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Have you ever wondered how you can optimise your taxes if you have a business that offers gambling and betting services to its customers? In today’s article we talk about a dynamic market that is worth billions of dollars a year and has become very attractive to investors looking for juicy medium to long term revenue opportunities: online gambling. This article is not aimed at gamblers, but at entrepreneurs who want to carve out a niche in this sector.

The global online gambling market is huge and growing steadily. In 2023, it reached a market value of $66.7 billion, and is forecast to be worth $92.9 billion by 2028. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9%.

The world of iGaming is a field brimming with opportunities, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. It is not just about opening another online casino and that is it… rather, we will show you how you can succeed with the proper approach and the right licences. In this context, we will introduce you to the key points that will give you the operational freedom you need to build a successful business.

But that is not all: we have also included a comparative analysis of the three best countries to start an online casino business. This assessment takes into account not only costs and bureaucracy, but also the reputation and stability of the countries to give you an overview of where you have the best chance of success.

From classic to modern: the best games on betting platforms

In the digital age, the world of gambling has expanded far beyond the boundaries of traditional casinos. Thanks to technological advances, you can now dive into the world of online gambling from more than 90 jurisdictions. From sports betting to virtual casinos, the choice is huge and caters to all tastes and budgets. And it is all just a couple of clicks away!

Casino games

  • Slots: the undisputed stars of the gaming world, both online and offline. The digital versions of classic slots are easy to operate: just press a button to start the reels spinning and give you the chance to hit the winning combination.
  • Roulette: a timeless classic that should not be missing in any casino and that also delights its online fans. Whether European, American, or French, all variants of this game are based on the traditional structure: 37 numbered and coloured spaces to which you can trust your luck by betting that the ball will land on the right number.

Card games:

  • Blackjack: the perfect balance of simplicity and strategy. Also known as 21, it is a favourite online casino game, and is offered in variants such as American, European, and multi-hand. The aim is to get closer to 21 than the dealer without going over 21.
  • Poker: it is not just luck at cards that counts here, but also tactics and knowledge of human nature. Poker challenges you to read your opponents and to distinguish their bluffs from real threats. Online poker platforms offer interactive elements that make the game even more exciting, such as anticipating winning hands or recognising bluffs.

Sports betting

The world of sport is opening up to all types of betting, from scores and results to specific match events. Whether it is basketball, football, volleyball, tennis, MMA, Formula 1 or eSports; you can find a wide range of options for betting online. You can bet on the outcome of a match, on specific events within the match itself or even on the performance of teams over the course of an entire season.

The global licensing landscape

Source: Interactive map created by Slotegrator showing the legal status of gambling around the world.

If you want to establish yourself as an entrepreneur in the online gambling sector, one issue is at the forefront: licensing. Regulations vary considerably from country to country: some countries  (such as the United Arab Emirates) ban online gambling altogether, while others (such as Malta) take a much more open stance and offer flexible regulations.

There are also places like Costa Rica, where there is no specific legislation and operators can offer their services without a licence as long as they do not do so within the country. However, beware of this trap: the unlicensed route may seem tempting, but it is fraught with pitfalls. Financial institutions, for example, are often sceptical of transactions with unlicensed gambling operators, as they see licences as a safety net against fraudulent activity. This makes it difficult for unlicensed companies to access reliable payment processing services… or at least this is the case if they do not want to limit themselves completely to crypto transactions.

Having a licence is therefore not a mere formality, but a decisive criterion that can determine the credibility and success of your company in the online gaming market. Although the costs of licensing are often high, the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages: a licence increases trust among customers and business partners and facilitates access to various services and financial markets.

Six keys to a successful online gambling business

  1. Registering your company in the right country: each country has its own rules, tax structures and licensing fees. It is up to you (with our support, of course) to choose the jurisdiction best suited to your business model and objectives, and incorporate your company there.
  2. Having a valid licence: Getting a licence is essential for your business to operate legally. Without such a licence, you would be breaking the law and could face significant fines.
  3. Undergoing a detailed registration process: This step requires you to provide extensive information about your company, owners, and operations —including business plans, financial reports, and details of the games offered.
  4. Committing to anti-money laundering (AML) measures: your company should be dedicated to monitoring transactions and reporting suspicious activity, thus preventing your platform from being used for money laundering.
  5. Implementing responsible gambling policy: these policies set gambling limits, provide self-exclusion options, and offer support for problem gamblers.
  6. Respecting international compliance: It is important to respect the laws and regulations of the countries where your customers are located. For example, online gambling providers must block the IP addresses of players from countries where gambling is prohibited.

Choosing the perfect country for iGaming

Many entrepreneurs opt for offshore locations to benefit from the following advantages:

  • Fewer requirements and regulations compared to onshore
  • Lower (or even zero) taxation, which increases profitability.
  • Protection of the identity of both owners and operators.
  • A faster and easier way to start a business.
  • Possibility to reach players from all over the world.

Important factors:

The following factors should be considered when choosing an offshore location:

  • Corporate structures: There are several options, such as LLC and PLC. Choosing the right structure will have an impact on the management, liability, and taxation of your business.
  • Reputation and costs: The reputation of the jurisdiction plays a key role in the trustworthiness of the business. Licensing, registration, and operating costs rise considerably as the reputation of the country rises, but so does the actual recognition of banks and payment service providers.
  • Restrictions and penalties: Licences may contain conditions relating to players in certain nations or regions. Violations may result in severe penalties.
  • Variety of licences: depending on the country, one or more licences may be required. The number and type of licences influence the scope of games offered and the target markets.
  • Location-based licensing: Some countries require additional licences to be obtained from the countries in which players reside.

