Online Gambling Regulators and Licensing Agencies
The list of online gaming regulators and licensing bodies below contains the leading names in the industry. Online gambling regulation is complicated, because over 200 countries exist which might regulate or ban a form of gambling. Our list deals with countries on the extremes: either the great powers or the tiny countries. Nations like the United States, China, and Russia need to be considered. The national treasuries of tiny countries like Antigua and Barbuda, Gibraltar, and Belize depend on online gambling revenues, so they deal heavily in the iGaming business.
Establishing trust is important with any business. Whatever is the case in the brick-and-mortar business world is doubly true in online commerce. Anonymous individuals, sometimes thousands of miles away, ask for a customer’s money. More than that, they ask for credit card and banking information, which could be used for a variety of ill intentions.
Online gaming has as high of a hurdle as any Internet industry. Not only do online casino, sportsbook, and poker room operators need to convince customers they’ll be paid when they win, but those sites need to convince players the game is fair and random. The chief way to assure gamblers is to gain licensing from a trusted and legitimate online gaming regulator.
The vast bulk of gaming sites on the Internet obtain a license from one of the licensing agencies list below. If a site doesn’t have licensing, we recommend you avoid the website altogether. If it cannot take the trouble to obtain a license, it is untrustworthy and probably illegitimate.
Even if an online casino or poker site claims to have a license, you should check on sites like “Ask Gamblers” and “Casino Meister” to see what is said about the site. In several notorious cases, it has been proven that online gaming operators flat-out lie about their licensing status. Most sites are not like that, but it is recommended that gamblers verify a site’s licensing status with at least one outside and unbiased source.
Most of the agencies, governing bodies, and regulators listed below are trusted in the industry. A few are not. Readers should refer back to this list anytime they have a question about an online casino’s licensing.
Because the online gambling industry is a crazy patchwork of regulators, brand names, software providers, and third-party auditors, we have divided the list below into regional categories. This should help readers find the licensing authority they want to research quickly.
View Licensing and Regulatory Bodies by Region
- » Nevada Gaming Control Board
- » Delaware Division of Gaming Enforcement
- » New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement
- » Kahnawake Gaming Commission (Canada)
- » UK Gambling Commission
- » Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC)
- » Gibraltar Licensing Authority
- » Spanish Gaming Commission
- » ARJEL in France
- » Belgian Gambling Commission
- » Danish Gambling Authority (DGA)
- » AAMS of Italy
- » Malta Gaming Authority
- » Czech State Supervision of Gambling
- » Russia Roskomnadzor
- » FSRC (Antigua and Barbuda)
- » Curacao Internet Gambling Association
- » DAC (Aruba)
- » Gambling Supervision Commission (Isle of Man)
- » British Virgin Islands
- » Jersey Gambling Commission (Jersey Island)
- » Junta de Control de Juegos (Panama)
- » Ministerio de Economia (Costa Rica)
- » Belize Ministry of Economic Development
- » ACT Gambling and Racing Commission
- » Northern Territory Director-General of Licensing
- » FCLRC (Philippines)
- » Vanuatu Customs and Inland Revenue
- » China
- » Cyprus
The Nevada Gaming Control Board oversees land-based and online gambling for the state of Nevada. The NGCB was created in 1955 to oversee the burgeoning Las Vegas casino market. Since then, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has become a leader in the United States and international gaming industry.
When Nevada legalized online poker in 2013, the Gaming Control Board became a regulator of the small Internet poker industry. Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada signed an interstate poker compact with Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware in that year, so the Gaming Control Board stands to become a major factor in the interstate poker market, if other US states ever sign on to the compact.
The Division of Gaming Enforcement was established to help the Delaware Lottery with its duties. The DGE oversees the gaming activities, licensing, and background checks required for the state’s racetracks and off-track betting facilities. Since the tracks are involved in the online gambling industry, the DGE oversees the iGaming which takes place legally within the state. It was given this authority by the 145th Delaware State Legislature (2009-2011).
The Delaware State Lottery also has an “Internet Gaming” presence. Its oversight originally was meant only for the sale of online lotto tickets, but the role expanded when Delaware legislature regulated online casinos and poker in the state.
The online gaming industry in Delaware is limited to the three brick-and-mortar horse racing tracks: Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and Harrington Racecourse. The three tracks maintain the Casino Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and Harrington Online Casino.
The NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement was created in 1977 to regulate Atlantic City’s brick-and-mortar casino operations. The DGE is a respected and influential US gaming regulator, handling both New Jersey’s casino and horse racing industries. The current director of the DGE is David Rebuck.
When New Jersey legalized online gambling with a statewide vote in 2012, it was expected to oversee the online casinos and poker sites. That has proven to be the case since New Jersey’s rollout of online gambling in November 2013. Since that time, the DGE has improved the state’s self-exclusion program, become a leader in the geolocation technologies, updated credit card payment identification to help security and encourage signups, and extended licensing to some of the international gaming community’s biggest brand names.
The Division of Gaming Enforcement remains the only US regulatory authority to license PokerStars for operations in the post-Black Friday era. When the DGE allowed the PokerStars/Resorts Casino partnership to launch its poker and casino websites, many predicted New Jersey’s approval would lead to a wave of other agencies in the USA and western hemisphere doing the same. That has yet to be the case, but few states and nations have taken up the issue since PokerStars gained its license in the fall of 2015.
Established in 1996, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission is located on the First Nations reservation of the Mohawks of Kahnawake tribe, located just outside the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. While the Kahnawake Gaming Law of 1996 established the commission, it has only been a licensing authority since 1999.
The Mohawks of Kahnawake historically were a part of the Iroquois Confederacy. They run the Mohawk Internet Technologies Data Center, which houses the servers for all online casinos licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Their commercial wing is Continent 8 Technologies. The reservation is home to Snake’s Poker Club, VIP Poker Enterprises, and the Playground Poker Club.
The current members of the commission are Melanie Mayo, Lori Jacobs, and chairperson Mark Jocks. The Mohawks of Kahnawake Reservation is home to about 8,000 residents. The commission currently regulates 98 different license holders, including Bovada, Slots.lv, Ignition Casino, Aladdin’s Gold Casino, Allstar Slots, High Noon Casino, and Club World Casino.
The UK Gambling Commission is the regulator for all brick-and-mortar and online gambling in the United Kingdom(except sports betting). The UK Gambling Commission was founded with authority derived from the UK Gambling Act of 2005.
The passage of the Gambling Licensing and Advertising Bill in late 2014 gave the UK Gambling Commission more responsibilities, this time involving the Point-of-Consumption Tax. This tax was meant to target British gaming companies which moved offshore, usually to Gibraltar, to avoid the UK’s taxation on gambling. The Point-of-Consumption Tax imposed a standardized 15% tax on revenues taken from British residents, no matter where the company was based. All gambling operators servicing the UK Internet gambling community complained about the new tax, while a few left the British market.
The UK Gambling Commission, along with Gibraltar’s regulators, are consider to be among the most respected in the industry. Besides taxation, the UK Gambling Commission oversees advertising by gaming companies, which sometimes goes overboard in the United Kingdom.
The Gambling Supervision Commission has been the gaming regulation agency on the Isle of Man since 1962. When online gambling became a factor in the 1990s, the Manx gaming agency was poised to become a major factor in the growing industry. Today, the GSC is a key regulator, with nearly 100 license holders.
A partial list of the current license holders on the Isle of Man includes Rational Media (PokerStars), Microgaming, Paddy Power Holdings, Cozy Games, Luxbet, Asian BGE Limited, Novigroup, and Mondogoal (DFS). The current members of the Gambling Supervision Commission are Ron Spencer (chairperson), Jerry Carter (deputy chairperson), Jon Allen, Suzanne Collins, and Howard Callow.
The Alderney Gambling Control Commission was established in 2000 to license online gaming operators. Alderney is one of the Channel Islands in the English Channel between England and France. It is tiny, but has a business-friendly attitude. Alderney offers its license holders a 0% tax rate, and only collects a yearly fee from the operators.
The AGCC has a solid reputation in the industry, though its slow response in de-licensing Full Tilt Poker in the wake of the Black Friday Scandal spurred criticism. When Alderney did suspend the license, it led Full Tilt to shut down worldwide operations.
Jersey Island is another of the Channel Islands — the largest, in fact. The Jersey Gaming Commission was founded in 2010 to offer licenses to online casinos, sportsbooks, poker sites, software providers, and third-party testing labs. Because it was late to the party, the JGC has yet to license many operators. Jersey’s low tax rate and lack of restrictions make it a favorable place for online operators, though.
The Gibraltar Licensing Authority is one of the busiest and most respected online gaming regulators in the world. For a country of only 32,000 people, that’s impressive, though the tiny nature of Gibraltar is the reason why so much attention is paid to online gambling.
After Gibraltar fashioned pro-gambling laws in the 1990s, many UK-based online gambling companies relocated to Gibraltar. These companies are traded on the London Stock Exchange, but were able to skirt Gibraltar, because it was a tax shelter. By the time a new online gambling law was passed in Gibraltar in 2005, over 30 UK gaming companies were located in Gibraltar.
These brands are some of the most famous in the world: Ladbrokes, William Hill, 888 Casino, Betfair, Betfred, bet365, and Unibet are some of the companies licensed by Gibraltar. With a 1% tax rate on gaming revenues, it was no wonder so many chose to locate in Gibraltar. The UK’s Point-of-Consumption Tax has spoiled the party somewhat, but after a period of retrenchment and consolidation, the Gibraltar gaming sites have settled into a new business pattern.
The Comision Nacional del Juego or the Spanish Gaming Commission was established in 2014 to regulate Spain’s online gambling market. Since its inception in 2014, top international gaming companies have rushed to gain licensing in Spain. It is seen as one of the most promising emerging markets in the online gambling industry.
The Spanish Gaming Commission keeps Spain’s poker players segregated from the wider European poker market at present. There is talk of Spain signing an international poker compact with either France or Italy, or both. If this happens, then the combined player liquidity of those countries could spark a major increase in online poker in the three biggest countries which speak Romance languages.
The French online gambling authority is “Regulatory Authority for Online Games”, whose French translation creates the acronym “ARJEL“. The French Gambling Act of May 12, 2010, also known as Article 34 of Law No 2010-476, established ARJEL. The ARJEL committee has 7 permanent members, who are appointed by the President of the French Republic. Jean-Francois Vilotte is the current chairman of ARJEL, which is based in Paris, France.
ARJEL oversees French online gambling and land-based gaming. France has fairly strict laws, so online gambling takes place only in the most restricted cases. When the regulator was established in 2010, French Internet service providers (ISPs) did not give the organization much respect. When the Tribunal de grande instance de Paris (TGI or “High Court of Paris”) determined that ARJEL had the ability to fine ISPs huge amounts when they declined to follow ARJEL’s mandates, the French regulator became a force. ARJEL now has strict enforcement against online gambling operators active in France.
The Belgian Gambling Commission has a growing blacklist of sites which cannot operate inside the countries. Over 100 brands are now banned. Companies which gain licensing must set up specific Belgian-only websites and pay high taxes on the revenues. Especially in the online poker niche, this has a prohibitive effect on licensed online gambling in Flanders and Wallonia.
The Danish Gambling Authority has offered licenses to gambling companies since 2012. License holders must set-up Danish-only services, which have the high tax rate of 20% on gaming revenues. Only a few operators have become license holders, including Betway, Karamba, Tivoli Casino, and Dansk 777.
The Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato (Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies) of Italy is the online gambling regulator in the Italian peninsula. The AAMS is a result of a long move towards liberalization. This began in 2003, when the European Commission investigated the Italian online gambling industry. A 2006 report showed that 621 sites were on the blacklist and should have been banned. The list included websites which were licensed in other European countries, so the banned sites list was quite stringent.
Starting in 2010, the AAMS was created to begin the liberalization process. Since then, more legitimate European gaming sites have been licensed by Italy. The Italian gaming market has become one of the fastest-growing online gambling markets in the world. The Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies was founded in 1927 by the government of Benito Mussolini, for the purposes of overseeing the market in tobacco, salt, and quinine. Eventually, the state monopoly on salt and tobacco was rescinded. Instead, the AAMS got into the gaming sector (1988), eventually becoming a major factor in lotteries (1994) and bingo (2000).
The Malta Gaming Authority is another key licensing organization. The MGA began as the Lotteries and Gaming Authority. The MGA underwent reforms in 2015, stemming from the Everleaf Network situation. The MGA and Maltese authorities admit the Everleaf scandal hurt player trust, so they have been working this past year to rebuild trust in their oversight.
