The Isle of Man gambling license is a true mark of quality for an online casino, which makes it highly desired among operators. While the Isle of Man’s liberal legislation and competitive tax policy make it a very attractive location for online casino businesses, the licensing process can be complicated and intimidating. We are here to assist you and guide you through the whole process.
Gambling in the Isle of Man
The Isle of Man is a British Crown Dependency located between England and Ireland and is known, aside from its charming landscape and medieval architecture, for its strong, diverse, and low-tax economy. However, the Isle of Man is not governed by British laws, and has its own parliament, legislation, and gambling regulatory body. The island positions itself as a leading jurisdiction for the location, administration and regulation of the iGaming business.
The Isle of Man’s gambling control body, the Gambling Supervision Commission, was established in 1962 as an independent land-based gambling operation regulator. With the massive and continued growth of the online gambling industry, it has become responsible for online activities as well. The Commission became one of the first to regulate online gambling when it issued the Online Gambling Regulation Act 2001, which aims to protect players and support online casino operators. The authority encourages gaming business success in the Isle of Man and stands for crime-free gambling, protection of the young, and fair gaming services.
While the island is very welcoming to the gambling industry, the standards of the Commission have gotten stricter over time, due to increased advocacy for fair and responsible gaming. At the same time, the more stringent the regulatory requirements are, the more credible the license holder’s reputation is in the eyes of the gaming community and the players.
What types of gambling license can you get in the Isle of Man in 2022?
To avoid unnecessary complications, each Isle of Man license covers all types of gambling and is chosen by companies based on their business model and objectives: whether they wish to operate B2C or B2B, and if they possess their own gaming content or, for example, only databases of potential players.
The license is granted for a five year period and the Commission reserves the right to revoke it at any time if any terms are violated. There are four types of license a company can obtain in the Isle on Man, depending on its goals and business needs:
FULL LICENSE (Main OGRA License)
This is a main, standard license. Full license holders can operate B2C, register their own players, and store their data. They can offer other operators a White Label Solution, providing them with a platform, content, and other business solutions, as well as saving them the need to adhere to the Isle of Man’s requirements themselves. Full license holders can also partner with other operators, offering them games and software. In this case, they bear no responsibility for the operators’ administrative and legal activities, but enable them to get a sub-license from the Commission. Full license holders can be tied to any number of sub-licensees with an additional fee of £5,000 for each partnership. The full license covers the activities of the main licensee’s company and its subsidiaries.
Collecting and storing player data
Operation of proprietary technology (platform and games)
Ability to partner with any number of sub-licensees and offer White Label solutions
Operators that have no experience in the gambling industry but are planning to enter a market and establish their own online casino would probably opt for the sub-license. This type of license is also a good option for a company that has a database of potential players but no gambling products of its own to offer yet.
Sub-licenses are granted based on a reduced fee and tie the licensee to a full license holder with an exclusive agreement. A sub-licensee’s registered players can have access to the software or games provided by the full license holder. While the sub-licensee is tied to a full license holder, it can at any time apply for its own full license and become a fully independent licensee.
Collecting and storing player data
Opportunity to partner with a full licensee
Access to full licensee’s technology (games, software, etc.)
NETWORK SERVICES LICENSE
This license includes all the same rights and obligations as the full OGRA license, but network services licensees can also accept players registered with casinos licensed in other jurisdictions, skipping the re-registration process. The transition process then allows swift migration of player data from the source server to a server located on the Isle of Man and does not require KYC or AML checks, though the chosen partner is expected to comply with these policies. Contract terms are not prescribed, but it is necessary to include a commitment to providing fair and crime-free services. There is no fee applied for adding new partner operators to the network, but their activities must comply with the gambling laws of the Isle of Man.
Since the network services license allows operators to accept players from other jurisdictions, it opens great opportunities to reach new target markets and potentially widen user databases.
Collecting and storing player data
Opportunity to accept players registered in other jurisdictions without re-registering their data
Operation with own technology
Opportunity to partner with any number of sub-licensees and offer White Label solutions
B2B SOFTWARE SUPPLIER LICENSE
The software supplier license is not obligatory to offer software to Isle of Man licensees. However, providers from all over the world can benefit from the license, as it grants them the prestigious reputation of the Isle of Man business network.
