The online casino market, especially the European casino segment, has emerged as a dynamic and rapidly expanding sector within the broader gaming industry. Characterized by its digital platforms and virtual gameplay, online casinos have witnessed remarkable growth driven by shifting consumer preferences, technological advancements, and increasing internet accessibility.
An online casino is a lucrative business that, when executed strategically, can swiftly pay back initial investments and establish a steady stream of profits. Nonetheless, prior to starting the planning phase, a thorough understanding of the distinct procedures and rules inherent to this business area, especially in the European casino market, is essential. In this blog post, we’re sharing key steps that can shape your online casino’s success – from selecting the right software platform and obtaining the necessary licenses to creating an engaging game portfolio, building a user-friendly website, and more.
What Is an Online Casino?
An online casino is a digital platform that allows players to engage in various forms of gambling and casino games over the internet. Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar casinos, which require a physical presence, online casino platforms provide virtual access to a wide range of casino games from the convenience of a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Therefore, an online casino opens doors to a vast global market, provided that it’s properly licensed and adheres to the regulations of the country where the players are based.
Other key features of online casinos include:
- Online casinos offer a diverse selection of games, including slot machines, blackjack, roulette, poker, and live dealer games
- Online casinos provide secure payment methods for deposits and withdrawals, ensuring that players’ financial transactions are safe and protected
- To ensure fair play, most online casino games use Random Number Generators (RNGs) to generate random outcomes, simulating the unpredictability of traditional casino games
- Some online casinos feature live chat and interactive elements, allowing players to communicate with each other and with live dealers in real-time
- Many online casinos offer responsible gambling features, such as setting deposit limits, self-exclusion options, and time management tools to promote safe and responsible gaming behavior
UNDERSTAND THE ONLINE CASINO BUSINESS
The global reach of the casino business is vast, with players spanning continents and cultures, making it a significant part of the iGaming world. According to industry reports, the casino business’s annual revenue has been on a steady rise, surpassing the billion-dollar mark. It’s a clear indication that there’s a lucrative revenue potential, and your business idea in the casino business can be realized with confidence and trust that it will gain traction from players.
The proliferation of mobile gaming is a notable reason for the online casino market’s expansion. With the popularity of smartphones and tablets, players can conveniently access casino games on the go. Therefore, a substantial percentage of online casino revenue is now generated through mobile devices, highlighting the significance of the optimization of platforms for mobile gameplay.
Another noteworthy trend is the integration of cryptocurrencies as a payment method within online casinos. The utilization of cryptocurrencies offers players enhanced security, faster transactions, and global accessibility. This has allowed the emergence of online crypto casinos that instead of using fiat currencies, exclusively deal in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and other established or emerging cryptocurrencies.
The success of online casinos is also caused by the delivery of compelling player experiences that meet diverse needs. User-friendly interfaces, seamless navigation, and responsive customer support contribute to player satisfaction and retention. Online casinos boast a diverse array of games, ranging from classic ones to innovative gaming including slots. This wide selection caters to different player preferences, contributing to prolonged engagement and player loyalty. If you’re interested in how to start a slot machine business, the variety of games and player engagement in online casinos can offer valuable insights for your venture.
Players from across the world continually and regularly seek digital entertainment and new gaming experiences which makes the market of online casinos a promising area of business development. The market continues to evolve, offering plenty of opportunities to those who are determined to launch new and carefully crafted online casino experiences.
Consider the Advantages of Running an Online Casino
Running an online casino business offers a few advantages that strengthen the potential for lucrative revenue and global reach. They turn online casinos into dynamic and flexible business areas with immense growth opportunities.
