What are the hottest jurisdictions for a gaming license in 2021?

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Given Porat Group’s solid reputation as a gaming law firm, and especially when it comes to gaming licenses, we often get questions regarding different gaming jurisdictions and which one of them is the best option these days.
Online gaming has, after all, changed a lot in the last few years, so jurisdictions that used to be very attractive for gaming providers have somewhat lost their lustre in some cases. On the other hand, there are a few up and comers, too.

So what jurisdictions do we generally recommend for those looking to get a gaming license in 2021? Well, we would say:

Curacao

The first jurisdiction to offer gaming licenses is still a solid option for this, especially for newcomers or startups in the gaming business with a smaller budget. As we’ve mentioned before, this jurisdiction has several advantages, the main ones being that the licensing procedure is pretty streamlined, so applying for a license is significantly easier and quicker here than in many other jurisdictions.
And the 0% tax rate definitely helps too!

However, the license is not as prestigious and reputable as some other jurisdictions, and also is limited in terms of legal acceptance, but does allow the holder to practically operate the business.

There are also potential operational difficulties, such as limited banking and payments options, however our group has the experience to connect the right payment solutions for Curacao licensed gaming companies.

Malta

Another classic choice is the gaming industry, but still going strong. The requirements are stricter than in Curacao, and the process more complex, but Malta offers one of the most prestigious licenses around. Malta is a EU member state, with all the benefits that entails in itself.
Multiple types of licenses are available, depending on your type of business.

Gibraltar

Another well known, classic choice, but as the regulator is quite strict, a Gibraltar gaming license is still sought after and reputable. The downside of this license is that the entire operations must be set up in Gibraltar, with all that entails.
Multiple types of licenses are available, depending on your type of business.

Estonia

Certainly not as well known in the gaming industry as a jurisdiction to consider when looking for a license as many other classic online gaming jurisdictions (although those operating cryptocurrency exchanges are usually already well aware of the benefits of this jurisdiction and its licenses), gambling has actually been legal in EU member state Estonia since 1994, and online casinos since 2008. Offshore operators have been allowed to operate our of Estonia legally since 2011 and since 2012 servers are allowed to be located outside of Estonia as well.

Multiple types of licenses are available in Estonia as well, depending on the types of games provided, and costs of the licenses are relatively high. However, since the infrastructure of banks and other service providers in Estonia is rather good, especially compared to some of the other options in this list (and in particular if you choose to work with Porat Group on obtaining bank accounts, payment provider services etc.) and the tax rates are relatively low for the EU, Porat Group’s opinion is that this is a rather attractive option for those looking to license an online gaming business. If you ask us, more companies should look into Estonia for this purpose than is the case today.

Isle of Man

Another European option, with a good track record, as many reputable gaming sites hold this license. The regulator is strict, but the fact that there is only one type of license available makes the process more streamlined than in Gibraltar and Malta.
The 0% corporate tax for gaming companies adds to the allure, as does the general reputability of the jurisdiction.

Greece

Another EU member state that just made its online gaming licensing procedure official during 2020, so this is by far the newest license option on this list. Since late 2020 the Hellenic Gaming Commission is accepting license applications for two types of online gaming operations: one to operate online betting and another to operate other online games of chance online.

While the licenses are expensive in comparison to almost all other options, priced at €3 million and €2 million respectively (and a 35 percent tax rate) they are valid for 7 years and have the benefit of a respectable jurisdiction within the EU.
The added downside for some is that the license comes with some extra stipulated regulations related to, among other things, jackpot prize limit, stakes to be put in slot, minimum age required to place bets and so on, so for those considering this option we certainly recommend paying close attention to those added stipulations in order to ensure fit.

This is certainly the jurisdiction to keep an eye on, depending on how things go for the applicants who have already applied for a Greek online gaming license in early 2021.

Montenegro

Montenegro has offered online casinos, as well as sports betting sites, poker sites etc. licenses since 2012, and it is often referred to as one of the hottest jurisdictions for online gaming these days. And not only because the Bond movie Casino Royale was filmed there!
Instead, some of the benefits of this jurisdiction include that the Montenegrin license allows for the provision of all types of online games and that the regulator has streamlined the regulation process as much as possible. Therefore, among other things, the regulator offers an “all in one” package for those interested in regulating their gaming company in the country, that includes all operational costs for opening, as well as registering the business, obtaining the license as well as payment processing. This is highly advantageous as it gives a clear view of all the related costs.

Additionally the regulation process is known to be much faster in Montenegro compared to many other countries, and there is practically no minimum capital requirement for forming the limited liability company that is required for the online gaming license. Last but not least, the corporate and personal tax rate in Montenegro is a very attractive 9%!

There is one serious drawback to the Montenegrin online gaming license and that is that not all payment providers agree to work with companies holding this license. Porat Group therefore does not place this jurisdiction at the top of our list, even though it may be an attractive option for those who can solve the payment processing issue.

How do I choose a jurisdiction?

If you want to get a gaming license, you need to look at multiple aspects before making your choice. The first, and most obvious aspect to take into account, is the cost of the license, as your budget for this may vary. As we mentioned, Curacao is often chosen by those with a smaller budget, but should you not have these limitations, another jurisdiction is generally recommended, for reputability reasons.

When it comes to costs, it is important to take all the fees and costs into account, as the amount of costs may not be the same for each jurisdiction, so make sure to compare the total cost only, taking into account set up costs, company incorporation costs, costs for operations, ongoing maintenance costs and more.

It is also important to consider the stability of the jurisdiction, which is why we have focused on European jurisdictions in our list, with the exception of Curacao, where it’s merit was already explained.

We also recommend that you look at taxation issues in-depth before making your decision, as double taxation treaties and similar may sway you in a particular direction. If you are interested in having someone look into tax-optimization for you, based on your current location, nationality, the type of games that you will be providing and plans for the future, please contact us, as this is one of the services we provide.

Interested in applying for a license?

No matter what gaming license and jurisdiction you are interested in, Porat Group naturally offers assistance with the entire licensing process, by simplifying it and taking a hands on approach after you have made your decision. We therefore urge everyone planning this step to contact us for a free consultation on how to best proceed.


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