Overview of Offshore Gambling Jurisdictions

So, you haven’t given up on your idea to start a casino on your own. Good! Initiative and ambition are key to succeeding with an endeavour like this.

And you want to get your own license/operation? Are you sure you don’t want a whitelabel solution? Really? All right, then…

Over the years, I have formed, worked at, consulted for, or otherwise been engaged in gambling operators from most corners of the world. A lot of people see forming a casino as a get-rich-quick scheme, when in reality it’s not. Starting an online gambling operation requires time, money, knowledge, marketing experience, banking connections, and – again – money. If you lack knowledge, marketing experience, and banking connections, give money to the right people and they will do it for you.

In this post, I will be going through some of the major as well as a couple of minor online gambling (igaming) jurisdictions – and some interesting offline gambling licenses. This will not be in-depth. Instead, more in-depth articles on the most interesting jurisdictions will come in the future.

While this post uses terminology indicating what is or isn’t legal or regulated, this is as always not legal advice and you’d be a very special kind of fool to use this post as a reliable source. There are legal professionals out there who can help you and give you legal advice.

In many cases of high cost of operation, it’s possible to operate from elsewhere. For example, you can hold an Italian gambling license without operating in the nightmare that is Italian business climate. Instead, several Italian igaming license holders operate from Malta. It is often sufficient to have a legal entity which holds the license, but which is owned and operated by a foreign company.

You’re going to need an atlas for this one.

Åland Islands

  • Finnish territory.
  • Effectively limited to a state-run monopoly.
  • Does not issue new licenses.


  • Does not issue licenses, but permits foreign license-holders to operate from within Albania.
  • Likely to change law in near future to kick out foreign license-holders.
  • Unlikely to start issuing its own licenses.


Antigua and Barbuda

  • One of the Caribbean’s finest.
  • Low tax. Low cost.
  • Pretty good reputation for gambling.


  • Fickle, unreliable regulator and authorities.
  • Medium tax.
  • Medium costs of operation.


  • Quite poor reputation, due to lacking oversight.
  • Easy-going; probably too easy-going. That is, if you can even find them.
  • Low tax and low license costs.
  • Low costs.


  • Strict limitations on bet amounts.
  • Highly reputable.
  • High costs of operation.
  • Medium to high tax.


  • Gambling operations restricted to certain territories (Tasmania, Norfolk Island, Victoria).
  • Only useful for Australia.
  • Moderate to low tax.
  • Moderate license costs.


  • Regulated market.
  • High costs.
  • Only useful for Belgium.


  • Medium tax. Belize gambling license holders are not your usual zero-tax IBCs.
  • Quite low license costs.
  • Low costs of operation.
  • Little-known jurisdiction.


  • Legal vacuum. Not entirely unlike Costa Rica.
  • Should probably not target Bolivian players.
  • High tax.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Srpska)

  • Licenses issued by Republica Srpska.
  • Dubious legality.
  • Not yet recognized by Bosnia and Herzegovina itself, but not clamped down on either.


  • Very few licensees so far, due to previously very high tax.
  • Medium to low tax.
  • Low costs.
  • Regulated market.
  • Only good for Bulgaria.

Canada (Kahnawake)

  • Mohawk territory – outside of any Canadian control.
  • Low tax.
  • Medium high costs of operation.
  • Home to several well-known brands.
  • Good reputation.


  • A handful of foreign companies have been licensed.
  • Barely any license law. All done on case-by-case basis.
  • High tax.


  • Likely to enact gambling friendly laws in the near future.

Comoros (Anjouan)

  • Has seen civil war in the last decade.
  • Quite possibly the igaming jurisdiction with the worst reputation in the world.
  • Not taken seriously.

Costa Rica

  • Legal vacuum: it’s legal because it’s not illegal.
  • No license requirements at all, which also means no player protection, which damages the reputation.
  • Low tax. No tax.
  • Low costs.


  • Igaming licenses only available to land-based casino present in Croatia.


  • One of the Caribbean’s finest.
  • Easy-going, lax regulation.
  • Low license costs.
  • Low tax.
  • Low costs of operation.
  • Has a fairly clever legislation of master and sub licenses.
  • See also Jurisdiction Spotlight: Curaçao.


