Is it Legal to Play at a Casino without a License?
From a legal perspective, it is acceptable for Germans, Finnish, Dutch and other Europeans to play at unlicensed casinos. Apparently, the government hasn’t started telling players yet that they can’t. When the Gambling Act was passed in Scandinavia in 2019, I thought that was the end of foreign casinos. But I was wrong.
The new law stated that no gambling operator could offer services or advertise within Scandinavia without a license from a local gambling authority. However, I didn’t find any mention of legal restrictions imposed on players. In other words, playing at unlicensed casinos is still as legit as playing at any Scandinavian licensed casino.
For the uninitiated, unlicensed casinos or casinos without a license are operators that do not hold a license by gambling authorities in Scandinavia, Spillemyndigheden, Spelinspektionen and Lottstift.. Instead, such operators are licensed by foreign regulators. Some of those regulators are the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), or Curaçao e-Gaming.
Can gambling authorities stop unlicensed casinos from accepting Scandanavians?
The answer stands no because the government doesn’t have a clear-cut stance on the same. The licensing authorities being different, it might appear illegal for a Scandinavian player to register with an online casino without a license. After all, such operators cannot promote themselves in Scandinavia. They can’t even support local currency for monetary transactions. The local gambling authorities even have the right to order payment providers to stop all transactions from an unlicensed casino.
But the Scandinavia law doesn’t say anything about players from the country reaching out to these operators on their own. They can still sign up at such online casinos, make deposits, and withdraw winnings. The local gambling authorities in Scandinavia and Germany have no authority over the foreign licensing bodies, which makes the operators legit and reliable.
Global payment methods such as e-wallets make it easier to play at an unlicensed online casino. Even the gambling authorities cannot put restrictions on them. I’ll leave out the casinos that block Scandinavian players. Because, in my honest opinion, they either don’t understand the Scandinavian law or know only the partial side of it.
Pros & Cons of Playing at Casinos Without License
Although casinos without license aren’t illegal, playing at one comes with certain pros and cons! A lot of things determine your gambling experience. Some of them are site’s license, reputation, range of games, etc. Let me point out the pros and cons.
More and Better Bonuses: Scandinavian casinos limit new players to one bonus per casino, which can be disappointing. In comparison, unlicensed casinos can offer more than one bonus. It means, apart from the welcome offer, you would also receive other bonuses. Some of those bonuses are free spins, cashback, daily deals, etc.
No SpelPaus or Game Break: All casinos licensed in Scandinavia have to agree to have a national self-exclusion program, like ROFUS and Spelpaus. Players who decide to sign up for it are suspended from accessing all Scandinavian casinos. Luckily, unlicensed casinos are not subject to such programs. They have self-exclusion policies of their own that are site-specific. If you exclude yourself from one, you can always access another.
No 3-Second Spin Interval: Imagine you’re playing slots at a Scandinavian casino. As per the new rule, you must wait for 3 seconds between two consecutive spins. You’d be bored out of your skull. However, casinos that are not licensed in Scandinavia, do not have this rule. Spin as much as you want; no one would stop you.
Banking Limits: As if Spelpaus and the 3-second rule wasn’t enough. Scandinavian casinos also impose restrictions on the amount you can deposit. It isn’t a problem in unlicensed online gambling sites. You can usually deposit as much as you want.
Anonymity: Players who choose casinos without license, don’t need BankID to provide personal information. Anonymity is a major advantage.
Taxation: Winnings from a non-Swedish casino are generally taxable. This is mostly applicable to Curacao casinos that are licensed outside of Europe. Winnings from MGA casinos usually go tax-free. However, there’s a condition that I have discussed later in this article.
Game Range: Games from top providers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, etc., are usually missing at casinos without a license. These brands work with regulated operators only. Instead, you’d come across games from other providers such as Real Time Gaming.
PayPal and Trustly Missing: The two payment providers, too, work with regulated operators. Hence, they are not common at unlicensed gambling websites. The alternatives are Skrill, etc.
No local currency Support: Casinos lacking a Scandinavian license accept deposits or payout winnings in SEK. The common currencies are the US Dollar and Euro. Players are charged a currency conversion fee.
Most Trusted Gambling Licenses we Recommend
There are 50 gaming control boards worldwide, and most of them offer their gaming license. Though all the licenses are based upon a predefined principle, the quality of assertion differs! I recommend that a person must go for a known unlicensed casino with a legitimate gambling license.
The reason behind this is your gaming experience. I’ve come across various unlicensed casinos which don’t provide great services. This goes by a narration where a friend of mine played at an unlicensed casino for over six months. Perhaps, when he went for the withdrawal, he wasn’t allowed to. They mentioned that he doesn’t fulfill the criteria and can’t withdraw in any other currency.
