Online Gambling Licensing Jurisdictions

One of the requirements for us to list and rate online gambling sites is for the site to be officially licensed in a relevant jurisdiction. Our aim is to provide our readers with comprehensive information on the best gambling sites available and whether you are looking for a sports betting site, or somewhere to play casino games or poker, it is important to know we only recommend places that are fully licensed and a safe place to deposit your money.

Legal Online Gambling Sites

What Is A Gambling Jurisdiction?

The internet has a global audience, but there is no such thing as “international betting law” that online gambling sites are bound by. As a result, different areas of the world have their own legislation that enables them to provide a license to gambling websites and operators. Any country, province or state that offers these licenses to online gambling sites is considered a gambling jurisdiction. Within each jurisdiction there will usually be an organisation that is responsible for issuing these licenses, typically referred to as the licensing authority or gambling authority.

What Is A Gambling License?

For any online gambling website to provide their customers with betting services legally – whether it is sports betting, poker or casino – they must have been issued with a gambling license. This license will usually be provided by the licensing authority of the gambling jurisdiction where the operator of the gambling site is based. Often, an organisation that owns betting or gambling sites will decide where to locate their operation based on the licensing rules and regulations of the relevant gambling jurisdiction.

The primary purpose of this gambling license is simply to allow the operator to provide their online gambling services lawfully. From a customer perspective it is important that an online gambling site is properly licensed to provide peace of mind and security. Although not always the case, most licensing authorities also regulate their licensees and provide an arbitration service. Should a dispute arise between the operator of an online gambling site and a customer, a fair and satisfactory resolution is far more likely in a fully regulated environment.

How Do Internet Gambling Jurisdictions Differ?

Legislation can differ quite significantly from one gambling jurisdiction to the next. As a result, the requirements to obtain a license will also vary. Typically, any operator offering online gambling will have to prove that their gambling site is fair and that customer deposits are safe. A licensing fee will certainly apply and taxes usually form part of the arrangement. Certain jurisdictions are stricter than others and may require high standards of customer support, regular software testing and periodic audits.

Some operators will use different jurisdictions for different divisions of their online gambling sites. For example, one of our recommended gambling sites - Bet365 - has their casino and poker operations licensed in Gibraltar and their sports betting site licensed in the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom is generally thought to be one of the strictest jurisdictions for licensing and auditing online gambling websites - regulated by The Gambling Commission which was brought into power by the Gambling Act of 2005. The UK is also one of the few gambling jurisdictions to allow licensees to promote their online gambling sites within their own jurisdiction. In the jurisdiction of Costa Rica for example – one of the least regulated gambling jurisdictions – online gambling sites can offer their services pretty much all over the world, but not to residents of Costa Rica.

The Gambling Commission also controls the United Kingdom white-list – any online gambling site wishing to offer their services to residents of the UK must be licensed within a gambling jurisdiction that appears on the UK white-list. Some of the largest and best known licensing authorities appear on this white-list, including the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) of Malta.

Malta has been licensing online gambling sites since the turn of the century and currently has over 500 operations licensed by their LGA. Like a number of licensing authorities, the LGA of Malta actually offer a number of different licenses, divided into classes. A certain class of license is required to provide online games of chance – such as traditional casino games – while an online betting site offering fixed odds would need a different class. Operating an online poker site would mean another class of license.

The majority of licensing authorities do not allow their licensees to offer online gambling services to residents of the US. There are exceptions to this, a notable one being the Curacao Licensing Authority. Based in the gambling jurisdiction of the Netherland Antilles and widely considered to be one of the longest standing licensing authorities, they provide the licenses to over 300 online gambling sites – including Lucky Red Casino, one of our recommendations.

In summary in order to feel comfortable playing or betting at an online gambling site, it is useful to know they are licensed to legally offer their services to you. By choosing to use one of the online gambling sites recommended by us, you can be sure this is the case.

Other Online Gambling Licensing Jurisdictions include: