Casino regulations guide

Playing at an online casino with a local online gambling license in South Africa doesn’t require much groundwork. However, the gambling industry expands to accommodate even more fraudulent online casinos as you go beyond South Africa. The need for online gaming licenses has become more important to avoid getting scammed or breaking gambling laws.

An online casino may have its own rules, but it must be subject to a licensing authority to operate in specific regions. For example, not all online casinos operate in the European Union, although they have local gambling licenses in their home country. The same applies to sports betting operators that take their services beyond their localities.

Fair gaming practices and the push for safer online gaming have caused many governments to establish tighter regulations. Gambling licenses are not only for online gambling operators but also for software providers. With that in mind, we’ll review why gambling regulation is essential and the prominent authorities in the gambling industry.

By Adiela de Bruyn - Updated 2024/02/08 - Estimated reading time: 10 minutes.

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Casino regulations guide

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Local and International License Regulation

Gambling companies own online casinos. As businesses, these companies must be registered in their home countries. For example, a sports betting business will be registered in South Africa, keeping with the business ethics of the country.

Registering as a gambling business with a physical office address is the first step to providing online casino games. The registration does not mean gambling companies can start offering casino games for real-money online betting. For that, they must become licensed operators.

A gambling company can double as an operator. However, most gaming companies, especially large brands, use third-party operators. Big gaming companies include White Hat Gaming, Aspire Global International Ltd., Jumpman Gaming, Skill On Net Ltd., etc.

Regulatory bodies vet online gaming websites before issuing an online gambling license to gambling businesses. Gaming licenses for land-based casinos do not apply to online casinos. Hence, a gambling company must obtain another gaming license for its online services, even if it is a well-established land-based brand.

Local and international authorities are involved in regulating the global online gambling industry. Some local authorities have built up the reputation that their gaming licenses are respected globally.

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Why You Should Play at Online Casinos with Reputable Gaming Licenses

Not all gaming operators are genuine and ready to give you the best online gambling experience. Some gambling businesses serve as conduits for money laundering with no concern for player welfare. You’ve probably heard of players who couldn’t withdraw their winnings after playing at a specific gambling company.

Registering with gambling businesses with an online casino license gives the following benefits:

  • Licensed gaming businesses adhere to privacy and data protection laws. Hence, your data (identity and bank details) are secure.
  • Licensed gaming businesses have fair and transparent random number generators. Gambling regulators check this part before issuing an online gambling license.
  • Customer support will be available, responsive, and efficient.
  • Licensed gambling operators use fair casino software for online games.
  • The bonuses are transparent without any manipulation.
  • The payment options are secure and reliable.
  • A licensed gaming company must provide a safe online gambling space.
  • There is accountability to higher authorities for dispute resolution.
  • Gambling activities occur per responsible gaming policies.
  • You’ll have responsible gaming tools to protect yourself against problem gambling.

There are many more benefits to registering with a licensed gaming company offering online gambling services. The dangers can be devastating. There is a loss of money on the one hand and jail time on the other if money laundering and other crimes are involved.

Local Regulatory Bodies in the Country

The National Gambling Act of 1996 legalized the gambling industry. It established the National Gambling Board, which oversees and regulates all gambling activities in the country. The 2004 and 2008 amendments amended and regulated the 1996 Act.

Although the online gambling license is absent, the National Gambling Board performs several duties. These include:

  • Oversight of all provincial licensing authorities
  • Regulate the gambling sector in compliance with its statutes
  • Provide an integrated strategic information portal for information sharing
  • Ensures that the gaming industry remains relevant and competitive

The National Gambling Board licenses only companies that satisfy its requirements. These often begin with offline gambling.

International Regulatory Bodies

If you hope to play on an offshore online gambling site, then an online gaming license is even more vital. You must confirm that the online gambling business has a physical office. Just one license is enough, but we recommend more when necessary.

Prominent international regulatory bodies and their licenses include the following:

Regulatory BodyOnline Gaming License Issued
Kahnawake Gaming CommissionInteractive Gaming License (IGL), Key Person License, Slot Machine License, Casino Software Provider Authorization, and Client Provider Authorization
Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)Gaming Service License and the Critical Gaming Supply License
UK Gambling CommissionOperating licenses
Curacao eGaming (Master License holder of Curacao)Business-to-business and business-to-consumer licenses
The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision CommissionNetwork Services license, full license, and sub-license

The Curacao gaming license is one of the oldest but less trusted. Gaming software developers can acquire it because Curacao eGaming is a master license holder.

Providers of slot machines often opt for the Kahnawake Gaming Commission because of its specific license for slot machines. Online game makers can also receive licenses from the Malta Gaming Authority.

The Maltese gambling license is common and safe among online casinos and developers. It is one of the go-to licensing bodies for operators in the online gaming industry.

Operators in the online gaming industry can hold more than one online gaming license. They use this approach to offer their services in different jurisdictions. The same thing applies to sports betting sites.

Some regulators have advantages over others. For example, the MGA has a lower corporate income tax rate than the UK Gambling Commission.

An online gambling business that wants a lower corporate tax rate will opt for the MGA. Besides lower corporate tax rates, the MGA has a faster licensing process.

