Online Gambling Jurisdictions & What’s a Gambling License?

You can access the internet from all around the world. Even though laws about what you can do online are sometimes different. They depend on your location and the existence of a gambling license.

So online gambling is one of the subjects that often make headlines. Some countries are strict when it comes to setting and enforcing gambling laws. Some other countries are even more strict, especially with poker gambling sites.

Online Poker Sites Jurisdictions

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As a result, poker gets more attention than other casino-type games due to it being a competitive game. It gets attention because skill can make an impact. And also because the “stars aligned” in 2003 for the online poker boom to take place.

One of the purposes of this section is to explain up-to-date poker gambling laws. We’ll try to explain them for different countries and jurisdictions. We are also gonna look at how online poker gambling laws affect players and businesses. And we try to figure out if playing internet poker is legal where you live. That is if poker gambling laws exist and are being enforced as prohibition.

We’re not lawyers and have never studied law though, so please don’t take what we write for legal advice. We write for entertainment purposes only. Please contact a local gaming lawyer if you have any legal questions.

Gambling License Jurisdiction

There are few jurisdictions that appeal to online poker companies. The jurisdictions that do, offer these companies the best conditions and also get their business. Malta and Gibraltar are popular for those operating outside of the US market. While US-accepting gambling websites tend to locate in places like Costa Rica, Curacao, and Panama.

Here are our guides to the most common online gambling license jurisdictions:


Alderney Flag Gambling Laws

Online gambling companies based in the United Kingdom are required to pay 15% annual taxes on their
profits. This hefty sum is unacceptable…


Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua Barbuda Flag Gambling Laws

The islands of Antigua and Barbuda are located between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean,
and they’re situated to the extreme…


Costa Rica

Costa Rica Flag Gambling Laws

Costa Rica is a nation in Central America, situated between Nicaragua and Panama. Bordered by both
the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea…



Curacao Flag Gambling Laws

The nation of Curacao has been synonymous with online gambling since the pastime was in its infancy. Situated on an island paradise in the southern…



Gibraltar (also known as “The Rock”) is located on the tip of Spain and marks the entrance to the
Mediterranean Sea. Designated a British…


Isle of Man

Isle of Man Flag Gambling Laws

Located in the middle of the Irish Sea and near the coastline of England, the Isle of Man has become one of the “big four” gaming jurisdictions…



Kahnawake Mohawk Flag Gambling Laws

The Kahnawake Mohawk Territory is an Indian reserve of just over 8,000 in Quebec, Canada. One of the
eight communities that…



Malta Flag Gambling Laws

One of the smallest nations in Europe, Malta is located south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. Ruled by the British until 1964…


Skill vs. Luck for poker games

Legally-speaking, should we regard poker as another casino game? Is poker a “gambling game” like the rest of them? Does it need a gambling license? The main distinction between poker and other gambling games is the competitive environment. Skill plays a bigger part when competing against others. Anyone who has ever spent some time to play poker can attest to it.

And many studies support this notion. For example, according to a study made by the University of Chicago poker is a skill based game. Experienced/skilled players get 30% increased return on average. That’s from a statistical study based on the World Series of Poker.

So, why does gambling licenses matter?

In the United States, many state gambling laws target online poker considering it a game of luck (or a game where “luck is the predominant factor”). While luck plays some part, there’s no question about skill making the difference in the long run. Many people use this argument when arguing about the legality of online poker in the US. Even though it’s a sensible argument, how would such an argument fare in court?

We have at least one court case to look at (Commonwealth v. Watkins) which took place in Pennsylvania. To make a long story short, a Columbia County Court ruled poker a game of skill based on a Dominant Factor Test. The test analyzed whether luck or skill is the predominant factor in poker (here’s a list of states using the Dominant Factor Test).

But, on April 2, 2010, the Pennsylvania Superior Court overturned the ruling, declaring poker a game of luck. Previous court cases, all the way from 1919, served as the basis for the decision. The previous cases considered poker a game of chance. The same Dominant Factor Test has not taken place in ever again Pennsylvania.

So is there a need for a gambling license? Even though there have been studies supporting the notion that poker is a game of skill. And even though anyone who plays poker for any meaningful period of time recognizes the skill aspect. We’re left scratching our heads because studies point to the contrary. And then, the court considers poker a game of chance like any other gambling game. In the end that’s why gaming sites in almost all parts of the world need a gaming license. Because poker involves luck as the main factor. Even though we know it greatly involves skill and experience.

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