  • Was unregulated for a long time but suddenly threw out gambling operators.
  • Currently only licenses sportsbettings (fixed odds) and lotteries.
  • Low to medium tax.
  • Low costs of operation.
  • Poor reputation in the igaming sector.

Czech Republic

  • Tried and failed (due to lack of interest) a licensing legislation.
  • Likely to try again in 2015/2016.
  • Low costs of operation.
  • Decent reputation.


  • Regulated market.
  • Only suitable for Denmark.
  • Requires integration into national ID database.
  • Medium tax; surprisingly low for being one of the highest tax countries in the world.


  • Another Caribbean try-hard.
  • Very few licenses issued.
  • Low tax.
  • Decent potential, with plenty of low-cost English-speaking staff available.

Dominican Republic

  • Flip-flopping legislators.
  • High tax, maybe.
  • Unclear if issuing licenses for online gambling.


  • Legal vacuum. Similar to Bolivia above.
  • High tax.


  • Probably the only gambling-positive Muslim jurisdiction.
  • Laws written before Arab Spring.
  • Unclear if new government will continue to issue licenses.
  • Medium taxes.
  • Low costs.


  • Regulated market.
  • Only suitable for Estonia.
  • Low tax.
  • Low costs.


  • Only Italy has a less competent gambling authority, though the cluelessness competition is fierce.
  • Quite high tax.
  • High costs.
  • Regulated market.
  • Only suitable for France and French overseas departments and territories.


  • While completely legal, effectively only used for terminals at resorts.
  • Very few igaming licenses issued and actually used.
  • Medium tax.


  • Grossly incompetent and business-hostile legislators.
  • The wealthy state of Schleswig-Holstein made an attempt to legislate online gambling but later stopped.
  • High tax.
  • High costs.


  • Very, very limited international exposure.
  • Medium taxes.
  • Low costs of operation.
  • Very few licenses issued.


  • Excellent jurisdiction.
  • Low tax.
  • Medium costs of operations.
  • Highly reputable jurisdiction.
  • Excellent gambling authority.
  • Strong player protection.
  • See also Jurisdiction Spotlight: Gibraltar.


  • Caribbean try-hard.
  • No big names are licensed here.
  • Less than 10 licensees in total.
  • Low tax.
  • Low costs of operation.

Guernsey (Alderney)

  • Reputable, well-regulated market.
  • Low tax.
  • Medium to high costs.
  • Home to several large operators as well as gambling software suppliers.
  • Sark – also a part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey – also issues online gambling licenses.
  • See also Jurisdiction Spotlight: Guernsey.


  • High license costs.
  • Unattractive.

India (Sikkim)

  • The government flip-flops on the gambling regulation more than a fresh fish in a frying pan with salt.
  • High tax.
  • Low costs.
  • Underdeveloped region and country.
  • Extremely remote. If you thought your flight was long, just wait for the even longer ride by car up the mountains. Buy travel insurance. And life insurance.


  • Tolerates supporting operations of gambling but not direct offer of online gambling from Ireland.
  • Online gambling licenses expected by 2015/2016.

Isle of Man

  • Reputable, well-regulated market.
  • Low tax.
  • Quite high costs of operation.
  • Home to several large software suppliers and skins and whitelabels operated through the suppliers.
  • Some of the largest operators are licensed here.
  • See also Jurisdiction Spotlight: Isle of Man.


  • World champion in gross incompetence.
  • Unattractive tax.
  • Italian bureaucracy.
  • Regulated market.
  • Only suitable for Italy.


  • Only once license issued.
  • Very little is known.
  • Unresponsive regulator.


  • Overall small and quite insignificant.
  • Has not yet issued any gambling license to operators.
  • Has issued two licenses for provision of remote gambling web hosting as well as three independent software testing providers.
  • Low tax.
  • High costs.
  • Reputable.
  • See also Jurisdiction Spotlight: Jersey.


  • High license costs (1 million LVL minimum).
  • Medium to low tax.
  • Low costs of operation.
  • Ownership majority must be within EU.
  • Decent reputation, although mainly as a hub for software providers and live dealers.


  • Very uncertain market.
  • Only a handful of licenses given out. Bribes probably involved.
  • Casino games are disallowed, whereas all other types of games are allowed.
  • Corrupt and quite high tax.


