One of the side-effects of the ongoing pandemic is a surge in demand for online gambling. Travel restrictions, occupancy limits, and health concerns have forced many customers to avoid land-based casino resorts in favor of online casinos.
The conditions are ideal for a foray into the online casino business in 2021. It has always been a market characterized by intense competition. To get the best possible start with an online casino, a valid online casino license is well nigh mandatory.
What is an online casino license?
All legitimate businesses are governed by specific laws and regulatory bodies. The online gambling business is no different in this regard. Gambling is a sensitive topic from religious, moral, and social welfare perspectives. In many parts of the world, it is a prohibited activity.
But there are other regions and countries where the opposite is true – many forms of gambling, including online casinos, are tolerated, but under strict laws and regulations. In these markets businesses can offer real money gambling games to adult customers online, but only if they have a valid license.
Why is an online casino license important?
Due to its lucrative nature, gambling often attracts unsavory elements like organized crime syndicates. Governments use regulations and licensing rules to ensure that the online casino industry remains "clean" and legitimate.
This also has a direct impact on customers – many of the licensing provisions focus on creating layers of protection for customers. Without these provisions, unscrupulous operators would be free to cheat and swindle their players with impunity.
Online casinos require electronic payment systems, casino gaming software, CRM systems, and many other technical components. Vendors of these systems prefer working with licensed operators.
And modern online players know about the benefits they get from playing at a casino that holds a reputed license. If you want to convince players to spend their hard-earned money at your gambling site in 2021, a relevant online casino license is essential.
The link between bitcoin and casino licensing
With the recent surge in bitcoin prices, interest in cryptocurrencies is at an all-time high. Even the likes of Tesla, MasterCard, Goldman Sachs, and Citi Group have embraced the popular blockchain technology.
Cryptocurrencies offer a bevy of benefits to online casino gambling. To operators, it presents a cheap yet secure alternative to established payment providers like credit cards, online banking, and e-wallets (no transaction fees on bitcoin).
Apart from the luxury of instant transactions, customers also get the luxury of privacy due to the anonymous nature of the blockchain. But in the online casino market, crypto operators suffer from a fair amount of trust deficit, due to the lack of an established middle-man like MasterCard or VISA.
Having a valid license removes this concern somewhat. Licensed casinos are expected to maintain standards of fairness and are accountable before the authorities. Players are more likely to use bitcoin as a mode of payment at such casinos, over unlicensed sites.
How to find the appropriate casino license?
Your choice of gambling license will depend entirely on your target market. If you plan to attract UK players, you will need a UK Gambling Commission license. In Europe, countries like Sweden have a similar domestic authority called the Spelinspektionen to grant online casino licenses.
Another major online casino license with a pan-international presence is the Malta Gaming Authority license. It allows a casino to accept players from over 180 nations around the world. The license does prohibit players from countries that have strict laws on gambling – for instance, US players are not allowed at MGA-licensed casinos.
If you want to cater to American players, you have to look at individual state licenses. States like New Jersey and Pennsylvania have legalized online casinos. Other major online casino licensing authorities include Curacao, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, and Antigua & Barbuda.
Once you have finalized your target market, the next step is to apply for a license. There are two main routes to an online casino license:
- Direct application
- White label casinos
Applying directly to an online gambling authority
The qualifying requirements to start an online casino license can vary wildly depending on your chosen market. Authorities in UK, Malta, EU, and US states tend to be extremely strict, with high standard requirements from aspiring casino owners. These include:
- “Fit and Proper” persons – the authority will check applicants for their financial management, available resources, and long-term viability as operators. Any links to organized crime, corruption, or other criminal activities are also checked.
- Full business plan checks – Apart from financial analysis, the authority will also check the marketing plans, HR systems, and long-term growth targets of your proposed online casino business.
- Compliance – running an online casino requires compliance to a wide range of rules on everything from software standards, game RNG, player security, online data privacy, responsible gambling policies, and more.
When applying for an online casino license, you have to submit detailed documents that cover all these aspects. On top of that, you also have to pay licensing fees which range from a few thousand dollars to $100,000 or more, depending on the licensing authority.
White label casinos – the easy way out
A white label casino is a ready-made online casino available in a package deal. It has everything – a working website with a full selection of games, backend software, CRM, payment processing, and of course, a valid license.
With a white label solution, you don't have to worry about the hassles of applying for a license or even finding the right kind of software and banking partners. The white-label service providers do all the heavy lifting, in exchange for leasing fees.
Popular white label services include SoftSwiss, SkillOnNet, and EveryMatrix. Getting an online casino license is not easy – it requires you to have all the systems of a gambling site in place. Getting everything ready from scratch is a tall order if you are new to the arena. This is why white label casinos are popular for first-time operators.