Many UK and European online gambling software developers have their headquarters in Valetta, Malta. Malta upholds EU standards when it comes to gaming law, but (like Gibraltar) Malta serves as a tax shelter. Because Malta was a part of the British Empire for nearly 150 years, the Maltese people are familiar with British law and the English language. As a small country which relies on tourism and Internet commerce for its revenues, the small island nation has become a haven for gaming operators.
A partial list of license holders in Malta includes top companies like Betfair, Digimedia Limited, Alea Gaming Limited (Net Entertainment), Apollo Entertainment Ltd (Microgaming), Rational Gaming Europe Limited (PokerStars), Unibet Ltd, BBML Group Limited, Bonnier Gaming Malta Limited (NYX Gaming, Net Ent), Casumo Services Limited, Co-Gaming Limited (Evolution, Amaya, Yggdrasil), Cryptologic, Boss Media, Headlong Limited, iGame Malta Limited, Interwetten, Mangas Gaming Malta Limited, Mr Green Limited, Panda Media Limited, Realm Entertainment, Betway Limited, eSports Media Limited, Betsson Platform Solutions, Bwin.Party Services, and GTECH. A full list would be hard to include in limited space, but it is impressive.
The Ministry of Finance in the Czech Republic has the authority to offer online gambling licenses to domestic and international operators. The authority to regulate online gambling was conferred by the 2012 Lottery Act. Licenses are issued by the State Supervision of Gambling and Lotteries Department, which is an agency within the Czech Ministry of Finance.
For a time, the Czech regulators allowed domestic operators to maintain licensing, while banning foreign companies. The five domestic license holders were Sazka, Fortuna, Tipsport, Synot Tip, and Chance.
In 2015, the Gambling and Lotteries Department offered 20 licenses to foreign companies, with 20 being the maximum number of companies allowed to hold licenses. This touched off a controversy, because around 30-35 foreign operators applied for licenses. Companies like 888 Holdings were held out of the market. In early 2016, Czech officials reversed positions, allowed up to 40 licenses. Companies like 888 Poker were allowed in the country. 888 now has a licensing deal with King’s Casino Rozkadov, a top land-based casino in the Czech Republic.
The Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) is the chief regulator of online gambling in the Russian Federation. On official sites, Roskomnadzor is said to assist the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation in its duties. The Ministry of Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation, also known as “The Russian Communications Ministry”, is headed by Vladimir Putin’s friend, Nikolai Nikoforov. Most directives and announcements are handled by Roskomnadzor, though.
Regulation of online gambling in Russia is as meandering and complicated as the hierarchical structure of regulators. In 2004, the Russian Federation passed laws which allowed mobile gambling to take place, but these liberties were removed in 2006. The year 2006 is important for Russian gamblers, because that is the year that Vladimir Putin banned most forms of gambling in the Russian Federation, based on his deep Russian Orthodox faith. Moscow casinos were closed, while any form of land-based gambling was moved to one of four special administrative districts located on the frontiers of Russia — far away from the popular centers.
Online casinos, sportsbooks, and poker sites continued to accept Russian players, but most operators were offshore operators (with exceptions for Russian sportsbooks). In 2010, a law was passed which allowed officials to find individual gamblers between 500 and 2000 rubles for gambling illegally. In 2012, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that no form of online gambling should be found on Russian search engine results. Though a court in Pskov earlier had said that Russian ISPs were not obligated to block gaming sites, that ruling was overturned in 2012.
In March 2014, Roskomnadzor released a blacklist of over 50 websites of both domestic and international operators, effectively banning them from Russian activity. In July of 2014, the Russian Finance Ministry claimed to be looking into regulation and taxing of online poker. Later in the same year, the Duma passed Bill 478806-6, which effectively criminalized online poker. Since that time, Roskomnadzor periodically has announced new sites which have been added to the blacklist, including sites like Ladbrokes, 888 Poker, bwin.party, Titan Poker, Unibet, Betway, Pinnacle Sports, JackpotCity, and Marathon Bet. Even Poker Listings, a prominent review site which published jackpot information was banned. Russian bookmakers were not spared, as Liga Stavok, 1xbet, Favbet, Fonbet, and TrioBet were all banned.
In January 2015, the Russian Federation announced that online gambling operators needed to join a self-regulatory organization (SRO), with members funneling taxes through the SRO. This was supposed to allow the Russian government to better see which sites were operating as regulated sites, thus allowing officials to better police the unregulated sites. It is uncertain how many operators trusted the Russian Federation enough to sign up for the SRO.