  • Has only issued one license so far.
  • Low costs.
  • Unknown tax rates; probably medium to high.


  • The premier gambling jurisdiction in Asia but does not presently issue online licenses.
  • Quite reputable internationally; most reputable in Asia.
  • Low tax.
  • Lost costs of operations.
  • Somewhat overwhelming bureaucracy but it’s getting better.
  • See also Jurisdiction Spotlight: Hong Kong and Macau.


  • Excellent jurisdiction. My personal favourite.
  • Responsive and cooperative gambling authority.
  • Low tax.
  • Low costs for hiring staff, setting up office, server hosting, et cetera.
  • Reasonable license costs and application fees.
  • Strong player protection.
  • Home to hundreds of licensed operators and thousands of brands, skins, and white labels.
  • See also Jurisdiction Spotlight: Malta.


  • Legal vacuum; probably legal to offer gambling from Moldova without a license.
  • Government is moving towards licensing online gambling. Slowly.
  • Corrupt. Bad reputation.
  • Low to medium tax.
  • Low costs.


  • Fairly young (2011) igaming jurisdiction, trying hard to be recognized.
  • Relatively cheap license.
  • Poor international reputation, but steadily improving.
  • Low tax.
  • Low costs of operation.
  • Gambling-friendly banks.


  • Regulated market.
  • Only useful for the Netherlands.
  • Decent tax.
  • High costs of operation.


  • Only a handful of licenses issued.
  • Unclear license costs.
  • Bad reputation.


  • Quite reputable, well-regulated igaming.
  • Low tax.
  • Quite low costs of operation.
  • Relatively low license costs.


  • Legal vacuum. Similar to Costa Rica but without the friendly mindset.
  • Government is skeptical, even hostile, and likely to regulate the market.


  • Only one license issued.
  • Medium tax.
  • Low costs of operation.
  • Virtually unheard of.
  • Highly intrusive government control.

Philippines (Cagayan Special Economic Zone)

  • Unclear if recognized by the Philippine national government.
  • Bad reputation in the west for its lawless beginnings; OK reputation across Asia-Pacific.
  • Over 80 licenses issued.
  • Low tax.
  • Low license costs.
  • Medium costs of operation.


  • Only licenses sportsbetting operators.
  • Likely to monopolize casino, poker, and other forms of gambling.
  • High tax.
  • Low costs.


  • Known as a place that will license anything for the right amount of money.
  • Poor reputation.
  • Medium tax.
  • Relatively high license costs.
  • Untested of the license regime is compliant with EU law.
  • Low costs of operation.

Saint Kitts and Nevis

  • Issues blanket licenses, which do not differentiate between online gambling and brick-and-mortar casinos.
  • Low tax.
  • Low costs of operation.
  • Easy-going regulation.
  • License costs are moderate.
  • Mediocre reputation.

Saint Vincent and The Grenadines

  • Caribbean try-hard.
  • Has not issued a single license.
  • Low tax.
  • Probably low costs of operation.


  • Regulated market.
  • Medium to low costs.
  • Only useful for Serbia.
  • Poor reputation.


  • Has not issued a single license, despite laws being in place since 2003.
  • Likely to start issuing licenses in the near future. No one likely to respect them, barring major legislative changes.


  • Has license legislation but only one license issued so far.
  • Government not particularly gambling positive.


  • Incompetent authority.
  • Regulated market.
  • High tax.
  • Only useful for Spain.


  • So far, only once license issued.
  • Low costs of operation.
  • Moderate license costs.
  • Relatively low tax.


  • While legal, no one has dared apply for a license (or paid the necessary bribes).
  • Corrupt.
  • International eye-sore.

United Kingdom

  • Highly reputable.
  • Responsive and relatively easy-going regulator and authorities.
  • Very strong player protection.
  • Medium taxes.
  • High costs of operation.


2 Comments on "Overview of Offshore Gambling Jurisdictions"

  1. Egypt has many casinos.
    On online gaming, you surprise me. there is NO egambling law. Egambling is not regulated, and therefore illegal.

    • You’re right that Egypt currently does not regulate online gambling, but it’s still on this list for the same reason for example Macau is. I can see how it might be confusing, so I changed some phrasing.

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