The Licensing Process

The primary requirement for licensing any online gaming business is adhering to regulations. Licensing authorities have laws they enforce. For example, the South African National Gambling Board licenses casinos according to the Gambling Act.

Vetting occurs on all online gaming license applications. The regulatory bodies will vet the gaming company and its operators, if any. Then, they can approve the online gaming license.

The licensing process often involves the following:

  • Application from the online gaming business
  • Payment of licensing fees
  • Vetting of the gaming platform
  • Review of the casino games
  • Approval and issuance of the online gaming license

As per their local regulations, regulatory bodies have different things they investigate when vetting an online gaming business. For example, the MGA considers the following:

  • The gambling business must have a part of its operations in Malta
  • Management and finance review of the gambling business
  • Compliance with its gaming industry regulations
  • Review of the online gaming site (includes security checks, tests, audits, etc.)
  • Ongoing monitoring

A prominent regulation for online gaming sites is the provision of resources for problem gamblers. Self-exclusion should be available on these online gaming websites.

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Responsible Gambling and Anti-Money Laundering (AML)

Online gambling regulations frown on money laundering. Hence, regulatory bodies review the site’s structure before issuing the gaming license. They can also review the games played to see if the results were fair.

All casinos must have a clear AML and a responsible gambling policy for a gaming license. Their banking structure should prevent laundering in any form.

Know Your Customer (KYC) policies are part of the AML requirements for a gaming license. Hence, you may receive requests to verify your identity when playing online games.

We expect casinos to conduct KYC once. However, they might do it multiple times if certain triggers occur. An example is exceeding specific spending limits in the casino.

Adhering to Online Gaming Regulations

The gambling market might be open to you, but that doesn't mean you have unrestricted freedom to do anything. You can play on a site with a valid gaming license and still break the law. Hence, paying attention to regulations can save you a lot of trouble.

Local Regulations

Some countries ban betting in the international online gambling market. You are limited to local sites with a gaming license. Countries that have such regulations include Namibia, the United States, and Norway.

International Regulations

A casino with an international gambling license does not mean it is open to you. Sometimes, the operators will block the site in your region. Some players still get around this by using VPNs.

Playing at such casinos leaves you at massive risk. You cannot report any irregularities, like withheld winnings, to the licensing body. Your local regulatory and international licensing bodies can do nothing, seeing that you used the site illegally.

Fortunately, sites with a gambling license often list restricted countries. Review the list to ensure your region is not among them. If your country is restricted, moving to another site is best.

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Understanding Jurisdictions

No gambling license covers all regions of the world. Hence, each gambling license is legal in specific jurisdictions. These are the geographical boundaries where the gambling license is valid.

Jurisdictions can cover a state, country, or several countries, like the European Union. With a gambling license, a casino can operate in a jurisdiction. Players can access its services without breaking any law.

The online gaming license cost varies from one jurisdiction to another. Similarly, different jurisdictions have unique standards, regulations, and application processes. Popular countries that issue licenses include the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Curacao, Malta, Kahnawake, etc.

Malta Gambling Authority (MGA)

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is a prime choice for South African players seeking trustworthy online gaming. Known for its strict regulations and commitment to fair play, the MGA guarantees a safe, transparent gaming environment. It ensures games are fair and offers robust customer support. This makes the MGA a reliable and secure option for South African online gamers.

The Kahnawake Gaming License

While the Kahnawake gambling license is less prominent than the UKGC or the MGA, it has licensed over 250 sites. Most countries recognize the license. However, the United States remains the only country that has outright rejected the license.

The Isle of Man Gambling License

Operators can obtain an Isle of Man gambling license and offer services to other countries. The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission issues the following licenses:

  • The Online Gambling Regulation Act (OGRA) licenses: This gambling license is for operators that offer products for public consumption.
  • Network Services: This gambling license is for companies that offer network services to gambling operators.
  • The Software Supply license
  • The Full license: This gambling license is for companies that offer gambling services. It is the license companies that offer casino and bookmaker services choose.

The Curacao License

Casinos with the Curacao license can operate in several countries. That is because the license is respected in many countries, including other jurisdictions. Countries where you can use the Curacao eGaming license include Australia, Canada, and European nations.

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Casino regulations exist to protect players and operators from abuse. National bodies often regulate casinos in their countries. However, local authorities in provinces or states can regulate gambling activities in their region.

Review casino regulations for your country of residence. Avoid unlicensed gaming platforms, especially international sites. The casinos and bookmakers listed on our website are fully compliant with the laws and you can play there without any issue. Finally, play responsibly and have fun without chasing losses.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Casino Licensing

How can I verify a casino license?

Go to the official website of the licensing body. Enter the casino’s name to see details on its license, including the current status.

Are South African sportsbooks legal?

You can bet on your favourite sports. However, you must use platforms licensed by the nine provincial gambling and racing boards.

Can I play for free?

Most casinos feature demo games you can play for free. Ensure you verify all licenses before using real money. Depending on your location, some casino software developers might block your country, even from free games.

Author: Adiela de Bruyn

Adiela de Bruyn

Adiela de Bruyn, our founder, launched this site in 2016. Since then, she's written over 100 pages filled with crucial info to enhance your gaming experience. Her goal? To provide you with the best, most reliable online casino knowledge.

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Article published 2017/02/04