In January 2016, the Russian Federation’s Civic Chamber said it was considered declaring poker a game of skill, which would have paved the way for regulation and taxation. The Russian Ministry of Finance said later in the year that it was considering the licensing of sports betting, along with assessing a 10% tax on such gaming. Those familiar with the Russian Federation’s spotty history on gambling are likely to be skeptical of such pronouncements.
At one time, Cyprus was a significant hub of licensing for online casinos and poker sites. The Cypriot licensing agency was considered a bit suspect in the online gambling industry, though a number of gaming companies were based out of Nicosia, Cyprus. In 2012, the Cypriot government banned all forms of gambling, except fixed-odds sports betting and lotteries. Even betting exchanges are banned. 270 sites are on the black list in Cyprus, and Cypriot ISPs are required to block those sites.
The Financial Services Regulatory Commission’s Division of Gaming oversees licensing for online operators in Antigua and Barbuda. The FSRC Gaming Division was founded in 1994 as one of the first online betting licensing authorities. It has been a leader in the industry for the past 22 years, often championing the rights of small countries to uphold international commerce laws.
In 2003, Antigua sued the United States government in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) international court. Antigua argued that the US government had violated the 1998 General Agreement on Trade Services (GATS), which stated it would not ban international businesses from activities which were not banned inside a country. Because the United States had signed the GATS treater and also allowed various kinds of gambling, Antigua argued the USA was in violation of international law by trying to punish license holders in Antigua and Barbuda.
Antigua and Barbuda won the WTO case, then won a later round of litigation in 2013, after two US administrations chose to ignore the WTO ruling. In the 2013 case, the WTO court ruled that Antigua could seek financial redress with the United States by selling pirated US intellectual property (movies, music, tv shows in DVD/CD/Blu-ray form). Antigua decided not to dabble in such sales, as it would hurt American artists.
In 2008, the UK government whitelisted Antigua’s online gambling sites. This meant that license holders could advertise in the United Kingdom. In 2010, Antigua signed a deal with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which stated that holding a license from one authority conferred rights and privileges in the other licensing authority’s domain.
The Curacao Internet Gambling Association (Curacao) is the online gaming regulator for the island nation of Curacao. Curacao is a Caribbean island nation in what used to be called the Netherlands Antilles, before independence.
Though Curacao has a constituent government, it is nominally a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. (This is like Australia still viewing the Queen of England as their monarch, despite independence.) Curacao is influenced by the Dutch legal system and culture, and is considered a trustworthy online gambling licensing authority. CIGA was founded in 2002, despite the country doing a brisk business in online gambling since 1993. The picture of the offshore online gambling operator is partly formed by the startups located in Curacao.
Some of that image is unfair. For instance, the Affactive Group (Casino Titan, WinPalace) and Revenue Jet (Loco Panda, Grand Macao) claimed to have been licensed in Curacao. After months of operating as rogue casinos, Casino Meister thought to call CIGA about licensed these rogue sites, only to learn that CIGA had never even heard of the particular sites in question.
Readers will be happy to know that the Affactive and Revenue Jet owners eventually got their just rewards, but not because of their online gambling scams. The owners were arrested in Israel and extradited to the United States to answer charges they masterminded a cyber-attack against J.P. Morgan-Chase and 10 other US financial institutions, in the largest-ever cyber-attack in the United States. They still await trial on 30 charges which would put them in prison for the rest of their lives. Real licensing is handled by the Curacao E-Gaming Licensing Authority.
CIGA’s policies are considered very business-friendly. The tax rate is about 2% of revenues. Also, operators can offer sub-licenses, allowing them to set up alternative sites with the same license. Curacao has few jurisdictional restrictions, so operators can accept players from most locations — except the Netherlands.
Aruba’s gaming regulator handles brick-and-mortar and online gambling. Aruba’s first casino was built in 1959, the same year Castro was shutting down Havana’s casinos. Soon enough, Aruba became known as the “Las Vegas of the Caribbean”, as the casino culture helped draw tourists.
When the Internet appeared, Aruba became a licensing authority for online gambling sites. Aruba is similar to Curacao, as it once was a part of the Netherlands Antilles and it remains part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The British Virgin Islands bans all forms of online gambling. However, the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission (BVIFSC) licenses binary options traders. 14 such binary options operators are licensed by the British Virgin Islands FSC.
