Applying for a Gaming (Gambling) Licence in Malta, Isle of Man and Curacao

The online gambling industry is considered a lucrative and profitable business with a short payback period. There has been rising interest in the trade with such alluring terms even though not every country issues them. However, it is a prerequisite that companies that deal with online betting must obtain a licence for this type of activity.

Possessing a gaming license will value add to the prestige and credibility of a business. Moreover, a compelling licence typically helps business owners accept payments from players online via credit card and other payment methods, and licensees will conduct business in a more significant number of countries with fewer restrictions.

Sales projections for online gaming has been looking more promising as we progress into 2020. With more online users and increasing use of mobile devices, the number of people searching for online betting and casinos will also grow exponentially, leading to a rising pool of entrepreneurs looking to open online casinos.

As more attention gets drawn onto the trade, online gaming is heavily scrutinised due to several risks such as money laundering and fraud. Regardless, many jurisdictions have managed to strike the right balance between protecting the public and supporting the growth of the industry. Most governments have started to introduce new legislation and enhance old ones to regulate the industry. In the long run, these regulatory changes will yield a positive impact on the overall industry.

A handful of jurisdictions deal with e-gaming business permits; hence, for entrepreneurs who intend to apply for one, Malta, Isle of Man and Curacao would be the few that top the list.

In this article, a comparison will be conducted for all three jurisdictions to help new business entrants determine which jurisdiction is most suited for their business framework.

Gaming Licence in Malta with the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)

Malta – an alluring Mediterranean island state is one of the most popular jurisdictions for gaming licenses. In Autumn, the island is a hot spot for tourist as there is no sultry heat with a water temperature that is comfortable for swimming. Nonetheless, to obtain a licence, the business owner is not required to be physically in Malta.

Applying for a gaming license in Malta will also provide you with an advantage in other European markets. Malta offers political stability, healthy industrial relations, a pleasant and secure living environment, and evident cost advantages together with high productivity levels, a good infrastructure set-up with advanced telecommunications, and a more than adequate air and maritime distribution network.

Some of Malta’s license features and benefits include:

  • A strong national commitment to attracting foreign investment
  • Long-standing experience in FDI
  • High levels of investment productivity and profitability
  • High product quality
    • Industrial premises are available at competitive costs
    • Incentive packages on several operational areas
    • Support from Malta Enterprise
    • Valued close economic and cultural ties with neighbouring countries
    • Malta is home to over 200 world-class companies which account to over 85%of Malta’s business output

On the flip side, there are some facets to consider:

  • Lengthy application process and could potentially drag on from 6 months to a year
  • Potential refusal of licence should the applicant not have enough years of experience in the gaming industry
  • Higher cost compared to Curacao
  • The gaming licence is not comprehensive and may not be suitable for all types of gambling services
  • Tedious application requirements and process with a minimum authorised capital of EUR 40k

It is safe to say that the gaming licence in Malta is more suited towards applicants who have more experience in the gambling industry and would like to use it as a marketing tool to boost their credibility and status.

Gambling and e-gaming Licence in the Isle of Man with the Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC)

The Isle of Man is an island located in the Irish Sea between Ireland and Britain. Although it is a British Crown Dependency, it is not considered part of the United Kingdom and has its government. In the early 2000s, Isle of Man did not have any gaming companies. Since then, the government has done everything possible to revive the gaming industry. Thenceforth, the Isle of Man is considered a basic model for online gaming in countries that want to implement their e-gaming infrastructure. 

Some of Isle of Man’s licence features and benefits include:

  • Financially attractive with a corporate tax rate of 0%
  • The Isle of Man authorities have defined a gaming tax that applies to all gaming companies of 0.1% to 1.5% of the gross gaming yield rather than total turnover
  • Zero Capital Gains Tax
  • The Isle of Man regulator and gambling licence have a sterling international reputation
  • Remarkable infrastructure
  • The workforce is English speaking, experienced in the gaming sector and educated

On the other hand, applying for the licence also sees the following factors to take note of:

  • A higher annual fee compared to other jurisdictions
  • A higher level of bureaucracy with more diligence checks
  • More amount of paperwork.

eGaming Licence Curacao with the Curacao Gaming Control Board (GCB)

The island of Curacao has been a thriving financial services hub for approximately 200 years. The authorities issued the very first online gaming license in 1996. Since then, Curacao became a go-to place for online gaming start-ups looking for licensing.

The gambling license in Curacao is more cost-efficient than other jurisdictions. Besides, the requirements and obligations are less complicated and more streamlined. The straightforward procedures also mean that the license application time is comparably lower, making it an obvious choice for applicants that are looking to set up their business in a short time

Some of Curacao’s license features and benefits include:

  • 0% tax rate and no requirements for additional gaming taxes
  • In line with EU rules on fiscal practices and tax compliance
  • Relatively shorter application time

Albeit so, there are some points to deliberate on:

  • Operators see curacao licence as having lower licensing standards when compared to other stricter jurisdictions
  • Master licence holders and not the Gaming Commission audits the sublicenses
  • Master licence holders are allowed to grant sub-licenses to anyone. A sub-licence comes with all the benefits of a master license other than being able to lease out sub-licenses.
  • The master license holder is responsible for all activities of all sub-license holders.
  • A few prominent international markets are not open to Curacao licence holders

It is not easy to select a jurisdiction to start an online gaming/ gambling/ casino business. Many considerations are required in the licensing process as well as the company incorporation, banking, taxation, and other matters. There may be some jurisdictions that have restrictions on where businesses can offer gaming services.

Different jurisdictions will also have varying standards of policies, compliance, and other operational matters. Thus, it is essential to discuss and engage with professionals with extensive knowledge of the industry and each legislation’s complex requirements.

As an integrated business solutions provider, Desfran is equipped to oversee all business undertaking, taking each step with our customers from the beginning to the end, assisting new business owners to start on the right footing or for established businesses to thrive beyond countries.


Contact Desfran now for a free consultation.

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