Crucial licenses that allow online casinos to operate legally

  • The Malta Gaming Authority is one of the most well-known remote gaming license providers.
  • Curacao eGaming is popular among upstart casinos due to its low fees and lax requirements.
  • The UK Gambling Commission only provides operating licenses to websites based in the United Kingdom.
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There are hundreds of online casinos spread out across the internet, each offering a different selection of games and bonuses. While many of these sites will promise you the moon in order to sign up, very few take the time to let you know just how legitimate they really are.

Every single site which offers real money gambling of any kind is required to possess at least one license from a reputable licensing authority; this indicates that they have the financial means necessary to operate an online casino as well as the ability to provide fair games and treatments for problem gamblers. Failure to display one of these badges should be seen as an instant red flag; not only are unlicensed casinos illegal, but they’re also almost certainly scams.

In this article, we’re going to look at five of the most influential remote gaming license providers in the world today. Each group operates in slightly different ways, but all share the common goal of making the online casino industry safer and more enjoyable for both casinos and players alike.

Why Do Online Casinos Need Licenses?

Online casinos need licenses because they’re real businesses.

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When most people first start getting into the world of online gambling, they’re often shocked to learn that just about every facet of the industry is closely regulated by various government agencies around the world.

It makes sense once you think about it, though – even if an online casino is located on the other side of the world, you’re still giving them your hard-earned cash every time you make a deposit. If that company were to simply vanish with your money, it would understandably be a huge issue.

Licensing authorities act as a sort of quality control for the online casino marketplace. In order to obtain a license, a company must prove that they have the money needed to operate an online casino for the long haul. This means that even if things don’t go perfectly – a common situation in business, especially during that critical first year or two – they won’t be able to use your bankroll to cover their losses.

In addition, all licensed casinos are required to offer fair games. While this may seem like a no-brainer, there are a number of ways a casino can cheat you even if they don’t outright change the results of each spin or deal. By setting game rules and pay tables, casinos can greatly affect your chances of winning a particular hand or hitting a big jackpot. Licensed casinos aren’t allowed to do this in an effort to give themselves an unfair edge.

Finally, all good licensing authorities require their licensees to provide help for problem gamblers. This usually takes the form of self-exclusion programs and external resources that allow those in trouble to get the help they need before it’s too late.

In short, licensing organizations protect you, the consumer. When you play at a licensed casino, you can rest assured that your deposits will be safe and your games will be fair while knowing that there are resources available should you ever need them.

Top Casino Licensing Agencies

Below, we’ve listed five of the top casino licensing agencies in operation today. There are many more groups out there performing similar work, but these five are some of the most influential.

1. Malta Gaming Authority

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is one of the world’s most well-respected licensing bodies. Based in Europe, the MGA requires applicants to jump through a number of hoops in order to receive a license.

One reason the MGA is so popular is because their permissions are not limited to any single country. Whereas many other licenses are only valid within the issuing nation’s borders, the MGA license is recognized throughout the European Union and in many other nations around the world. This makes it a great choice for casino operators who want to serve a global clientele.

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To become licensed through the MGA, a prospective operator must pay an application fee of €3,500 ($4,2 Victory Poker Bonus Offers 2023 venturing out to play poker online. It costs $4,200 to . First, the applicant must pass an initial screening process known as an Operational Capacity Determination, which ensures that the company has the knowledge and experience necessary to run a proper online casino.

Assuming that goes well, the company will then undergo a Personal and Fit and Proper Test to ensure that all major management personnel are suitable to hold a key position within the company. Various financial disclosures are required, as the MGA wants to make sure the firm can afford to pay for the license on an annual basis (€8,607.75, to be exact). 

Once all that paperwork has been sent in and paid for, the actual license application process begins. Depending on the types of games the casino wants to offer, they may need several separate permits. These include:

  • Casino License – Allows the operation of virtual table games, slots, parlor games and other similar titles.
  • Remote Gaming License Type 1 – Allows the operation of casino games and sportsbooks via mobile devices.
  • Remote Gaming License Type 2 – Allows the operation of casino games and sportsbooks over the Internet.
  • E-Games License – Allows the operation of skill games.
  • Lotions & Competition License – Allows the sale of lottery tickets and similar chance-based items.
  • Real-World Event Betting License – Allows betting on real-world events using live commentators.

As you can see, there are plenty of options when building your ideal online gambling site. Many casinos choose to obtain multiple licenses in order to offer their customers a wide range of games, while others choose to focus on just one or two products.

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One thing to note is that the MGA does require their licensees to contribute to various scientific and responsible gaming studies. To that end, a small portion of your revenue may be taken away and used for research purposes. As far as taxes go, the €8,607.75 figure I quoted earlier is annual. This is not a yearly lump sum, but rather a flat rate tax based on revenue. The exact amount you’d pay is as follows:

  • 0% on revenues up to €25,000 ($31,215 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 .
  • 5.5% on revenues between €25,001 and €1 million ($1.2 million).
  • 19% on revenues between €1 million and €4 million ($4.7 victories poker bonus offerts 2023 .
  • 23% on revenues above €4 million.
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That’s significantly lower than most national income tax rates, which is one reason the MGA is such a popular choice.