The Panama Gaming Control Board (Junta de Control de Juegos) was created in 2002 to provide licensing to legitimate online gambling companies which service the Panamanian and international markets. Panama has strong standards when it comes to anti-money laundering policies and third-party software testing. If a site is licensed by the Panamanian government, it is trusted.
The PGCB has low taxes and fees. The Panamanian government represents a stable Latin American government with access to one of the world’s most reliable man-made resource: The Panamanian Canal. Panama has worldwide commercial ties, because of the canal, as every virtually every nation in the world uses their canal. As the Panama Papers and Mossack Fonseca story illustrates, Panama’s financial system is sophisticated.
The Ministry of Finance in Costa Rica oversees gambling, though Costa Rica has no laws which regulate online gambling. Readers might find that as strange, since Costa Rica is home to over 300 different online gambling companies. In fact, Costa Rica is one of the biggest hubs of online gambling activity, with many gaming sites (5Dimes) and software developers (RealTime Gaming) based in the country.
The Costa Rican Ministry of Finance has a decidedly hands-off approach to online gambling. In 2016, the United States government complained that 5Dimes Casino & Sportsbook was encouraging customers to buy Amazon gift cards in order to receive payments in the United States from 5Dimes. US authorities claimed the site could be using such methods to help organized crime launder money, and asked Costa Rican authorities to investigate. An official at the Ministry of Finance declined to do so, saying he would investigate credible evidence of money laundering, but would not enforce US laws in Costa Rica based on spurious claims. In rejecting the US directives, he mentioned that he would not enforce anti-online gambling laws, because Costa Rica has no laws against online gambling.
The Finance Ministry does collect small amounts of cash from the online gaming companies. Each is assessed as $5000 a year data processing fee, along with $500 a year for legal costs. In 2013, Costa Rican government suggested it might regulate and tax online gambling. The taxes would be 0.5% of gross revenues for licensing officials, a 5% tax to fight against organized crime, and a $50,000 fee for licensing, which would have to be renewed every 6 years. In the three years since, no legislative action has been taken to pass an online gambling bill.
Under the auspices of the Belizean Ministry of Economic Development in the Sir Edney Cain Building in the city of Belmopan, the Belize Computer Wagering Licensing Board oversees the online gambling industry in Belize. The Computer Wagering Licensing Board was created in 1995 by Belize’s Computer Wagering Licensing Act, which gave the board the authority to review gaming applications and offer licenses.
In 2004, the Belizean Prime Minister reduced the online licensing fees from $50,000 to $15,000. At the time, other changes were made to streamline the process and encourage operators to seek licensing in the small Central American country. Taxes relatively high, as a fee up to 15% is assessed when issuing prizes. Also, a nominal fee of either $20 or 5% of the transaction is charged on each processing fee.
Dealing with Belizeans is much different than dealing with other officials in Central America. Belize was a small outpost of the British Empire for centuries, so the tiny nation is the only country in Latin America which has English as its official language. English Common Law also forms the foundation of the Belizean legal system. For English-speaking operators, this is a further reason to do business in Belize.
The Australian Capital Territory (around Canberra) has a regulator of Internet gambling, the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission, which offers licensing to online racebooks and lotteries. Most of the international online gaming companies have sought a license from this regulator, because of the lucrative nature of Australian gambling. No other nation on the planet spends more per capita on gambling than Aussies. The ACT Gambling and Racing Commission has high taxes and high fees, but the revenues offset those rates.
Australia’s online gambling sites are governed by the Interactive Gaming Law of 2001 (IGA). Social Services Minister Scott Morrison, a key official in the government of Malcolm Turnbull, has called for a study on the IGA law. Anti-gambling advocates and Australia’s land-based lottery monopolies have called for new laws to punish international online betting operators, and stories appear in the Aussie media about the dangers of in-play betting apps for mobile bookmakers. Barry O’Farrell, the former Premier of New South Wales, was hired to conduct the research, which called for a comprehensive update to Australia’s online gambling laws. It is possible the regulatory framework could change radically in the next year or two.
The Northern Territory abolished a previous regulatory agency, the Northern Territory Licensing Commission, in 2015. The Northern Territory Director-General of Licensing replaced the Licensing Commission, to license foreign gaming companies. Most of the licenses offered are for the sale of international lottery tickets online. The major restriction is that the companies must be based in countries which allow the sale of Australian lottery tickets to their residents.