Prior to deciding whether to start your own online casino, you should consider the following advantages:
- Its business model is flexible as you can choose between various business models, such as white-label solutions, partnerships with software providers, or developing your own proprietary platform
- Depending on the jurisdiction you operate in, online casinos may offer more regulatory flexibility compared to land-based casinos
- Online casinos can be managed remotely which gives you the flexibility to operate from different locations and adapt to changing market conditions
- Operating an online casino often involves lower overhead costs compared to land-based casinos, as you don’t need physical premises, equipment, or extensive staffing
- Online casinos operate around the clock, providing players with constant access to games and entertainment, which can lead to consistent revenue streams
- Online platforms provide detailed data and analytics which allow you to track player behavior, preferences, and trends with the aim of optimizing marketing and improving the player experience
- Player engagement can be enhanced by continuously integrating technological innovations, such as VR/AR experiences, and gamification elements which amasses more players
Choose a Way of Launching an Online Casino
As mentioned earlier, there are several ways of starting an online casino. Essentially, you can either develop your own proprietary platform or opt for a white-label casino. Your choice will depend on factors such as your budget, timeline, technical skills, customization requirements, and long-term business goals. While our team of lawyers can help you decide what solution suits your business idea best and guide you through any process of launching an online casino, including in-depth insights provided in our online casino guide, below we compare the development of a proprietary platform and a white-label solution.
Developing your own proprietary platform boasts the following advantages:
- Building a casino or gambling platform from scratch allows you to create a unique and fully customized casino platform tailored to your vision
- You would have complete control over every aspect of the casino, including design, features, and future updates
- A custom-built casino may enable you to establish a more distinctive brand identity that will set you apart from competitors
- You can integrate innovative technologies, unique game offerings, and tailor-made features to differentiate your casino
However, developing your own proprietary platform has the following disadvantages:
- Developing a casino from scratch requires a higher upfront investment for software development, game integration, and infrastructure
- The process can be time-consuming which may delay your entry into the market
- You’ll need technical expertise or a dedicated development team to handle the complexities of building and maintaining a proprietary casino platform
- Ensuring compliance with relevant regulations and obtaining licenses are often more complex when creating a casino from scratch
Launching a white-label casino boasts the following advantages:
- A white-label casino solution provides a pre-built platform with existing games, payment systems, and features, allowing you to launch your casino faster
- It often requires a lower upfront cost as the development and infrastructure are already in place
- You don’t need extensive technical knowledge to launch a white-label casino, as the white-label casino provider handles the technical aspects
- White-label online casino providers typically have experience in the industry, which can be beneficial for newcomers seeking guidance
On the other hand, launching a white-label casino has the following disadvantages:
- While white-label solutions offer some degree of customization, you might have limitations in terms of design, branding, and features, although it ultimately depends on a white-label provider
- You might have less control over the backend processes, software updates, and future developments, as these are managed by the provider
- Your casino’s branding might not be as unique, and you could face competition from other casinos using the same white-label casino provider
- While initial costs may be lower, there could be ongoing fees or revenue-sharing agreements with the white-label casino provider
Consider the Steps of Launching an Online Casino
Launching and opening an online casino is a complex process that requires careful planning and adherence to regulations. You should be prepared to meet an extensive list of specific legal requirements that vary depending on the jurisdiction. Generally speaking, the process of launching an online casino involves such stages as building or acquiring an online gambling platform, incorporating a business, and obtaining a license.
The following steps are essential for opening an online casino business:
- Selecting a suitable jurisdiction for obtaining a gambling license based on legal, regulatory, and taxation considerations
- Choosing a reputable and reliable casino software provider or white-label solution – we can help you with both approaches
- Choosing a diverse range of casino games, including slots, table games, live dealer games, and more from trusted and licensed game developers into your platform
- Designing and developing a user-friendly and visually appealing website that reflects your brand and making sure the website is optimized for mobile devices and offers smooth navigation and fast loading times
- Integrating secure and convenient payment methods for deposits and withdrawals with robust security measures, including SSL encryption and fraud prevention
- Creating a player registration process that complies with Know-Your-Customer (KYC) regulations, including player verification procedures to ensure age and identity verification
- Establishing responsible gambling policies and features to ensure safe and controlled gaming behavior
- Conducting thorough testing of the platform to ensure functionality, security, and user experience, including testing by an independent auditor approved in line with national regulations
- Developing a comprehensive casino marketing strategy to attract and retain players in line with the regulations enforced by the gambling authority
- Ensuring all processes are in place for responsive and knowledgeable customer support that meets all the regulatory requirements
- Obtaining an appropriate gambling license from a chosen jurisdiction
Choose a Jurisdiction for Your Online Casino
Regulations within the online casino market vary across jurisdictions. While some countries have established robust legal frameworks that govern online gambling, others are still to introduce comprehensive regulations. When choosing from various jurisdictions, it’s necessary to take the size of the company and its capabilities into consideration. Some jurisdictions are favorable for startups, while others are accessible only to mature businesses.
