There are two approaches to this: licensed or unlicensed.
Having a license in a reputable gambling jurisdiction comes with a wide range of advantages, such as being able to market with few restrictions, easier to get payment providers onboard, reliability in the eyes of customers, and accountability. Below are the main reputable online gambling jurisdictions:
- Alderney (UK)
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Gibraltar (UK)
- Guernsey (UK)
- Kahnawakee (Canada)
- Macao (China)
- United Kingdom
Getting a license within the European Union requires quite large capital and licensees are subject to yearly audits and other things which is likely to be out of scope to the readers of this post. Asian gambling licenses are slightly more permissive.
This leaves us with Caribbean gambling license jurisdictions. These are far more easy-going. A license in Curaçao only costs around US$ 10,000 per year, depending on a number of factors. Taxation is low, varying at around just a few percent. Antigua and Barbuda is more or less on the same line.
Costa Rica and Online Gambling
Costa Rica has clearly defined laws for offline gambling (brick and mortar casinos and betting shops), but it has a complete absence of laws that regulate online gambling. Costa Rica is not unique in this regard. Many former Soviet countries lack or have very vague laws about online gambling. However, Costa Rica has embraced this and has no intentions of changing its legislation.
In short, there is no such thing as a Costa Rica gambling license. If anyone is selling you that, you are being conned. Any company in Costa Rica can offer online gambling services. These companies usually block Costa Rica IP addresses, as they would otherwise have to pay tax on income from Costa Rica residents.
Online Gambling in the Seychelles
The Seychelles has formulated a very interesting form of company called CSL: Company with Special License. These companies can undertake any activity which the ministry of finance accepts, including gambling. These companies are not as anonymous as IBCs and pay a nominal tax rate of 1.5%, but can be used for gambling.
Audits are required but are generally very lax. For better or worse, the Seychelles is desperate for any income.
Online Gambling in Cagaya (Philippines)
On the northern end of the Philippines lies the Cagayan Special Economic Zone, which is a semi-autonomous region where gambling is legal and online gambling licenses are being issues. This is believed to be contrary to Philippine law, but very little real action has been taken.
Several Asian-facing casinos are licensed here and the licensing process is both quite simple and cheap.
Offshore Payments for Online Gambling
Your options are quite limited here, if you are a start-up with low capital. Short of the shady and difficult to use e-wallets (Liberty Reserve, Pecunix, PerfectMoney, SolidTrustPay, and their ilk) and BitCoins, you will find it difficult to get any established brands to enter a processing agreement with you.
If you are serious about your start-up online casino but cannot afford to go for one of the most reputable jurisdictions, attend industry conferences and network with payment providers. A good personal relationship will override almost any company policy on not accepting certain types of merchants.
This is out of scope for this blog, but something to keep in mind is that most top-tier software vendors (game suppliers) do not work with unlicensed or disreputable jurisdictions.