Examples:

  • Costa Rica: license without fees and taxes (in fact, you do not need a license at all), low-cost option.
  • United Kingdom: strict regulation, high licence fees (up to £1,077,027).
  • Curaçao: a single licence covers different types of online games.
  • Malta: up to four licences are required for a single casino.
  • United States: certain states require licences.

Where should your online casino be legally anchored?

To help you navigate this jungle, we present eight renowned offshore destinations. Each offers unique advantages and challenges that could suit your needs.

1. Anjouan (Comoros): the exotic newcomer

Looking for favourable conditions and simple procedures? Then Anjouan, the small island of the Comoros near Mozambique, could be the perfect choice for you. This destination offers low licensing fees, no tax on gross gaming revenues and the possibility to operate multiple games with a single licence. However, Anjouan is a relatively new market and is slowly consolidating. The Comoros is celebrated as a preferred destination for fraudsters in areas such as offshore banking, citizenship and so on. With more than 20 military coups since independence from France in 1970, the country is not particularly stable either.

2. Belize: a natural paradise with charm

Located in the middle of Central America, Belize combines breathtaking scenery with an environment conducive to online gambling. International recognition, tax incentives and an express application process (just 24 hours!) are certainly tempting factors. However, it should be noted that oversight by the Gaming Control Board is quite strict.

3. Costa Rica: freedom and simplicity

Sometimes less is more, as Costa Rica demonstrates: here, businesses enjoy a great deal of freedom as long as they respect certain rules. There are no corporate or gambling taxes, and the application process is simple, which makes it ideal for start-ups with big plans and a small budget. The country has crypto-friendly policies, and is especially attractive for crypto gambling providers — since there is no need to pay for expensive licences.

4. Curaçao: the quintessential favourite

Curaçao is one of the pioneers in iGaming regulation, with a solid infrastructure and good reputation. Recent changes are intended to further increase the confidence it generates. The low tax burden of 2% for gaming companies and the ability to cover many forms of gaming with a single licence make Curaçao attractive to many operators.

5. Gibraltar: exclusivity comes at a price

Gibraltar is synonymous with the highest standards and places high demands on its licensees. It is a high price, yes, but the tax advantages and international recognition it offers attract a multitude of established companies.

6. Isle of Man: flexible, innovative, digital

Located between England and Ireland, the Isle of Man impresses with its flexible laws, stable economy, and low tax burden. A pioneer in the regulation and support of digital currencies, it offers a full licence for all categories of gambling. The Isle of Man is perfect for innovative companies that want to break new ground and operate tax-free: If you have the necessary start-up capital, you are guaranteed to be in good hands here.

7. Malta: the first class with strict audits

Malta enjoys an excellent reputation in the iGaming community. The Maltese licence is considered a seal of quality, but it comes with strict audits and a detailed business model. In return, Malta offers you a sound legal and financial system, attractive tax rates and access to the European market with only 5% corporate tax.

8. UK: the gold standard for the most ambitious players

The UK sets the standard in the industry with its strict regulations and high levels of security. A licence from the UK Gambling Commission opens the door to one of the largest markets in the world, but requires full legal compliance in return.

Top 3 offshore destinations for Denationalize.me

Our favourites:

Curaçao

Advantages

  • Compared to other jurisdictions such as Malta, licensing fees in Curaçao are significantly lower: on average, a licence costs between €3,500 and €10,000.
  • Generally, applying for and obtaining a licence can be completed within one month.
  • There is no tax on gross gaming revenues and only a small 2% tax on net winnings.
  • Curaçao companies do not have to operate with VAT.
  • Curaçao is one of the pioneers in the regulation of cryptocurrencies and allows the use of Bitcoin and other digital currencies as a payment method for online gambling.
  • Thanks to its connection to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curaçao’s licensed companies have access to the European market.

Disadvantages

  • The Curaçao licence is only valid for one year and must be renewed after this period.
  • Curaçao has a worse reputation than such established jurisdictions as Malta.
  • The costs of the necessary economic substance on site (management fees) are not negligible.

2. Malta

Advantages

  • Malta is one of the most reputable jurisdictions for setting up iGaming businesses.
  • With a Malta licence, you will have access to the entire European market, which in 2023 generated a total turnover of more than €20 billion.
  • The tax rate on gambling turnover in Malta is 5%.
  • The licence in Malta is valid for 10 years.

Disadvantages

  • Licensing fees and costs in Malta are considerably higher than in Curaçao, and can range from €50,000 to €100,000.
  • The application process for a licence in Malta can take between 12 and 16 weeks.
  • Malta has strict regulatory requirements for the gambling sector. In addition, it also applies other EU regulations, such as data protection.

3. Costa Rica

Advantages

  • Setting up a company in Costa Rica is very cheap and easy: registration costs are usually less than €2,000.
  • In Costa Rica, there are no taxes on income from gambling or betting abroad.
  • No licence is required to set up an iGaming company in Costa Rica. Ironically, gambling is prohibited within the country itself —although explicitly not if it is online.
  • The use of cryptocurrencies as a payment method is legal in Costa Rica. With respect to crypto gambling, Costa Rica is a fantastic location for a formal entity to support the decentralised gambling protocol.

Disadvantages

  • Costa Rica has a poor reputation internationally as a jurisdiction in which to establish an iGaming company due to a lack of licensing.
  • Officially, companies based in Costa Rica do not have access to the European market.
  • There is less regulation and consumer protection of the online gambling sector in Costa Rica compared to other jurisdictions.

If you would like us to help you set up a company in the gaming sector, please contact us. Generally, the best way to get started is by contracting our consultancy service, so that we can study your situation and objectives and come up with the best plan for your case.

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