Whether you’re capable of meeting stringent licensing requirements in a well-established jurisdiction for online casino operators with strong financial and operational foundations or are a gambling startup looking for a flexible environment where you could test your online casino idea and learn how to own a casino, our team of lawyers here at Regulated Europe will be pleased to offer a jurisdiction that suits your needs.
Malta is known for its well-regulated and reputable online gambling industry, as it offers a comprehensive licensing process and a favorable tax regime for operators. The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) oversees the licensing and regulation of online casinos. The license is quite expensive and difficult to get which is why it’s most suitable for well-established businesses that are capable of meeting strict requirements.
The Isle of Man is a popular choice for its stable legal environment and strong player protection measures. It’s often chosen by gambling startups and more mature gambling businesses as it has a robust technical infrastructure, reliable telecommunications, and generally offers a business-friendly environment with competitive tax rates. The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC) regulates online gambling activities and provides a trusted licensing process.
Curaçao offers a popular licensing option for online casinos due to its relatively low licensing fees and straightforward application process. The Curaçao eGaming Licensing Authority provides licenses for a range of gambling activities. Curaçao’s regulatory framework provides online casino operators with some flexibility in terms of game offerings and operational procedures, which can be appealing to startups seeking versatility and a lower barrier to entry.
Anjouan has recently become a popular option among gambling startups seeking a flexible but globally recognized regulatory environment with an affordable license. The Anjouan Betting and Gaming Board (ABGB) is the national authority responsible for the supervision of online casinos operating from Anjouan. The Anjouan gambling license is often considered more affordable and has a more straightforward licensing process compared to licenses from other jurisdictions.
Consider Casino Licensing Requirements
To start and own an online casino and operate legally, you’ll need to satisfy legal requirements and apply for a gambling license from a regulatory authority from your chosen jurisdiction. The specific requirements for obtaining an online casino license can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another and we can advise on requirements specific to your chosen jurisdiction. That said, there are some common requirements that are often encountered in some of the most popular licensing jurisdictions for online casinos.
Usually, online casino license applicants have to satisfy the following legal requirements:
- Open a company in the jurisdiction where the application will be submitted
- Demonstrate the company’s financial stability and ability to cover operational costs, player payouts, and potential liabilities
- Comply with national anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing AML/CFT regulations
- The directors must be experienced in the area and capable of owning and running an online casino business
- Applicants and key individuals involved in the casino operations may have to undergo thorough background checks, which can include criminal record checks and financial assessments
The following documents and information usually must be attached to or included in the application form:
- Incorporation documents
- A comprehensive business plan outlining the casino’s concept, target audience, marketing strategy, and financial projections
- Details about the casino’s technical infrastructure, software providers, game offerings, and security measures
- Evidence of responsible gambling policies, age verification procedures, AML/CFT practices, and player fund protection mechanisms
- Certified copies of passports of shareholders, directors, and beneficial owners
- CVs of key individuals
- Certificates of no criminal record of shareholders, directors, and ultimate beneficial owners
- Detailed information about the company’s ownership structure, directors, shareholders, and key personnel
- Evidence of the fairness of the games and the use of RNGs to ensure unbiased outcomes
- An outline of internal data protection and security measures and processes
- A certificate showing that the online casino platform has been tested by an independent auditor
It’s also important to carefully examine general national laws and in some cases EU laws, related to company formation, operations, reporting, and consumer protection. Being able to navigate the applicable laws and regulations is crucial in ensuring not only the launch but also the sustainable and stable growth of an online casino.