There are two types of software supplier license: one for standard fiat platform providers and one for blockchain-based software providers, which was added in 2019 in accordance with the Isle of Man’s online gambling regulation.
Suppliers’ products must go through a testing process and get certified to obtain the license in order to be listed in the GSC games registry, demonstrating to operators and players their adherence to high standards of quality. This will also facilitate the process of software integration for Isle of Man licensees with no additional certification needed.
Software / platform development and supply
The Isle of Man also offers a Disaster Recovery program. This is a perfect option for businesses to remain afloat if they face a political or economic disaster in the region where their operation is based. The Disaster Recovery program allows platform owners to smoothly move their operation to the Isle of Man with no need to pause or stop their business. The island’s safe and low-risk geographical situation along with an excellent infrastructure, high-tech data centres, and all other necessary support ensure great conditions and a stable environment where businesses can recover in a very short period of time. Operators can obtain a DR license the same way as a Full OGRA license, with only one difference: the operation does not have to start until it’s necessary for a licensee, so no application fee is paid before that. The legislation allows temporary operation under your home regulation for up to 90 days.
Each Isle of Man license permits the use of all digital assets and currencies, including crypto, and covers all types of iGaming verticals:
P2P games like poker and bingo
Casino games, including slots
Lotteries, including messengers and re-sellers
Mobile, desktop and tablet games
*it is also possible to discuss new models
The Isle of Man demonstrates a flexible approach to regions of operation: the GSC does not have a black list of countries where operators are prohibited from offering their services, but licensees are expected not to enter markets where gambling is forbidden or operate in regulated markets without adhering to local laws. Therefore, operators must seek legal advice regarding each particular jurisdiction and get the GSC’s approval. It should also be noted that the Isle of Man’s resident players must be able to use licensed operators’ iGaming products.
Why go for the Isle of Man gambling license?
Many operators are drawn to the Isle of Man due to its liberal legislation. The government recognises the value and importance of the iGaming sector and even provides services to support gambling businesses, including a modern telecommunications infrastructure for operators to smoothly run their online casinos.
Both start-ups and experienced operators can get professional help and advisory support with legal and banking services, company administration, investment, marketing, software development, and other processes. The Isle of Man Enterprise Support Schemes include micro business grants, loans and equity investments, funding towards business improvement projects, etc. Special grants will potentially cover your business relocation to the Isle of Man as well.
In addition, the Isle of Man demonstrates a very competitive tax policy: there is a low gaming tax, from 0.1% to 1.5% on Gross Gaming Yield, and no capital gains tax.
The jurisdiction is a member of the World Trade Organisation and is whitelisted by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Due to the regulators’ comparable standards of fairness and safety, the Isle of Man license is also whitelisted by the UK Gambling Commission, which allows licensees to advertise their services on UK territory.
The Commission has also established the Department for Enterprise, which is responsible for the development of four sectors: business, finance, tourism and digital. The department strives to make the Isle of Man an “Island of Enterprise and Opportunity” to create a home for digital and tech companies.
All game types
covered by one license
A variety of markets
available for operation
is relatively competitive
may be accepted
with the network license
The Isle of Man is considered to be one of the most innovative regulators in iGaming. Some of its most forward-thinking steps include:
Bringing digital currency under Anti-money laundering and Crime Legislation in 2015
Allowing digital currencies and other assets are to be deposited and withdrawn in 2017
Licensing the first lottery based on blockchain
Introducing an elective software suppliers licence for blockchain and token platforms in 2019
Opening the Isle of Man Blockchain Office and Sandbox to support blockchain sector growth in 2019
Building the world’s first International Business Centre to work on regulatory structure and licencing for debt- and investment-based crowdfunding platforms
How to get a remote gaming licensein the Isle of Man in 2022
According to theOnline Gambling Regulations Act 2001 (OGRA), a gambling license in the Isle of Man can be obtained by a company if the following requirements are fulfilled:
The company must be incorporated in the Isle of Man
The company must have two resident Directors
A Designated Official or an Operations Manager, either the same person as one of the Directors or a person sourced locally from a service provider, must be a resident of the Isle of Man
B2C licensees must register players on servers located on the Isle of Man
An application fee of £5,000 must be paid and all relevant application forms must be completed
B2C licensees must protect player funds at all times
All games, RNGs, and gambling systems must be certified by an approved testing house
Directors, Designated Officials, Money Laundering Reporting Officers, and beneficial owners controlling 5% or more of the company will be subject to Due Diligence obligations
In addition, since the Isle of Man values its reputation as a safe gambling jurisdiction, the licensee has to comply with its policies, protect player funds, follow the Advertising Standards Authority Codes and the anti-money laundering policy. Otherwise, a license can be revoked by the GSC at any time during the five-year validity period.
