When you’re picking out a crypto sportsbook or casino to play at, you will notice that a lot of them have licenses. But what do these licenses mean? Do they provide you with any additional security? Do they provide you with assurance? Do they invade your privacy?
Today, we’re going to take a look at the various cryptocurrency gambling licenses and break down what each one means for you, your account balances, and your privacy.
What is a crypto gambling license?
Government currency sportsbooks and casinos require a license in order to obtain bank accounts and payment processors, but cryptocurrency removes this barrier to entry. This is the only real difference between government currency licenses and crypto gambling licenses.
Regulatory bodies should still check various aspects of the crypto gambling site, including:
- Security of user funds.
- Fairness of gambling software.
- Ability to pay out wins.
- Acting in a fair and honest manner.
Any crypto sportsbooks or casinos found to be violating these areas will likely have their license revoked.
Which licenses do crypto gambling sites have?
If you want to quickly see if a crypto sportsbook or casino has a gambling license, you can scroll to the bottom of their home page. There will be a logo displaying the regulatory body and a link to verify that the license is valid.
At the time of writing, the majority of crypto gambling sites that we’ve reviewed hold a license from Curaçao. The full table below lists every gambling site and the license(s) that they currently hold.
Curaçao is the first choice for virtually all crypto sportsbooks and casinos as it’s quick, cheap and easy to obtain. It has a cost of around $36,000 as a one-off upfront payment, then it’s $6,000 a month every month for the first 2 years, which is a grand total of $180,000. After the 2 years period is up, the sportsbook or casino can negotiate a new fee structure. The whole process from applying to getting the Curaçao stamp of approval takes around 3 weeks. To top it off, there’s a flat 2% tax for entities holding this license.
Many people see the Curaçao license as the bare minimum. This is because the licensing agency doesn’t care what the license holders do, rarely checking in on them or following up. The Curaçao license prohibits people from Curaçao gambling at that establishment, a fact that speaks volumes about the lack of safety and security that it provides.
The Curaçao license does come with a set of restricted countries, and these countries are set out by the Curaçao license. Sportsbooks and casinos with the Curaçao license should comply with the list, but many will often throw caution to the wind and allow you to play from these restricted countries to deposit, play and withdraw. They will only come down on players that kick up a fuss, so if you don’t tell anyone you’re in a restricted territory, comply with all requests and don’t break any rules, you can play from just about anywhere in the world.
The Curaçao license is supposed to prevent players from the following countries:
- The Netherlands.
- St. Maarten.
- United Kingdom.
- United States of America.
Any country not on this list is considered fair game by the Curaçao license. Some sportsbooks and casinos will accept players from a few of the more “relaxed” countries on this list, but it all depends on that particular sportsbook or casino’s appetite for risk.
Pros of the Curaçao license:
- Often relaxed KYC.
Cons of the Curaçao license:
- No real protection for players.
- Few gambling establishments follow the rules.
- Nothing to lose attitude from betting sites.
- Limited background checks for license holders.
Malta is a well known tax haven, harboring a great deal of the government currency sportsbooks and casinos. With the rise of cryptocurrency gambling, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) set its sights on drawing in the crypto gambling crowd.
Offering lucrative tax incentives and unfettered access to European markets, the Malta license used to be regarded as one of the best crypto gambling licenses around. However, the Malta license has come under increased scrutiny in recent months following a string of allegations.
Former MGA CEO, Heathcliff Farrugia, conspired to obscure glaring breaches in anti-money laundering polices at Tumas Group casinos, owned by domestic terrorist Jurgen Fenech. Additionally, Malta licensed RaiseBet24.com was proven to have laundered $74.2 million for the Cosa Nostra.
The Malta license costs around €20,500 in one-time fees. Yearly fees are exorbitant, capping out at nearly €800,000 for crypto gambling sites with the highest turnovers. The application process can take up to 6 months. This is why you won’t see many crypto gambling sites with the Malta license as it’s too expensive and too much work for a bit of paper that carries no real weight or protection for players. Throw in all the corruption and scandals surrounding the license and you can see why the Malta license doesn’t have any real benefits for you as a player at a crypto gambling site.