Apply for an Online Casino License
Once you’re sure that all the regulatory requirements can be met and your online casino can operate within the framework of your chosen jurisdiction, it’s time to submit an application for a gambling license. This license serves as a legal and regulatory framework that ensures that the casino complies with industry standards, AML/CFT regulations, player protection measures, responsible gambling practices, and other applicable laws. The license specifies the jurisdiction where the casino is authorized to operate, and what records must be consistently kept and reported to the competent authorities.
Obtaining an online casino license involves a comprehensive application process that includes background checks, financial assessments, and an investigation of the casino’s operational plans. The usual goal of the licensing process is to find evidence that the applicant will be capable of ensuring a safe and fair gambling environment for players while preventing fraudulent or illegal activities within the industry. A license from a reputable jurisdiction will help you build player trust and maintain credibility in the competitive online gambling market.
Depending on your business model, you can apply for different types of licenses. If you’re building a proprietary online casino platform, it will require a full license. Opting for a white-label solution involves applying for a sub-license granted under the white-label solution provider’s license.
While the application process varies depending on the jurisdiction, the following steps are quite common:
- The preparation of all the required personal and company documents
- The payment of the applicable licensing fees as specified by the regulatory authority
- The submission of the application to the regulatory authority of the chosen jurisdiction
- Attending a meeting at the regulator’s office to clarify information about the operations of the business
The duration of an online casino license can vary depending on the jurisdiction where the license is obtained. Different jurisdictions have their own regulations and policies regarding the validity and renewal of gambling licenses. While some jurisdictions offer indefinite gambling licenses, others require annual renewal. Sub-licenses are usually tied to the duration of the master license.
If you wish to open an online casino, our team here at Regulated United Europe will be delighted to support you in choosing the most suitable jurisdiction, navigating relevant legislation, and taking all the necessary steps. With dedicated legal advisors, tax experts, and financial accountants at your side, you will find the processes of launching an online casino easy, frictionless, and transparent. Contact us now to schedule a personalized consultation and set the stage for long-lasting success.
Best jurisdictions for online casino license in 2023
Getting a license in Costa Rica is the most economical option for those considering how to start a casino or gambling business. The whole process takes place remotely, without a personal visit to the country, so a license in Costa Rica is the most optimal solution for novice gambling businessmen. In legal terms, Costa Rica does not have a gaming license – here for companies that are allowed to legally engage in gambling, issue a data processing license – a data processing license, which gives you the right to legally provide foreign services online.
The main advantages of obtaining a gaming license in Costa Rica:
- Low licensing costs compared to other countries
- Fast time to get a gaming license;
- Minimum requirements to the authorized capital and structure of the company;
- Stable economic situation in the country;
- No taxation
- Partnership with the USA and the EU;
It is also worth noting the high level of legal support for gambling companies in English in Costa Rica, due to the fact that this country has been providing services to companies whose business is involved in gambling.
Gambling (the annual fixed fees paid by the company for the renewal of the license), together with tourism, are the main income of this small state in Central America. In order to obtain a license in Costa Rica, it is necessary not only to register a company here, but also to indicate a physical presence in the country, that is, to rent an office, as well as to employ at least one local employee. In this case, it is forbidden to provide services to local residents – will have to block their IP addresses. However, this is a trifle in comparison with the requirements that European regulators impose on gambling companies. It should also be borne in mind that the registration of the company in Costa Rica and obtaining a license here takes quite a long time because of the slow work of the state authorities – the whole process can take from 1-2 months to six months. If you do not have the opportunity to wait this long, there is an online casino business opportunity to buy ready-made companies in Costa Rica completely ready for the gaming business. Account for a Costa Rican gambling company can be opened in any country.