How to apply for a gambling license from the Isle of Man
Applicants must demonstrate the transparency and credibility of their activities. Therefore, each person and company connected to the application will be subject to thorough, detailed legal and financial due diligence checks. The GSC reserves the right to request additional information while evaluating the applicant’s ownership, business model, terms and conditions of contracts, game rules, internal controls of systems, technical requirements, player registration, etc.
Once the application is received, it can take 10 to 12 weeks to process. However, the timeframe can be extended if the application is not properly completed.
This is a list of documents that need to be provided according to the Isle of Man licensing laws:
Detailed business plan
Description of offered games
Third-party RNG certificate
Software description and Technical System Testing report
Target market description
Confirmation that servers are located in the Isle of Man
Confirmation of absence of a criminal record
Copies of IDs or passports
*All the documents must be no older than three months
*The documents must be provided for every authorized person
First and foremost, it is risky: unlicensed operation is usually illegal and will potentially lead to unpleasant consequences. Penalties vary depending on each jurisdiction’s legislature, and these can range from fines to prison sentences:
Belgium, for example, is one of the strictest jurisdictions: offering games of chance without a license may be punished with a fine of up to €800,000 or a prison sentence of up to five years.
Serbia punishes those who organize gambling activities without a license from the relevant authorities with a fine or a prison sentence of up to two years.
The UK treats unlicensed gambling as a criminal offense which can be punished by huge fines or a prison sentence of up to 51 weeks.
Sweden imposes a prison sentence of up to six years if it is proven that an unlicensed gambling operation was intentional and up to two years in minor cases.
Denmark would warn an operator in case of unlawful actions, block the website or, in case of a serious offense, impose a prison sentence of up to two years.
Running a casino without a license can also limit your activities, since many game providers and financial institutions would refuse to partner with unlicensed operators, considering it too risky. A poor range of content and limited payment possibilities will result in narrow coverage.
If your platform is considered an unlicensed gambling operation, it can be shut down immediately. In the gambling industry, reputation comes before anything else. It is important to build trust by demonstrating your credibility and reliability to your partners and customers, something which is nearly impossible without a license.
How much does a gambling license from the Isle of Man cost?
The Isle of Man license types and prices
The main license that covers B2C operation for all game types with a right to partner with sub-license holders and offer a White Label solution.
Fee for each new partnership with a sub-licensee
Covers operation under an exclusive agreement with a full license holder where the sub-licensee is only allowed to offer the main licensee’s games.
Covers all aspects of the full license and allows network license holders to accept players from foreign operators without re-registering them.
B2B Software Supplier License
Standard fiat platform suppliers
Token / blockchain-enabled platform suppliers
These licenses are not obligatory but are often chosen since they confirm compliance with the Isle of Man’s standards.
and £50,000 p.a.
*The fees for each type of license are due annually. The license is granted for a five-year period.
The Isle of Man’s gambling tax policy is highly competitive, which makes it a very attractive place to live and start a business. There is a 0% capital gains tax. The VAT rate is 20%, but online gambling is exempt from VAT on income, which also means it is not recoverable on expenses. The personal income tax and a gambling duty are applied as follows:
Personal income tax rates
The first £14,000
The next £6,500
The maximum per year
Gaming duty rates (based on GGY or profit, not turnover)
Gross Gaming Yield (GGY)
Less than £20m
From £20m to £40m
More than £40m
How do the Isle of Man and UK licenses compare?