The casino didn’t have a legitimate license. And hence, my friend ended up leaving the unlicensed casino without any payouts. Therefore, choosing an unlicensed casino with a legitimate gambling license is always recommended. If the licensing authority has the website, one can directly complain about their portal, citing their issue.
Below are the licensing authorities which are trusted by almost every unlicensed casino and every player:
Malta Gaming Authority
Malta Gaming Authority was initially incorporated in 2001 to regulate the gambling industry. It monitors both brick-and-mortar and online casinos to curb all money laundering or fraudulent activities. The sole purpose of generating licenses is to practice responsible gambling. And save vulnerable people from falling prey to criminal activities.
We also address Malta Gaming Authority as ‘Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority.’ It checks all the applications crucially and then monitors the casinos’ activity. If any unlicensed casino in Scandinavia is found suspicious, MGA holds power to seize their license. The license is given for ten years. The unlicensed casino can renew it or reapply for the same. Malta Gaming Authority is one of the lenient authorities among all.
Curacao eGaming License
The Curacao eGaming license has been in the picture for so long. It had commenced its operations back in 1996, with the same motive as any other authority. Since it takes time for people to develop their trust in casinos without a license, a gaming license acts as a savior.
Unlike other gambling licenses, an unlicensed casino doesn’t have to go for various audits. There is a simple monitoring system that monitors the activity. But, it doesn’t comprise any audits. An online casino without license gets this license for a period of around 10 years.
UK Gambling Commission
The UK Gambling Commission came in 2007. The UK Gambling Commission is not directly related or comes under the UK government. Because the UK Department for Culture, Media, and Sport fund it. However, this information is just for our understanding; the entity still works the same. The sole purpose of UKGC is to protect players’ rights and enable them a great platform to play online games.
Perhaps, the UKGC focuses more on the United Kingdom’s market. Hence, many unlicensed casinos go for the above two licenses.
What factors does the gaming authority check for a license?
There are various factors that a gaming authority scrutinizes to roll out a license. Find the list of the primary ones below:
- A gaming authority ensures that the website is robust. It shouldn’t lag and remains easy on navigation.
- The games are checked against fairness by organizations like eCogra.
- They check deposit and withdrawal procedure. Primarily, how much time does an unlicensed casino take to release the payment?
- The customer support team and its average response time.
- They check bonuses and promotions.
- Some authorities advise unlicensed casinos to keep the players and operational funds separate.
While these are the major factors, certain minor factors vary from authority to authority.
Payment Methods at Unlicensed Casinos
Many Scandinavian residents worry about this particular factor. The reason behind this is Scandinavian Government. It holds the right to block a few payment methods. However, it depends on their understanding and legality of operations. If the government considers any payment method unsuitable for a casino without a license, it can block it. In return, even if the payment option is present at the unlicensed site, the government can cancel/deny/ or revert it.
Moreover, unlicensed casinos offer various payment options except a few, such as Swish. Swish is an exclusive payment method for Scandinavian people only. One can also pay anonymously via cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. But it is most popular with Curacao-licensed casinos. You can below find some of the commonly used payment methods at an unlicensed casino:
- Bank Transfers
Taxation at a Casino without License
The taxes are high at an unlicensed casino or casino without a license. However, it depends on two factors primarily: license and the winning amount. The government relaxes taxation rules a bit if the license is from inside Europe. But, if the license is from a different country altogether, then the taxation rules differ. Suppose a person earned €10, then the authority might levy a 30% tax on the profit. Any amount which goes beyond the profit margin of €10 requires 30% percent tax. Only if the casino without a license has a license from outside Europe.
There is a twist to this rule. An MGA-licensed casino, for instance, might say the winnings are tax-free. But you would still end up paying taxes if the operator targets Scandinavian players.
Beware of Unsafe & Illegal Casinos
Right from day 1 of your venture at an unsafe casino, you get that red alarm. However, most of us tend to ignore it and consider it as a minor glitch. It becomes very important to differentiate between the petty and the larger issues. The larger issues are the signal of an unsafe casino without a license. We have compiled a list of the factors you must focus on to check the safety of a casino; here you go:
- The lack of a reputed license is a huge red flag.
- They might change the terms and conditions often, keep a check on the same.
- Some of the bonuses are not optional. You need to comply with the terms and wager your bonus to unrealistic amounts before you can cash out.
- The games aren’t compliant with the rules when you play them.
- The customer care team is not efficient. Your queries mostly go unanswered. Even if someone responds, it is never on time. However, it depends on your tone as well. Make sure to be polite to them.
- A low cash-out limit is a direct proof that there is a glitch in the cash flow. And hence, reliability is an issue with the operator.
- Players need to wait for a long time to see their winnings.
- There is no self-exclusion program. Measures taken to curb underage gambling and gambling addiction are nil.