy, should be correctly prepared to develop a business strategy and should test and implement all technical aspects before opening the online casino.
The MGA issues 4 classes of gaming licenses – the Class 1 license has been designed for remote casino gaming, including casino-type games and online operators.
The costs of obtaining and owning a Malta casino license include: an application fee for new license of €2,330, a system review of €2,500, the license fee of €8,500, plus other approval and compliance fees. The compliance review is €3,500.
The MGA has clear procedures and prevention instruments regarding money laundering issues. The MGA claims to take affirmative steps to prevent money laundering and other suspicious transactions, the applicant being obliged to provide the MGA with the necessary due diligence documents of key officials, directors and shareholders. Players who make payments which are above the value of €2,330 should also be verified by the online casino operator.
You can find all information regarding obtaining a Malta casino license here.
NAME: Panama Gaming Control Board (Junta de Control de Juegos)
STARTUP COSTS: license fee of USD $40,000
ANNUAL FEE (STARTING FROM 2nd year): annual license fee of USD $20,000
TIME REQUIRED TO OBTAIN LICENSE: depends on a range of factors
OTHER DETAILS: Internet gaming companies domiciled in Panama enjoy complete tax exemptions.
The online gaming industry in Panama is supervised by the Panama Gaming Board. Operators who want to start an offshore casino in Panama need to request a casino license through a Panama attorney, and fulfill a series of requirements.
If you are looking to open an online casino in Panama, you should know that the laws here allow operators to be exempt of all taxes. As long as the income made from online gaming is from outside Panama, there are no taxes, including income tax, sales tax or VAT. More than that, offshore companies are not subject to foreign exchange control.
To start an online gaming site in Panama, operators must not have any criminal record and need to ensure that all software and games comply with the regulations of the Panama Internet Gaming License. Operators must also monitor game payouts and make sure that records of all transactions are available for inspection by the Government. More than that, all operators must comply with international money laundering regulations.
The Panama initial license fee costs $40,000, and the additional annual fee costs $20,000. The license lasts for 7 years.
Antigua and Barbuda
NAME: Financial Services Regulatory Commission
Due Diligence $15,000
Interactive Gaming License Fee $100,000
Interactive Wagering License Fee $75,000
ANNUAL FEE (STARTING FROM 2nd year): Annual renewal fee for each license $5,000
TIME REQUIRED TO OBTAIN LICENSE: Decision will be granted after 60 days of receipt of requirements.
Reserve requirement of $100,000
Monitoring system fee – 1 license: $25,000; 2 licenses: $45,000
Obtaining a license in the twin-island Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda requires approval from the country's Financial Services Regulatory Commission and its Division of Gambling. The nation is the first jurisdiction to permit offshore licensing of gambling establishments, since 1994.
The licensing process encompasses 3 schedules and a non-refundable $15,000 to be submitted for conducting investigations, due diligence and assessments of the applicant. After 60 days, a decision will be granted by the Commission.
After the application has been approved, operators of establishments that maintain a primary server in the nation should pay an interactive gaming license fee of $100,000/interactive wagering license fee of $75,000 annually. The annual renewal fee for each license costs $5,000, and the key person license fees consist of $1,000 for the first year and $250 for the second year and there onwards.
There is also a reserve requirement of at least $100,000, acting as a security form for the benefit of players, to ensure that license holders obligations to players can be fulfilled. A monitoring system fee, $25,000 for one license and $45,000 for two licenses, per year, are also included.
NAME: Gaming Control Committee of Belize
INITIAL SETUP COSTS: $18,000 for 1 year
ANNUAL FEE (STARTING FROM 2nd year): to extend the license one should pay $10,000
TIME REQUIRED TO OBTAIN LICENSE: very fast procedure of getting the license: if all license legislation requirements are conducted, the license is issued within 24 hours
OTHER DETAILS: gaming license includes all gambling types for computers and other devices
Belize is a small English-speaking country in Central America which has started regulating the online gaming business and offering online casino licenses since 2000. The process of obtaining an online casino license by operators is controlled and regulated by the Gaming Control Committee of Belize. Gaming companies registered here are prohibited to take bets from Belize citizens. On the other hand, Belize is considered to be an interesting solution for offshore businesses, thanks to the profitable taxation policy.
To operate an online casino, you would have to obtain an online gambling license which costs $18,000 for 1 year, and $10,000 per year for extending the license. The annual license expires on March 31, despite the issue date.
The Belize jurisdiction has set up strict requirements for operators, including:
- the applicant must run an international company registered in Belize;
- applicants must provide their fingerprints;
- company founders who don’t stay in the country and are not citizens, should apply for citizenship;
- the company should make a deposit in the Central Bank of Belize to prevent possible debts;
- if funds on deposits run out, it must immediately be reported to the Gambling Commission.
NAME: Kahnawake Gaming Commission
INITIAL SETUP COSTS:
Application fee of $40,000;
Key Person License Application fee of $5,000 for each proposed key person.
ANNUAL FEE (STARTING FROM 2nd year):
Client Provider Authorization $20,000 per year
Key Person $1,000 per year
TIME REQUIRED TO OBTAIN LICENSE: 4-8 weeks (time to complete due diligence report)
OTHER DETAILS: -
The Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake is located in Quebec, Canada. It’s an Indian reserve that’s about 48.05 square kilometers. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is the regulatory authority which issues gaming licenses. Currently, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission issues four different types of licenses.
Operators who want to start an online casino in Kahnawake have the following license options:
- Interactive Gaming License (IGC)
- Client Provider Authorization (CPA)
- Secondary Client Provider Authorization (Secondary CPA)
- Key Person License (KPL)
You can read more about these license types at the official site of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.
To apply for a license with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, the applicant should pay an initial fee to the Commission. This fee is $40,000 for a Client Provider Authorization license. There’s also an application fee of $5,000 for each Key Person License. Both fees are refundable if the Commission rejects an application.
To ensure that players are treated fairly, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission requires operators to follow a set of guidelines which include:
- The company and persons that own and operate the interactive gaming site are of good character, honesty and integrity.
- The software (including the Random Number Generator, where applicable) and systems used by the interactive gaming site have been thoroughly tested to ensure accuracy and fairness.
The software and systems used by the interactive gaming site are comprehensively audited on an annual basis by at least one of the Commission’s Approved Agents.
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