While the Isle of Man is a British Crown dependency with the Queen as its head of state, the island has its own parliament, as well as its own regulatory body for the gambling industry. Here is a comparison of the two licensors’ conditions:
Isle of Man
By business model:
Full License, Sub-License, Network License, Supplier License
Types of licenses
By activity performed:
Operating License, Software Operating License, Personal Management License, Personal Functional License
Each license covers all product types
Different license for each product type
(Arcades, Betting, Bingo, Casino, Gambling Software, Gaming Machines, Lotteries)
All those not regulated by local authorities
Depends on type of license, product covered, and GGY. Operating license:
- Remote general betting for real events - £2,933 - £25,777
- Remote general betting for virtual events - £1,980 - £42,978
- Remote casino (poker, roulette, blackjack, slots) - £2,640 - £57,304
- Remote bingo - £2,640 - £57,304 Personal management license: £370
Up to 10-12 weeks
Application processing time
Up to 16 weeks
Fixed for each type:
- Full License - £35,000
- Sub-License - £5,000
- Network License - £50,000
- Supplier License for standard platform providers - £35,000
- Supplier License for blockchain enabled platform providers - £50,000
Different for each type of license and product covered and depends on GGY. Operation license:
- Remote general betting for real events - £3,408 - £694,856
- Remote general betting for virtual events - £2,709 - £512,083
- Remote casino (poker, roulette, blackjack, slots) - £2,709 - £512,083
- Remote bingo operating - £2,709 - £512,083 *There is an additional fee for each £500m of GGY above £1bn
0.1%-1.5% on GGY
3%-21% on GGY
Are there any disadvantages of an Isle of Man gaming license?
The annual fee may seem high compared to other jurisdictions, but on the other hand, the Isle of Man license offers enough benefits that it’s worth the money. Since Isle of Man authorities highly value their safe, crime-free online business environment, there is also a high level of bureaucracy, stringent due diligence checks, and a lot of paperwork. However, there’s no need to worry: Slotegrator is ready to get you sorted.
This depends on your business model and goals. The full license allows you to operate B2C, but for instance, if you wish to accept players from other jurisdictions’ licensees without re-registering them, you will probably choose a network license. Sub-licenses allow operators to run their casino using a full licensee’s technology and games, which helps them get started and grow until they are ready to get their own full license.
You should be ready for thorough, detailed due diligence checks and mountains of paperwork. However, Slotegrator can help you go through the whole process smoothly and hassle-free.
What else do you need to start operating in 2020?
Getting a license is the right way to get started, but it is only the first step towards success. To give you an idea of where to go from there, we have prepared a roadmap for starting your iGaming business.
Build a branded platform
A well-designed and functional platform will not only attract players but keep them entertained, and a customized site will contribute to your brand awareness. Your casino also needs a backend office to facilitate the management of your daily operations.
Add a collection of games
Fill your new platform with the best possible offering of slots, table games, live dealer games, and sports betting. With our broad selection of certified game providers, you will find the most suitable content for your online casino.
Set up a payment system
It is crucial for your users to deposit, play, and withdraw in any currency, including crypto. Getting licensed will give you access to a wide choice of verified payment service providers, expanding your database of players as you gain their trust.
Invest in marketing
To make your online casino competitive and maximize your potential profits, make sure you introduce marketing tools such as bonus systems, affiliate programs, and special promotions so that your players won’t want to leave.
The best way to get started is with a Turnkey Solution that includes marketing tools such as bonus management and affiliate management modules as part of the overall development of a tailored platform with the integration of game content and payment systems. We also provide you with 24/7 technical support and regular updates.
How can Slotegrator help you get a license from the Isle of Man?
While licensing has plenty of advantages for operators, the main aim of the Gambling Supervision Commission is to protect players and promote responsible gaming. To uphold their standards, the Commission must ensure that potential licensees meet all of their strict requirements, which can make the application process arduous and time-consuming; even experienced operators can find it difficult to deal with all the paperwork involved.
With years of experience, the Slotegrator team has the expertise to help you understand the process and guide you through every step of license acquisition, including choosing the right jurisdiction, navigating the licensing process, and keeping you updated with changes in regulations. While we handle the licensing process, you can focus on business development and marketing. Save time and effort with our jurisdictional advisory services and take the first step towards a successful online casino project.
In 2016, I graduated from the Law Faculty of Charles University in Prague. The main area of law on which I focused both during and after my university studies is software law (and intellectual property in general). After graduating from the university, I briefly worked at a medium-sized law firm in Prague, but in 2018 I joined Slotegrator, where I have been working ever since and where I handle the company’s day-to-day legal matters.