Pros of the Malta license:
- Widely accepted in Europe (for now).
Cons of the Malta license:
- History of abuse from gambling companies.
- No real protection for players.
- Lax supervision of companies.
- High cost.
Only BetBTC (review) has decided to call Costa Rica its home for licensing purposes. There is no gambling license available in Costa Rica, despite the fact that gambling sites claim they’re licensed there. It costs $9,000 to get your hands on a “license”, which is actually a company registration, and the only requirement is that you have an “office” in the country. This can be a beach house, a PO box or an outhouse you rent from a local.
In return, gambling entities are blessed with the freedom to do anything they want. If you wish to complain, you’ll never get a reply as Costa Rica doesn’t have a body to oversee the online gambling industry. The “license” that gambling sites claim to have is more of a self-awarded accolade that sportsbooks and casinos stick on their sites to show that they have paid the fees to incorporate in the country.
Local banks don’t like to accept money from gambling related businesses, so sportsbooks and casinos that accept government currencies all use off-shore bank accounts. In return this allows them to use all sorts of tax loopholes to cut the payable tax down to a minimum.
This doesn’t mean that companies with this “license” are going to abuse you as a player, but it does leave you with your back up against a wall should something negative happen.
Cons of the Costa Rica license
- No regulatory body to oversee the industry.
- No protection for players.
- It’s not a license.
The only crypto gambling license that we’ve come across so far that carries a bit of weight is held by Cloudbet (review, American bettors are geo-blocked). Montenegro has been issuing gambling licenses since 2012, with relatively few scandals. Obtaining a license costs around $390,000 and is a straight forward process. Crypto betting establishments are then bound by the same rules and regulations as a government currency casino.
As a result, crypto gambling sites with this license are subject to comply with the following rules:
- National Anti-Money Laundering Regulations.
- Unusual Transactions Act.
- Counter-Terrorism Financing Regulation.
- Know Your Customer Policies.
If you make a complaint to the regulatory body in Montenegro, a thorough investigation will take place and you should receive an outcome within a few months. As far as crypto gambling licenses go, that’s a lot of security and personal assurance to help you sleep at night.
Pros of the Montenegro license
- Proactive government body.
- Player protection.
- Policies in place.
- Account for winnings verified and maintained.
Cons of the Montenegro license
- Intrusion of privacy with AML and KYC procedures.
Are crypto gambling licenses important?
When it comes to picking a new crypto sportsbook or casino to play at, it’s worth ignoring any licenses that the site has. More often than not they provide no real protection for you as a bettor, and a lot of sites break the rules anyway. Due to the fact that crypto sportsbooks and casinos can use their own wallets, there’s no real need for the license as banking and payment providers are removed from the equation. They’re simply there to give you peace of mind and open doors to quasi regulated gambling markets.
In fact, you’re more likely to be asked to complete some form of KYC at a licensed crypto sportsbook or casino, taking away any privacy and anonymity that you have by using crypto. There are numerous trustworthy, reliable, and top quality unregulated crypto sportsbooks and casinos out there, such as Nitrogen (review) and SwC (review). These are 2 of the longest running and most trustworthy crypto gambling sites, with 8 years of operation, no scams or mistreatment of players.
Casinos that offer live casino games are usually required to have a license in order to comply with the live casino provider’s requirements. Licenses are also required by white label sportsbooks and casinos. These companies give sportsbooks and casinos all the technology, back office systems and games, with the company that will run the individual betting site simply throwing on their colors and staffing it. The license is only required in this instance to cover the white label provider’s backs, rather than protect you as a player.
Instead of choosing a crypto gambling site based on licenses, pick a site of the highest overall quality with the best user experience that provides what you value. These are detailed in our honest crypto sportsbook reviews and crypto casino reviews or you can you can answer a few questions here and we’ll show you the best site for you!