2. United Kingdom Gambling Commission

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission is unique among the groups on this list in that they only grant licenses to operators based in the United Kingdom.

As you might expect, these licenses are mandatory for any gambling business that wants to operate within the UK. However, many companies choose to get licensed by the UKGC even if they’re based in another country: thanks to the UK’s worldwide reach, holding a UKGC license gives the appearance of legitimacy to customers all around the globe.

Unlike other groups, the UKGC doesn’t charge a set application fee. Instead, the organization says it will judge each application on a case-by-case basis and demand whatever fees it thinks are reasonable to offset its costs. According to the GC's website, however, most applications cost somewhere around £6,000 ($7,9 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 .

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There are four main types of licenses issued by the UKGC:

  • Non-remote – Allows a land-based business to operate without breaking UK gambling laws.
  • Remote – Allows an online business to operate without breaking UK gambling laws. Can be limited to certain types of activities.
  • Non-remote and limited – A combination of the first two options, limiting an operator to specific land-based activities within the UK.
  • Temporary – Good for one to six months, depending on the needs of the operator. Meant to be used during the setup phases of a new business.

While the basic non-remote license is free, all remote licenses cost £4,000 ($5,4 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 . Like the MGA, the UKGC uses a point-based system to determine the tax rate of their licensees.

There are three bands, or levels, of taxation.

  • Levels 1 & 2 – Gross games revenue of less than £500,000 ($681,270 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 .
  • Level 3 – Gross games revenue of greater than £500,000 ($681,270).
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Level 1 and 2 operators are exempt from paying taxes to the UKGC; currently, Level 3 operators pay 20% of their gross games revenue. This is set to drop to 15% in October of 2017, as is shown in the exchange rate of USD to GBP.

One interesting wrinkle to the way the UKGC does business is that they don't just license individual casinos and sportsbooks. Instead, a single license can cover an entire white label network, allowing multiple brands to operate under that umbrella.

For example, BetOnline and are both part of the Tigers VIP Group, which holds a single remote gambling license from the UKGC. Because of that, both brands are able to offer their products to customers in the United Kingdom.

3. Kahnawake Gaming Commission

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is an interesting animal.

Based on the Mohawk Reserve of Kahnawake, a Canadian aboriginal territory, the KGC has gained a reputation as a trusted licensor over the past few years. Due to a legal loophole, the Mohawk tribe is not subject to Canadian or provincial law while acting within the boundaries of the reservation, allowing the KGC to offer licenses that are both legal and affordable.

Unfortunately, in June of 2018, the Canadian Government passed Bill C-214, also known as the Budget Implement Act, 2018. Buried deep within the text of this law was language that revoked the exemption the Kahnawake Digital Lotstery Institute (LDLI), the entity that governs online gaming licensing from the Mohawk tribal council, had been granted back in 2005. This means that as of December 2018, the KGC is no longer able to offer licensing services to online gaming operators.

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Still, the KGC remains a powerful force in the online casino industry.

There are three primary license types offered by the KGC: Interim License, License, and Master License. An interim license is good for 90 days and is designed to get the licensing process started. Assuming everything goes well, that interim license will be replaced with a full license, which must be renewed annually and costs $25,000 ($19,879 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 .

A Master License costs $50,000 ($39,763 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 and allows a company to host multiple gaming servers. This is similar to the UKGC’s method of grouping brands together under a single license.

One benefit to obtaining a Kahnawake license is that Canada’s worldwide gambling law means KGC licensees are held to high standards regardless of where their customers are located. Also, much like the UKGC, the KGC uses a sliding scale when it comes to taxes.

Each licensee pays an inspection fee of $25,000 (currently $19,879 ) every five years, as well as an annual fee based on revenue. Those figures are as follows:

  • Up to $10,000 ($7,957 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 per year)
  • $10,000 - $50,000 ($7,957 - $39,763 ) per year)
  • Over $50,000 ($39,763 ) per year)
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This revenue is gross games revenue, not profit.

Another difference between the KGC and other licensing agencies is what they license specifically. While most other groups handle most types of online gambling, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission only licenses and regulates Internet gambling sites. That means that if a company wants to offer both online casinos and sports betting, they’ll need to seek out another licensing body to handle the sportsbook.

4. Gibraltar Licensing Authority

The HM Governor’s Office for Gibraltar – eGambling is yet another European licensing agency, although it differs from some of the others in that it only licenses gambling software operators instead of actual casinos and sportsbooks. What this means in practice is that while a company based in Gibraltar may or may not actually have a casino licensed there, any Gibraltar-based software firm that supplies casinos throughout the world must be licensed and regulated according to strict standards.

