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The European Regions That License Sportsbooks

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Unbeknownst to many sports bettors, some of the best-regarded and longest-running online sportsbooks set up their base of operations in Western Europe. Gibraltar, Malta, and the Isle of Man each offer sportsbook licenses, and regional regulatory bodies work directly with sportsbooks to ensure that bettors feel safe and secure everytime they place a bet.

For more information on how institutions in these regions help sportsbooks operate to their full potential and reach bettors around the globe, read on!

european online sportsbook licensing regions map
Gibraltar

Located just off the coast of Spain, Gibraltar has been a sticking point in Spain and the UK’s relationship for centuries. A self-governed territory of the Crown (and technically belonging to the United Kingdom), Gibraltar is one of the last remaining bastions of Britain’s colonial empire.

Gibraltar relies on the UK for both its military force and its foreign policy, but they do have the autonomy to legislate and enforce their own laws and regulations.

Capitalizing on this legal right to self-determination, Gibraltar is considered by many to be a “Triple-A” licensing region for online sportsbooks. It is – without question – the best-reviewed and most respected regulator in the world.

Gibraltar’s Regulatory Style

Home to a unique tax structure that allowed the nation to issue gambling licenses, Gibraltar started to authorize online sportsbooks in 1998. Beginning in the early 2000s, there was an exodus of many bookmakers to Gibraltar, as they sought a stringently-regulated jurisdiction with an advantageous tax rate. Another bonus was the air of legitimacy.

While the exact tax that applied to non-resident controlled entities was abolished in January of 2011, it was replaced with a similarly-enticing, fixed corporate tax rate of 10%.

The bulk of sportsbooks that moved to Gibraltar were from the UK, as it was undeniably good business sense. Consequently, the online gambling industry is now the number one employer in Gibraltar, contributing to the country’s robust economy.

The Gibraltar Licensing Authority

The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (GRA) was responsible for both licensing and regulation before it became incorporated into the Gibraltar Licensing Authority. Anything related to online gambling now flows through this body in some capacity.

The Gibraltar Licensing Authority is responsible for licensing online gambling operators, as well as determining the suitability of prospective sportsbooks.

They make no illusions about how difficult it is to obtain a license in Gibraltar. In fact, the qualifications and rules sportsbooks are subject to are numerous and strict. Sportsbook operators applying to house themselves within Gibraltar’s borders must have an established history in running a successful gambling operation, proven financial solvency, and a fastidiously-researched and prepared business plan.

If a sportsbook is able to successfully obtain a license from Gibraltar, they are subject to exacting regulations, all of which are engineered with the best interest of their clients in mind.
All management and operations of online sportsbooks must demonstrably occur within Gibraltar. Sportsbooks must also keep lists of employees and key personnel on hand, as the GRA vets these documents at random intervals.

Additionally, sportsbooks must agree to whatever advertising guidelines and practice the GRA decrees, and are bound to never sell their customer’s information or data to any third party. Lastly, sportsbooks are required to produce audited accounts of their business and deliver them to the Gibraltar Licensing Authority on an annual basis.

All sportsbooks are required to adhere to these rules and regulations, and their license is subject to be revoked at any time for a failure of compliance.

Sportsbooks That Call Gibraltar Home

Sportsbooks that base themselves in Gibraltar are of the highest quality, including Bet 365, Bet Victor, William Hill, and Ladbrokes.

Malta

Located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is the first European Union member to introduce regulation and legislation to the world of online sports betting. A member of the British Commonwealth, Malta is also presently one of the largest jurisdictions for online sportsbooks in the whole world, and a highly-sought after location for sportsbooks to seek licensure.

Initially, when Malta began regulating and hosting online sportsbooks, it did so under the aegis of the Public Lotto Ordinance. However, that body was reformed into the Lotteries and Other Games Act of 2001, which was then supplemented by the Remote Gaming Regulations Act of 2001.

Under this current legislation, there are separate licenses which prospective sportsbooks can apply to, depending on the services they wish to offer.

Malta Has Different Classes of Authorization

Class 2 grants are directed at sportsbooks, specifically. It covers fixed odds, spread betting, and more. If a sportsbook hopes to include an online casino, they must also attain a Class 1 license.

Class 3 Licenses cover peer-to-peer gaming and betting exchanges.

Class 4 Licenses cover software vendors. Some sportsbooks may also seek to acquire these sets of permission.

Malta’s Competitive Advantage

For sportsbooks, the appeal of Malta as a base of operations goes beyond the warm climate, architecture, historical sights, and incredible beaches. Malta’s proximity to the European market is a competitive advantage over many other regulatory bodies, and the region is suited to offer great bandwidth at reasonable rates.

Additionally, Malta has a low corporate tax. This advantage is bolstered by a variety of rebates the Maltese government offers sportsbooks.

The regulatory body in charge of managing online sportsbooks is named the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA). While by no means the most stringent regulatory body, the LGA conducts thorough investigations before allowing prospective sportsbooks to commence operations.

The LGA requires a high degree of transparency, as well as proof of financial solvency.
The Remote Gaming Regulations Act (2004) stipulated that all bettor funds must be stored separately in a client’s account. By extension of this act, the LGA monitors sportsbooks’ accounts and statements monthly to make sure sportsbooks are maintaining solvency.

This level of regulation and surveillance is among the strictest in the world, but this level of regulatory supervision goes a long way to secure the safety of any and all customers who place bets at a Malta-based sportsbook.

Malta-Based Sportsbooks

Presently, over 500 sportsbooks operate out of Malta. This includes Paddy Power and Betway, two of the most prominent European books.

Isle of Man

Steeped in Celtic and Viking heritage and home to the largest annual cross-country motorcycle race, the Isle of Man is much more than an oasis. A self-governing dependency of the British Crown, the Isle of Man is located between Great Britain and Ireland. It’s a highly-respected jurisdiction for online sportsbooks to operate within, and online gambling makes up over 15% of the region’s GNP.

The country began allowing online sportsbooks within its borders in 2001, quickly becoming one of the most respected regulatory bodies in the entire industry. Many books were also drawn to Isle of Man for its highly favorable tax rates.

Isle of Man Is Strict But Fair

Much like in Gibraltar, all online sportsbook operators are subject to a high degree of scrutiny and a difficult vetting process before they are given the right to commence operations. Sportsbooks must prove that their software and algorithms are indeed random and fair. These checks can take place multiple times a year and are done randomly.

Sportsbooks operating in the Isle of Man must consistently demonstrate that they are financially solvent. Because of this high level of regulatory scrutiny, sportsbooks within the Isle of Man’s purview have a reputation for quick payouts, with few player complaints about the financial aspects of Isle of Man-certified books.

The island is notable in the industry for its dedication to sportsbooks’ customer’s interests. They have an extensive history of trying to keep the gambling industry crime-free, and do their utmost to ensure customers always receive the winnings they are entitled to.

The Isle of Man introduced a Gambling Commission in 1962, which was updated in 2001 with the advance of online gambling. This is the body through which all sportsbooks licensed to Isle of Man are regulated.

The certification process at the Isle of Man is relatively straightforward and advantageous for sportsbooks. The whole process takes 10-12 weeks, has a low licensing fee and duty rate, and is backed by a robust technological infrastructure.

Europe: A Leader in Online Sports Betting

Europe is only one of the regions around the globe that sportsbooks seek licenses from, in addition to the islands in the Carribean archipelago. Many sportsbooks we review obtain licenses from all over the world, as each different licensing region has unique strengths and advantages.

Meet the authors

Matt McEwan
Editor-in-Chief
Dave F.
Sports Writer
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