When it comes to gambling – both on, and offline – almost all countries and jurisdictions have developed strict and enforceable legislation, designed to protect players, and stop rouge, illegal outfits from cheating players.
This has been the case since the very beginning of legal gambling – and gaming licenses (which are almost ALWAYS required of casinos) are designed to help build trust with players, prove that the games/machines played are fair, and hold the casinos to accountability.
Online gambling has only increased the need for regulatory involvement – because, of course, players can’t actually see the machine/software in action…
And this means that if you’re looking to play at an online casino, it’s vital you choose a casino that’s licensed by a reputable licensing body.
What Do Licensing Bodies Actually Do?
While each country will have different protocols for how licenses are issued – and what the terms of licenses include – generally-speaking, licensing bodies ensure:
- That casinos only offer games that are independently certified by testing houses to ensure their fairness
- That online casinos hold player funds in separate bank accounts, so that players can get paid in the event of insolvency or liquidation
- That casinos issued with a license operate within the relevant legal framework
- That casinos are adhering to preventing underage gambling, carrying out affordability checks on players, and following anti-money laundering laws
Of course, the terms of getting a casino license are far-more complex than that summary – but that’s the general idea of why licensing bodies exist, and why they issue licenses to casinos.
Where To Find Licensed and Regulated Casinos?
Any casino you see listed here on Online Casino HQ is fully-licensed by a reputable regulator – you can see our recommended sites below…
Who Are The World’s Main Licensing Bodies and Online Gambling Regulators?
As mentioned earlier in this post, almost all countries that allow online gambling have their own gambling regulator – and there is usually just one licensing body per country. Below, we’re going to take a look at the main licensing bodies.
We’ll begin by looking at the 6 most common license bodies – and further down this page, you can view a full list of license bodies, sorted by region. Remember, not all licenses are equal (for example, a casino licensed by the UK’s Gambling Commission is MUCH safer to play at, than one with a Curacao license) – so it’s important you understand the basics about the regulators, as this will help you choose a casino that’s safe, secure, and reputable.
Below, we’re going to look at the various gambling regulators, and these are categorised by continent.
North and Central America
Kahnawake Gaming Commission: The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is a licensing body based in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, in Quebec, and it’s one of the bigger names in the online gambling regulation world, widely regarded as one of the most reputable licensing bodies around. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission are known for taking player complaints seriously (often investigating individual cases), and they also employ low taxes and fees, making their licenses frequently sought-after.
Nevada Gaming Control Board: The Nevada Gaming Control Board was founded in 1955 by state legislature, to help regulate the growing casino industry that Las Vegas helped to create. The regulator is highly-regarded, and is often considered a ‘model’, for other regulators to take heed from – and 2013 saw the Gaming Control Board oversee online poker in the state.
New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement: The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement – known as the DGE – is the regulatory body in charge of ensuring gambling businesses in New Jersey adheres to the requirements of gaming licenses. Established in the 1970’s, the DGE today also regulates online gambling in the region, with licenses issued to casinos in Atlantic City, allowing them to offer online gambling to residents in the state.
Panama Gaming Control Board (Junta de Control de Juegos): Founded in 2002, the Panama Gaming Control Board issues gambling licenses to companies wishing to offer online gambling services to Panamanian and global players. Known for ensuring license holders adhere to stringent licensing requirements, licenses issued by the Panama Gaming Control Board are generally seen as very reputable. —
UK Gambling Commission: The United Kingdom Gambling Commission was founded in 2005, after the UK Government passed the Gambling Act of 2005 – and the UKGC is generally regarded as the most prestigious and reputable regulator in the world, enforcing very strict operating requirements on its licensees. Known for ensuring players – and their funds – are kept safe at all times, the UK Gambling Commission license shows that an operator has undergone strict vetting, and you can rest assured any site licensed by the Commission is reputable and fair.
ARJEL (France): 2010 saw France legislators approve the regulation of online gambling, and with this legislative change came the creation of the Autorite de regulation des jeux en ligne – better-known as the ARJEL. Responsible for issuing licenses to French-based gambling companies, the ARJEL is seen as a good regulator – but they have come under criticism for imposing high taxes and fees, making it hard for smaller companies to penetrate the market.
AAMS (Italy): The Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato – better known as the AAMS – is the regulatory body responsible for regulating online gambling in Italy, and while licenses issued by the AAMS only allow operators to offer gambling services to Italian residents, the license conditions are strict, ensuring that players play in a safe, fair, and secure environment.