There are two types of licenses offered: Standard and Remote Heavyweight.

Companies looking to license games that are played solely within Gibraltar should apply for the former, while those wishing to supply software for use around the world need the latter. The distinction here is that games played within Gibraltar are subject to that country’s income tax, which ranges from 10% to 40%. (For more information, check .) Remote Heavyweight licenses are exempt from these taxes.

Initial application fees are steep when compared to many of the other licensing groups. At £63,200 ($84 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 , the Gibraltar Licensing Authority isn’t interested in handling small operations. Renewal fees are less onerous: after the fifth year of licensure, fees are assessed based on gross revenue.

  • Less than £2 million ($2,7 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 ) per year) – Renewal fee £2,900 ($3,8 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 .
  • £2 million - £10 million ($2,7 - $13,7 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 ) per year) – Renewal fee £8,500 ($11,4 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 .
  • Over £10 million ($13,7 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 ) per year) – Renewal fee £27,400 ($37,0 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 .
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One nice feature of the Gibraltar Licensing Authority is that they accept a variety of payment methods for their fees. While applying for a license, you can pay with a bank draft, sterling cheque, international money order, Visa or MasterCard.

5. Curacao eGaming

Curacao eGaming is an interesting group in that they specialize in licensing sportsbooks. While they do offer casino licenses as well, it is their simple and affordable sportsbetting approvals that make up the bulk of their portfolio.

There are three tiers of sports betting approvals, each of which requires progressively more stringent reporting capabilities. They are as follows:

  • Single Product – Allows a bookmaker to offer a single product line to customers in Curacao. No fees are charged, though bookmakers must pay a ZKF ($28.47 ) wire transfer fee when making payments to customers.
  • Master / Sub-Agent – Allows a master agent to offer multiple product lines, as well as sell approval to work under them to sub-agents. Once again, no licensing fees are assessed, but a ZKF ($28.47 ) wire transfer fee applies to customer withdrawals.
  • Network Operator – Allows an operator to offer multiple product lines to customers around the world. Fees vary, based on revenue.

It’s the Network Operator approval that is most useful to online sportsbooks, as it allows them to host numerous bookmakers while adhering to all Curacao regulations.

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Speaking of those fees, Curacao eGaming uses a steep scaling system. The exact amount you’d pay is a percentage of your expected gross revenue:

  • Less than €25,000 ($31,275 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 ) per year – 2% of gross revenues.
  • €25,001 - €100,000 ($128,992 - $478,911 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 ) per year – 2% of the first €25,000 plus 1.5% of remaining revenues.
  • €100,001 - €300,000 ($478,911 - $1,462,583 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 ) per year – 2% of the first €25,000, plus 1.5% of the next €75,000, plus 1% of any remaining revenue.
  • Over €300,000 ($1,462,583 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 ) per year – 2% of the first €25,000, plus 1.5% of the next €75,000, plus 1% of the next €200,000 (about $1.5 million ), plus 0.5% of any remaining revenue.

In addition to these licensing fees, all bookmakers must pay a monthly fee of €20,000 ($24,589 Victory Poker Bonus Offerts 2023 or the total amount of withdrawals made to customers plus €1000 ($1,245 ). This is to ensure that all customer funds are always available to pay out winning bets in a timely fashion.

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One thing to keep in mind is that a Curacao license is only valid outside of the Netherlands and Netherlands Antilles. Customers in those countries should be redirected to a Dutch or Dutch Antillean licensed casino or sportsbook.


What all of these licensing agencies have in common is a desire to protect you, the consumer. While there are countless honest and hardworking entrepreneurs in the gambling world, there are also a number of shady characters who would love nothing more than to take your money and run.

By ensuring that online gambling sites meet certain standards in regards to finance, fairness and player protection, these groups make the Internet a much safer place to play your favorite games.

Find out more out how important it is to play at licensed casinos by visiting our guide right now!


What does it mean for a casino to be licensed?

A licensed online casino is one that has paid for the right to operate in accordance with the laws of whichever jurisdiction has granted them said license. This lets you know that your deposits are safe, as the casino has proven that they have the money necessary to operate over the long term.

Can you trust an unlicensed casino?

We do not recommend playing at unlicensed online casinos. While there are certainly exceptions, most unlicensed casinos either aren't legitimately or don't have the capital necessary to honor your winnings.

How can I tell if my chosen casino has a legitimate license?

Most regulated online casinos will prominently display their license or licenses somewhere on their home page. If you can't find proof of licensing, we recommend taking your business elsewhere.

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Who regulates online casinos?

This is handled by a variety of different organizations around the world. Some nations oversee online gambling firms within their borders only, while others offer licenses that are valid worldwide. You can find a list of some of the biggest regulatory agencies right here.

Is it legal to open an online casino?

The legality of running an online casino varies from country to country. There are dozens of nations which regulate and license virtual gambling establishments.