Get Licensed in the Isle of Man
Promote your business by tapping into the thriving iGaming industry with an online gambling license from the Isle of Man, a charming island situated between London and Ireland.
Renowned for its more liberal legislation and favorable tax fees, this online gambling jurisdiction willingly welcomes new operators to the iGaming market — here’s what you need to know about a casino license and how to go about applying for one.
What is an Online Gambling License?
Let’s start by exploring what online gaming, A.K.A iGaming, is.
iGaming/online Gaming Explained
iGaming or online gaming can be defined as the wagering of money on the results of events or ‘games of chance’ that a gambling website offers.
Online gaming operates similarly to your classic brick-and-mortar gambling casinos, but access and participation are virtual, as opposed to in-person.
With iGaming, there’s no need for players to leave the comfort of their homes to enjoy the thrill of gambling with the same great potential payout.
Playing online gambling games, sports betting is easy and instant — users merely participate in iGaming via telecommunications like the internet and PC or smart device.
Online Games that are Recognized
In the Isle of Man, the regulation pertains to 'games of chance', which are offerings that involve players betting money (or money's worth) and any others that incorporate an element of randomness, or, quite literally, chance.
Online games that are recognized on the island include roulette, blackjack, pontoon, punto banco, bingo, gambling on horse races (film or video), casino brag, poker, games of dice, baccarat, chemin-de-fer, backgammon, keno, playing on automatic machines, wheel of fortune and super pan 9.
Back to Online Gambling Licenses
Finding a trustworthy online casino can be problematic, however. With thousands of contenders diving into the market, some illegally and without a license, players are at risk of scams. The unfortunate reality is that criminal gambling activities like money laundering are rife.
Gambling authorities are aware of the dangers and their main objective is to prevent them.
How do they do this? With a set of world-class gambling laws and compliance regulations that operators are obligated to follow. If standards are met and honored, businesses are usually granted an online gambling license.
A legally authorized gambling license means the operator has pledged to protect its players by preventing gambling addiction and underage participation and steering clear of any fraudulent practices like money laundering, etc.
Who is the Gambling Supervision Commission?
The Isle of Man’s Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC) is the island’s regulatory body that initially functioned as the jurisdiction's land-based gambling authority.
With the uptick in the iGaming industry’s growth, GSC has taken on the responsibility of overseeing compliance in the online gambling space, too.
When the Online Gambling Regulation Act of 2001 (OGRA) was introduced, the GSC kicked off its duties virtually with regulations that aim to keep players safe and support online casino ventures.
Core GSC Guidelines:
The core guidelines that operators need to adhere to when they apply and obtain an online gambling license focus on establishing crime-free gambling, the protection of minors, and fair gaming practices.
Unlike other countries around the world, the Isle of Man is lauded for its liberal stance, but regulations around business activities have become more rigid over the years as the industry continues to evolve and expand.
The necessity for fair and responsible gaming has become increasingly vital, so the island’s prerequisites for obtaining a gambling license is rightfully firm.
What is the legislation regulating online gambling in the Isle of Man?
The Isle of Man’s key legislation controlling online gambling is the Online Gambling Regulation Act of 2001. The OGRA pertains to all games which:
- Operators and players make use of telecommunications (like the internet, smartphones, PCs, servers, etc) to participate; and,
- The games encompass players betting money; and,
- The games include any component of chance.
3 Core Principles of the GSC and OGRA
- Protection of the young, i.e. the prevention of underage gambling, and protection of the vulnerable.
- Keep online gaming activities crime-free.
- Preserve fairness to players, ensuring they receive their legitimate payouts.
On top of this, the GSC also has a duty to ensure that the island’s reputation and economic position are upheld and safeguarded.
Pros of Getting an Online Casino License
Apart from the island’s less rigid gambling laws, there are many other reasons for operators to choose the Isle of Man:
The government acknowledges the value that the gambling industry brings to the economy. iGaming is recognized and welcomed in the region and in support of the sector’s progression, they’ve set up a state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure that allows operators to manage their mobile casinos more efficiently.
