Jurisdictions and licensing for online casinos

Each country has its own laws regarding online gambling, but while some laws are clear, others are quite murky, leaving many players unsure whether it is safe for them to play for real money at an online casino. To avoid any issues, the best bet is to play at an offshore casino licensed by a reputable gambling jurisdiction and accepts players from your country. We explain more about offshore casino licenses and the best jurisdictions for real money gambling online.

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Why play at a casino with offshore licensing?

The laws regarding online gambling vary between each country and it is up to you to be aware of the laws which apply to you. For further information, visit our region-specific pages to learn more about the online gambling legislation in your country and the trusted online casinos which will accept you.

As many countries have introduced laws prohibiting online gambling vendors from operating within their borders, players have turned to offshore casino sites as there are often loopholes in local gambling laws legally allowing players to do so. Offshore casinos cater to players from a wide variety of countries, although the countries accepted vary from venue to venue. You will need to check the terms and conditions of a casino site to see if you are eligible to sign up, or contact the customer service team via live chat to find out.

No matter the laws set by your country, playing at an offshore casino means you are playing under the laws set by the jurisdiction the casino is licensed in. Just because a casino is licensed offshore, it does not mean it is free to operate however it pleases – the most reputable online casinos are licensed by the best offshore gambling jurisdictions in the world and must adhere to strict laws and regulations set by the country of operation. Offshore sites are regularly audited to ensure they are running above board and putting player protection first.

Which are the best offshore gambling jurisdictions?

If you are not legally able to play at online casinos licensed in your country, playing at a legally licensed offshore casino is the best alternative. Be aware the best gambling jurisdictions are not necessarily the most recognisable. For example, if a casino claims to be licensed in the USA, Russia, Australia or certain European countries, it should be avoided at all costs as it is likely to be a rogue operator.

The best, most trustworthy casinos are licensed in the UK, Malta, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Alderney, Curacao and Kahnawake. We’ve provided an overview of each of the best offshore gambling jurisdictions below.

UK Gambling Commission

UK Gambling CommissionThe United Kingdom has some of the clearest laws of any country when it comes to online gambling, with all forms of gambling regulated under the UK Gambling Act of 2005. Online gambling was legalised in the UK to ensure safe real money play for residents, while the country also benefits from money earned through gambling tax revenue.

The UK Gambling Commission has the authority to issue online gambling licenses to vendors within the UK and certain offshore operators, and is a highly trustworthy jurisdiction for real money online casinos. The Commission is responsible for regulating all forms of gambling in the UK, including land based casinos, bingo, lotteries and electronic gaming machines, with a dedicated department which oversees all forms of online gambling. The major objectives of the UK Gambling Commission are to keep gambling crime-free, to ensure all gambling is fair and open, to protect children and vulnerable players from harm cause by problem gambling and to secure the maximum return to good causes from all revenue earned through the National Lottery. The Commission is sponsored by the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Malta Gaming Authority

Malta Gaming AuthorityThe Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is one of the most popular offshore gambling jurisdictions and is responsible for the licensing of many of our top-rated online casinos. The country is well known for its thriving gambling industry, both land based and online, and the MGA acts as the lone independent, regulatory body responsible for the governance of all gaming activities in the country. The aim of the MGA is to safeguard player’s rights, protect minors and vulnerable players, promote responsible gambling in a fair and safe environment, ensure the integrity of games, and keep gaming free from criminal activity. It is the duty of the MGA to ensure all licensed vendors are adhering to these rules, while ensuring the gambling sector makes a positive contribution to the development of the country.

Curaçao e-Gaming

Curacao GamingUnlike many of the other leading offshore gambling jurisdictions which are responsible for overseeing all gambling activity in the country of issue, Curaçao’s government supported e-Gaming license is designed specifically for the online gambling industry. It is this specialised focus which gives Curaçao-licensed casino sites a lot of credibility with players around the globe. Vendors seeking approval from Curaçao e-Gaming must go through a rigorous auditing process before receiving certification, as well as providing proof of strong financial standing. Once certified, all Curaçao casino licensees undergo continuous supervision and auditing to ensure player protection is always being met and all gaming activity is happening above-board.

Alderney Gambling Control Commission

Alderney Gambling Control CommissionEstablished in 2002, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) is an independent, third party responsible for overseeing and regulating the online gambling industry in the States of Alderney. The organisation runs under three distinct pieces of legislation: Alderney Gambling Law 1999, The Alderney eGambling Oridinance 2009 and The Alderney eGambling Regulations 2009 and maintains a close relationship with other authorities including the Guernsey Police. The AGCC exists to ensure all electronic gambling is conducted honestly and fairly in accordance with good governance, all electronic gambling is regulated to protect the young and vulnerable and all forms of electronic gambling remain free from criminal influence. All online casinos licensed in Alderney are audited and reviewed regularly and all complaints by aggravated players are followed up seriously.

Gibraltar Betting & Gaming Association

Gibraltar Betting & Gaming AssociationThe Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA) was established in 2005, before being recognised as an official corporation in 2013. The GBGA is the authoritative power on all issues relating to gambling in the region, and is a trade association respected by policy makers and regulators globally. The association operates under six core principals, including to ensure a safe, fair and competitive online gaming environment for all consumers while continuing to lead the online gambling industry by upholding the highest standards, safety, and overall offerings to consumers, while remaining one of the strictest regulators in the world. The GBGA aims to establish itself as the international leader in online gambling certification while promoting Gibraltar as a centre for excellence and integrity for online vendors.

Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission

The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission has been running since 1962, overseeing all forms of gambling in the country including land based and remote gambling activity. The Commission is responsible for the regulation of casino operations, lotteries, electronic gaming machines, sports betting, amusement games and online gambling, operating within the guidelines set by various legislations including the Gambling (Amendment) Act 1984, Online Gambling Regulation Act 2001, Gambling Supervision Act 2010, Casino Act 1986 and Gambling, Betting and Lotteries Act 2001. The major aim of the Gambling Supervision Commission is to keep the gambling industry free of crime, to protect minor and at-risk players, ensure fair services are offered and players receive their true winnings.

How to tell if an online casino is legally licensed

Now you can identify the global leaders in online casino licensing, you may be wondering how you can tell if an online casino is licensed by one of these trusted jurisdictions. This is pretty easy to do – if a casino is licensed by one of these jurisdictions, they will proudly display their certification. You can usually find this information by scrolling down to the bottom of the casino’s homepage, where the licensor will be displayed along with the gaming software providers and responsible gambling support links. Alternatively, you can find out more about the casinos licensing in the ‘About Us’ section of the venue, or within the terms and conditions. If you are still unsure, you can contact the customer service team and request details of their certification.

Play at any of the online casinos recommended on our site and you can rest assured you are playing at a casino site licensed by one of the trustworthy gambling jurisdictions mentioned above. Sign up using our links and you can get access to some exclusive new player welcome bonuses which include incentives like matched deposit bonuses and free spins on the slots.