Curacao is one of the most respected and respected jurisdictions in the online casino industry. For gambling companies, Curacao has two types of licenses – the Master License (the main license) and the Sub-license (the sub-license). The Master License was previously issued to companies by the government itself, but at the moment their issuance is suspended, and new companies wishing to obtain a gambling license for Curaçao can only obtain a sub-license from those who have the main license, However, from September 1, 2023, the gaming legislation of Curaçao is planned to implement a number of reforms aimed at greater control of the gaming industry by the state.
Gambling license in Curacao allows you to engage in absolutely all kinds of gambling business and work with customers from all over the world, except in countries where it is prohibited by law.
As of 2023, the countries whose citizens are prohibited to provide services with a gaming license Curacao, the following:
Afghanistan, American Samoa, Aruba, Curacao, France, Iran, Netherlands, Netherlands, Antilles, USA ,United Kingdom
Also lawyers from Regulated United Europe recommend to thoroughly familiarize with the legislation of the following countries before starting a casino to provide services for their citizens, as in most cases it will require obtaining a local license:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania ,Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
In Curaçao, there are strict anti-money laundering regulations, so online casinos are expected to comply with anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing policies, including reporting suspicious activity by online casino customers. Due to these requirements, the state maintains a high level of jurisdiction and it is like Malta is the most popular country to launch an international online casino or betting company.
In general, the registration of a company in Curacao and obtaining a license takes from 2 months, and the annual license renewal (state fee) will cost $ 25,000.
Malta is a member of the European Union and a financially stable country, so having an online casino license obtained in Malta will give it prestige in the eyes of customers and partners. To get a gambling license in Malta, you need to comply with fairly strict requirements. But on the other hand, it guarantees a high level of trust from potential players.
Moreover, registration of a company in Malta and obtaining a Gambling license here opens the possibility of obtaining a residence permit. Approximately 10% of all major online gaming sites are registered here, and gambling accounts for 11% of the country’s GDP (about $1.2 billion).
There are four classes of Gambling licenses in Malta:
- for online casinos;
- for betting offices;
- betting exchanges, bingo, poker;
- suppliers of special software for gambling companies.
The authorized capital of a gambling company in Malta depends on the class of the license – from 40 thousand to 240 thousand euros. Authorized capital must be paid in before applying for a gambling license in Malta.
List of countries whose citizens are prohibited to service with a license online casino in Malta:
Afghanistan, Algeria, American Samoa, Angola, Australia, China, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Morocco, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, USA.
Also, lawyers from Regulated United Europe recommend to thoroughly familiarize with the legislation of the following countries before starting to provide services for their citizens, as in most cases it will require obtaining a local license:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Curacao, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saint-Martin, Spain, Statia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
The Comoros, in the Indian Ocean, is one of the least known jurisdictions for a gambling license, but in many ways offers more flexibility than more well-known jurisdictions such as Curaçao or Malta. There is much less bureaucracy, and regulatory requirements are not as stringent as in the countries described above. If you’re considering opening a casino, the license for online casinos can be obtained on the island of Ndzwani (Anjouan) – the second largest island in the Comoros.
In general, it has been possible to obtain a gambling license in the Comoros since 2005, but they have become more popular only recently, after Curaçao significantly tightened the requirements for obtaining a license for online casinos. For example, in order to obtain a gambling license for Curacao, it is necessary that your company’s servers are located in the territory of this jurisdiction. The Comoros has no such requirement, offering more flexible online casino business opportunities – servers can be located anywhere in the world.
If you meet all the requirements, the process of obtaining a gaming license in the Comoros is quite fast. Licences are issued only to local companies, so applications for them are submitted simultaneously with the request for company registration.
In the Comoros, companies licensed to operate online casinos are exempt from taxes and may conduct any business related to gambling except in jurisdictions where this is prohibited by law. Anjouan does not require a local director or local staff.