The island also offers operators professional and advisory assistance, as well as designated Enterprise Support Schemes that assist with financials.
With a competitive tax policy, choosing to be an Isle of Man licensee will save on costs. The region boasts a low gaming tax fee, from 0.1% to 1.5% on Gross Gaming Yield, and there is no capital gains tax.
While other countries limit the games covered by their gambling licenses, the Isle of Man does not. All game types are included under the full gambling license, which is the main license type.
Depending on a company’s business model and its objectives, they can instead opt for a sub-license, network services license, or the B2B software supplier license.
In addition, all currencies, including crypto, are supported and there is an assortment of markets available for operation.
How to Apply for a License
Applying for an iGaming license in the Isle of Man is a straightforward process for seasoned operators intending to establish themselves in the Isle of Man. The OGRA and GSC requirements are in line with the Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Legislation and involve several documents being submitted and compliance criteria being met.
And the perk? There is only one license needed covering all gaming.
To qualify for the main/full OGRA license in the jurisdiction, applicants must demonstrate transparency and integrity in their gambling activities. The primary applicant and all their associates linked to the business will also undergo thorough background investigations.
Documents and fees for the main license application process include:
- Confirmation of no criminal record
- Certified copies of IDs and passports
- Bank references
- Utility bills
- Comprehensive business plan
- Description of the games offered
- Details about the software being utilized
- Technical System Testing report
- Information about the target market
- £5,000 application fee + £35,000 per annum + £5,000 for each new sub-license
With GSC approval, full license holders can offer their technology to sub-licensees who also benefit from reduced fees. This option is best for those businesses that have a database of players but no gambling products of their own yet. Basically, it gives a sub-licensee’s players access to the software/games offered by the full license holder.
£5,000 application fee + £5,000 per annum
Network Services License
As with the full OGRA license, this option includes the same compliance rules and regulations, except that operators with a network services license can reach new target markets since it allows players to register in other jurisdictions, too.
£5,000 application fee + £50,000 per annum
Software Supplier License
In short, this license is not compulsory to offer software to iGaming licensees in the jurisdiction, but the supplier license does offer providers a lauded reputation. Applicants’ products need to be tested and certified to acquire a software supplier license which allows them to be listed on GSC’s games registry. This license heightens suppliers’ reputation among operators and players because it demonstrates high quality standards. What’s more? It also simplifies software integration for Isle of Man licensees without requiring additional certification.
£5,000 application fee + £35,000 per annum
Restrictions and Domestic Laws
With reference to the Isle of Man’s Online Gambling Regulation Act of 2001, a casino license can be granted to an applicant for a five-year period on the following conditions:
- The business is incorporated in the Isle of Man.
- The business has two resident company directors.
There is a Designated Official or an Operations Manager who is the same person as one of the Directors, or a local from a service provider. This person must be a resident of the island.
Full B2C license holders must register players on servers located on the island.
An application fee of £5,000 must be paid and all relevant documentation must be completed.
B2C license holders must always commit to protecting player funds.
All games, RNGs, and systems of gambling must be certified by an approved testing facility.
Directors, Designated Officials, Money Laundering Reporting Officers, and Beneficial Owners who control 5% or more of the business will be subject to Due Diligence duties.
Additionally, because the Isle of Man attaches immense value to its reputation as a safe and trusted gambling jurisdiction, the license holder must observe and fulfil all regulatory obligations found in its policies.
These include the Advertising Standards Authority Codes and the Anti-Money Laundering policy. If not, the GSC can revoke the license at any time.
The island is celebrated for its flexibility and the fact that there is no blacklist of countries where operators are barred from offering their services. Nonetheless, license holders are expected to remain ethical in their gambling activities.
It is expected that licensees will not enter other markets where gambling is banned and illegal, and if pursuing a controlled market, local legislation will be adhered to and that they seek legal advice and GSC approval first.
About the author
Ethan Williams, a lively 24-year-old lad from the UK, brilliantly fuses his passion for online casinos with top-notch English localisation, creating bespoke casino guides for Britain's keen gaming lot.