The Northern Territory Licensing Commission followed the pattern of the normal regulatory body worldwide. It was created in one of Australia’s most remote regions, which had a relative dearth of revenue options. With a lack of revenue sources, online gaming licensing fees were seen as a way to raise cash. Non-lotto gaming is sometimes licensed, but this is not as common, perhaps because potential license holders would prefer to gain licensing from the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission.
The First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corporation (FCLRC) is a licensing authority based in the Philippines. Licensing fees vary, depending on the services online sites wish to offer. Cagayan is a region and a province in the northernmost part of the Philippines, on the island of Luzon. The region consists of the Cagayan Valley and the Babuyan Islands. Viewers of the TV show, Survivor, might remember Cagayan from the 27th and 28th seasons.
Besides the FCLRC, the Philippines has another major regulator, PACGOR. Pacgor, formed from the acronym for the Spanish translation of “Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation”, strangely is both a regulator and a casino operator. Thus, the organization charged with overseeing the Philippines’s brick-and-mortar gaming industry also runs some of the operations. This conflict of interest has caused significant issues with Filipino gaming law, because Pacgor convinced the Parliament to give land-based casino operators exemptions from anti-money laundering laws. In early 2016, it was learned that hackers of the Central Bank of Bangladesh tried to launder $100 million of stolen cash through Manila casinos (sent from US banks owns by the Central Bank of Bangladesh). While Bengali and US authorities were able to retrieve $20 million in funds from banks in Sri Lanka, the Filipino anti-money laundering exemptions made it next-to-impossible for the authorities to track the funds which went to the Philippines.
A scandal ensued and, currently, legislative hearings are being held to investigate the law. Reforms are likely. As PACGOR regulates the land-based Filipino casino industry only, this might not be of any interest to online gamblers, except for other currents of thought in Manila. At times in the recent past, Filipino lawmakers have called for Pacgor to be made into an online gambling regulator. With so much money at stake and new laws certain to be enacted, it is possible Pacgor could offer online gambling licenses in the near-future.
Vanuatu is a small archipelago in the South Pacific located east of New Guinea, west of Fiji, and southwest of the Solomon Islands. Vanuatu was claimed by the Spanish Empire in 1606, but Spanish rule gave way to British and French claims in the 1880s. In 1906, the two ended their rival claims and agreed to govern Vanuatu jointly. This lasted until the 1970s, when an independence movement formed in earnest. In 1980, independence was achieved.
The government of Vanuatu has tried to become a hub of online gambling regulation, offering low taxes (0.1%), reasonable laws, and an impressive-sounding support apparatus. This has failed to draw many online gaming operators, perhaps due to the remote location of Vanuatu and saturation of the Internet gaming licensing niche. Despite the lack of great interest, the Vanuatu Customs and Inland Revenue Service has a solid reputation in the industry.
Online Gambling in China
It is illegal to gamble at an online casino or poker sites in Mainland China. Certain state-sponsored sports betting and lottery gambling is allowed, through two massive gaming organizations: The China Sports Lottery and The China Welfare Lottery. The State Council authorized both lotteries, as well as a non-gaming government overseer for each.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs was authorized to oversee the Chinese Welfare Lottery (sometimes called the China Welfare Lottery Issuance Center or “CWLC”) in 1987. The General Administration of Sports was authorized to oversee the Sports Lottery in 1994. These organizations have sold lottery tickets online at times and have a wide-ranging network for doing so, with local affiliates (for lack of a better word) selling tickets in individual provinces. Online lottery ticket sales have been suspended at times, when corruption scandals have happened.
Despite laws against illegal online gambling, it is estimated that billions of dollars a year are wagered illegally on the Internet, either through Chinese domestic websites or on international online gambling sites. Article 303 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China outlaws most forms of gambling. Fines and a fixed-term imprisonment of “not more than 3 years” is imposed on those who partake in illegal gaming. Crimes involving vices like gambling, drug use, drug peddling, and prostitution sometimes involves “re-education through labor”, though that method of behavior modification also involves crimes like petty theft, fraud, and fighting.
China has no single online gambling regulator, because of the ban on non-state gaming on the Internet. A patchwork of national, regional, and local authorities police such activities.