Gibraltar imposes the strictest requirements on companies seeking to obtain gambling licences from all of the above companies. As of 2023, just over 40 companies have a gaming licence on Gibraltar, among which there are such giants of the gambling industry as BetVictor, 32Red, 888 Casino, Casino.com, William Hill, bet365, Betfred, Unibet. The gaming licence in Gibraltar is highly valued and guarantees players’ trust.
Today, Gibraltar is recognized as the best and largest online gambling centre and casino in Europe. Local authorities have developed legislation that would allow gambling companies to conduct business comfortably and pay low taxes, but would retain a high level of reputation of the country and a stunning infrastructure to run their own online casinos.
The tax here is only 1% (but not less than 86 thousand and not more than 425 thousand pounds per year). Like Malta, Gibraltar is a member of the EU and a separate licence is issued for each type of online casino or gaming business. Only companies that had already established a good reputation and were in a good financial position could prove that they could obtain a gambling licence in Gibraltar.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes, opening a bank account is necessary for processing financial transactions, handling player deposits and withdrawals, and maintaining transparent financial records as part of regulatory requirements.
How to choose a suitable jurisdiction for obtaining a gambling license, and what factors should be considered?
When selecting a jurisdiction for a gambling license, factors such as regulatory framework, tax rates, reputation, and target market are crucial. Consideration of the licensing requirements, financial stability, and operational capabilities of your business in that jurisdiction is also essential.
Online casinos often provide responsible gambling features such as deposit limits, self-exclusion options, and time management tools. These features promote safe and controlled gaming behavior, ensuring players' well-being and preventing gambling-related harm.
Running an online casino in Europe offers advantages such as regulatory flexibility, the potential for global reach, and relatively low overhead costs.
Online casinos can be launched by developing a proprietary platform or opting for a white-label solution.
Developing a proprietary platform allows customization but requires higher upfront investments, technical expertise, and time.
White-label solutions offer a faster launch with lower costs but might have limitations in customization.
Challenges can include meeting complex licensing requirements, adhering to strict regulations, dealing with technical complexities in platform development, competition from other casinos, and high fees associated with white-label solutions.
What are the essential steps involved in launching an online casino, from selecting games to obtaining licenses and designing a website?
The steps include selecting a suitable jurisdiction, choosing reliable casino software, building a game portfolio, designing a user-friendly website, integrating secure payment methods, ensuring compliance with regulations, conducting the necessary testing, traffic attracting and obtaining a gambling license.
Applicants usually need to establish a company in the jurisdiction, demonstrate financial stability, comply with AML/CFT regulations, and ensure directors and key individuals have relevant experience.
Required documents often include incorporation papers, a comprehensive business plan, technical infrastructure details, evidence of responsible gambling policies, and personal information about directors, shareholders, and key personnel. Exact requirements directly depend on the chosen jurisdiction.
How important is compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and responsible gambling policies in the licensing process?
Compliance with AML regulations is crucial to prevent money laundering and fraud in the industry. Responsible gambling policies ensure player protection and promote ethical operations.
What steps are involved in applying for an online casino license, including background checks, financial assessments, and meetings with regulators?
The process involves preparing necessary documents, paying licensing fees, submitting the application, attending meetings with regulators, and undergoing thorough background checks and financial assessments.
How does the duration and renewal process of an online casino license differ among various jurisdictions?
The duration and renewal process of a license varies by jurisdiction. Some offer indefinite licenses, while others require annual renewal or have a validity period of a certain number of years. Sub-licenses often depend on the duration of the master license.
How can legal advisors, tax experts, and financial accountants support someone throughout the process of launching an online casino in Europe?
Professionals can guide you through legal complexities, help with tax planning, ensure compliance with regulations, assist in financial management, and provide overall guidance for a smooth and transparent launch.
Taxation varies among jurisdictions and may include corporate income tax, VAT on services, and gambling-related taxes. The specific tax rates and requirements depend on the chosen jurisdiction.
At the moment, the main services of our company are legal and compliance solutions for FinTech projects. Our offices are located in Tallinn, Vilnius, Prague, and Warsaw. The legal team can assist with legal analysis, project structuring, and legal regulation.