Spanish Gaming Commission (Comisión Nacional del Juego): The Spanish Gaming Commission was founded in 2014 to deal with the newly-regulated online gambling market in Spain – and while the Commission is known for enforcing strict licence conditions on operators, like other European countries, Spanish players are unable to play against or interact with players outside of Spain.
Gibraltar Licensing Authority: One of the biggest online gambling regulators, the Gibraltar Licensing Authority is – of course – based in Gibraltar… a territory that’s known for attracting online gambling operators, due to low tax rates.
Gambling Supervision Commission (Isle of Man): The Gambling Supervision Commission is in charge of all betting activity on the Isle of Man – and, founded in 1962, the Commission is widely-regarded as one of the world’s top and most reputable regulators. Offering long license terms, and low tax rates, the Gambling Supervision Commission is much like the Gibraltar Licensing Authority, in that it’s an attractive place for operators to make base.
Malta Gaming Authority: The Malta Gaming Authority is one of the biggest gambling regulators in the world, and almost all reputable online gambling firms that want to offer services to European players apply for a license from them, given the reputable nature of licenses issued, along with the attractive taxation rates.
Alderney Gambling Control Commission: The Alderney Gambling Commission was founded in 2000 to regulate gambling companies that wanted to set up base in the British Isles, and – much like the Malta Gaming Authority and the UK’s Gambling Commission – the Alderney Gambling Commission is highly-respected and trusted.
Jersey Gambling Commission: The Jersey Gambling Commission is in charge of licensing businesses that want to operate within the Channel Island of Jersey – and while the Commission isn’t one of the world’s most recognized, they offer operators attractive taxation rates, meaning it’s likely we’ll see more businesses set up there in the future.
Belgian Gambling Commission: The Belgian Gambling Commission is one of the strictest gambling regulators in the world, allowing only a select few operators to set up there – and they have become well-known for operating a ‘blacklist’ of operators who’re unable to set up their businesses in Belgium.
Danish Gambling Authority: The Danish Gambling Authority was first founded in 2012, and the Authority was formed when Danske Spil – a state owned monopoly, that was the only firm allowed to take gambling bets lost its monopoly. Companies that acquire a license from the Danish Gambling Authority are only allowed to offer betting services to Danish residents, and the 20% taxation rate imposed by the Authority has lead to many companies choosing not to acquire a license.
Netherlands Gaming Authority: The Netherlands Gaming Authority was established in 2012 to regulate all land-based gambling activities. While they are yet to officially regulate online gambling in the Netherlands (which remains a murky area in the eyes of the law), the Netherlands Gaming Authority are a trusted and reputable organisation, and they take player safety extremely seriously.
Curacao Internet Gambling Association: The Curacao Internet Gambling Association is one of the world’s largest gaming regulators, and while the regulator doesn’t have the best track-record, in terms of ensuring their licensees operate fairly, they do offer very low tax rates, making their licenses ideal for new gambling companies looking to get their feet in the ladder.
DAC (Aruba): The DAC is the regulator responsible for issuing licenses in Aruba – one of the territories that’s part of the Netherland Antilles – and the DAC is responsible for both on, and offline gambling regulation, unlike Curacao, for example, which only regulates online gambling.
Antigua Division of Gaming: The Antigua Division of Gaming is part of Antigua’s Financial Services Regulatory Commission, and the license issuer has become one of the most popular in the world today, thanks to the generous taxation rules, and the ease at which new operators can start their business in the region.
PAGCOR and FCLRC (Philippines): Online gambling in Asia isn’t yet as popular as say, in Europe, and because of this, there’s only one main nation that offers any form of online gambling regulation; the Philippines. There are two regulators that deal with gambling regulation in the Philippines, with The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) regulating land-based venues, and the First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corporation (FCLRC) offering online licenses.
Australia and Oceania
ACT Gambling and Racing Commission: The laws surrounding online gambling in Australia are murky, and, at the time of writing, Australian-based companies are only allowed to offer racebook and lottery betting to customers – subject to receiving a license from the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission. It is worth noting, however, that Australian players are free to gamble online, but only if the site is licenses through another jurisdiction.
Vanuatu Customs and Inland Revenue: A small island nation found in the South Pacific, Vanuatu is hardly one of the world’s larger online gambling regions – but that hasn’t stopped the government working hard to regulate the industry – and the Vanuatu Customs and Inland Revenue is the body responsible for issuing licenses to e-gaming companies.