Why you should pay attention to where an online casino is licensed
When choosing an online casino to play at not only do you need to ensure that you avoid rogue and blacklisted online casinos, but there are a number of factors to consider when selecting from amongst the so called "reputable casinos" including their reputation amongst players in the industry, the type of software that they use, their payment methods and speeds as well as their overall games and promotional offerings.
With all of this in mind, many players overlook an important element pertaining to online casinos and that is their licensing jurisdiction. This may seem like a trivial aspect in the overall mix of reputable online casino and it is easy to believe that a license no matter where it is held means that there is some form of regulation, but this couldn't be further from the truth. The fact is that not all licensing jurisdictions are created equal and when it comes to player disputes with online casinos, this can make all of the difference to the outcomes for you as a player.
Here we look at some of the most prevalent online casino licensing jurisdictions and what they actually mean for players.
Alderney is one of the best licensing authorities and when you play at an online casino licensed here you can be assured that you are in very safe hands. The Alderney Gaming Control Commission has very strict rules and regulations and online casinos are compelled by the authority to submit their software for testing, publish RTP (Return to Player) reports as well as include a clock in their software (which you will never see in any land based venue) so that players cannot get lost in game play and completely forget the time.
In addition online casinos are required to set strict limit rules and if a player wishes to alter these, he/she is required to wait 7 days. A player may also request that he/she be excluded from gambling for 6 months or longer and the casino has to comply with this request.
The only issue is that with such strict licensing requirements they do not have that many licensee's as of yet.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda was the first licensing jurisdiction for online casinos back in the day. While on the surface it seems that they are committed to ensuring fair and transparent game play, rules are however somewhat superficial and include things like compelling operators to regulate the age of players as well as to include warnings on their websites as to the addictive nature of gambling and the publishing of information on getting help for problem gambling. When it comes to software testing, the focus is more on security than game fairness it seems.
On the financial side, there are many requirements that operators have to meet which does give some peace of mind with regard to finances and the safety of your money. And should you have an issue or complaint that is not solved to their satisfaction by the operator in question, complaints can be filed with the Antiguan Directorate of Offshore Gaming who will review and investigate the issue if necessary.
Costa Rica as a licensing jurisdiction is nothing more than a joke when it comes to online casinos. Basically they take licensing fees from hundreds of online casinos and that is where their accountability ends.
In spite of licensing hundreds of online casinos Costa Rica does not any legislation specifically to gambling, and there are no official bodies to regulate online casino activity, which means that operators are left to their own devices and if you have any issues with an online casino licensed in this country there will be nothing you can do to rectify it. So you can really just kiss your money goodbye in the event of a dispute.
Many of the big names in online casinos are licensed in Gibraltar, so many in fact that one automatically believes that this is a reputable licensing jurisdiction. The truth of the matter is that licensing fees paid to the government by online casinos are quite low, which means that there is little incentive for them to really intervene and play an active role in the industry. A quick scan of the reputable player forums reveals that they have a bad reputation and track record in managing player issues and disputes.
So while casinos licensed here are not necessarily rogue, if you do have issues with them, those responsible for the licensing of them will be of little help to you.
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man is a respected and reputable licensing jurisdiction thanks to its commitment to remaining a strong regulatory force in online gambling. They are also one of the few regulatory bodies to actually encourage and promote online gambling both in the UK and abroad.
Since their inception in 2001 the Isle of Man has continually made changes to their policies and regulatory controls in order to keep abreast with changes in the industry and ensure player protection at all times.
Before issuing licenses, applicants are thoroughly vetted to ensure credibility and ability to comply with their various regulations. Online casino operators are required to demonstrate fairness in the online casino games offered as well as prove that they have sufficient funds at all times in order to facilitate payments to players upon request.
At the inception of the online casino industry the majority of casinos were licensed in Kahnawake, an Indian territory based in Quebec, Canada. Basically they collected online casino licensing fees and left them to do as they wished. When it came to casino player disputes they were not very responsive or helpful.
They have made a commitment to rectifying the situation and even created a dispute centre to manage player issues with online casinos but since legal issues in the US prevented many online casinos from trading in their markets, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission has been losing licenses to EU approved jurisdictions at a rapid rate.
Malta is a popular licensing jurisdiction for online casinos and many of the great Microgaming powered online casinos are licensed here. While the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) of Malta is not a bad regulator, it hasn't really been outstanding either. There are certain guidelines in place to ensure online casino transparency in order to protect players, with casinos being compelled to ensure game fairness as well as prove that they have sufficient funds at all times to honour payments to players.
When it comes to player disputes emphasis is placed more on creating a "discussion forum" for all parties involved regarding the remote gambling environment rather than actively regulating the process.
Players who have disputes with EU based companies may sue them but the Maltese licensing authority will not assist you with any part of the process. The most they will do is try to facilitate contact with the casino in question on your behalf.
As you can see from the above, the licensing jurisdiction under which an online casino operates is of considerable importance and is not something that should be overlooked. To prove this point you'll find that the majority of rogue RTG powered online casinos operate in the dodgy licensing areas, giving them the opportunity to do business as they see fit. Avoid these and casinos like them at all costs.