Published on 7 October 2014 by Rhi
As a casino player, do you ever look to see if a casino is licensed, and if it is, where it’s licensed? Probably not, but you really should be sure to check this before signing up to a casino. Why? Having a license means a casino has been checked out by an independent body, a body who has experience with gaming sites and wants to test and check the casino to ensure they are safe, fair and reliable with player data.
When you sign up to a casino you’re obliged, by law, to give all the correct details, some of which are pretty personal. Name, address, date of birth, payment information- you wouldn’t give these details to any stranger on the street who asked you, so be sure you don’t do the same online.
It’s very hard these days for a casino to operate without a license, most countries in Europe are pretty hot and strict with this industry, however it does no harm to check the footer or ‘About Us’ section of a site, just to be sure they’re licensed and licensed by a body you can trust.
The Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) Malta
One such body is the Lotteries and Gaming Authority in Malta, otherwise known as the LGA.
The LGA is a well known and respected licensing body in Europe. They’re one of the most thorough and strict with their casinos, so you know if a casino has a Maltese license, they’re a casino you can trust. They put all applicators through rigorous and ongoing tests and checks to ensure they are trustworthy with customer data.
The LGA awards 4 different types of licenses and it’s possible for a casino to have one, or a few of these different licenses. The LGA state these licenses as follows;
Class 1 – a remote gaming licence (eg. – casino type games, online lotteries) whereby operators manage their own risk on repetitive games. It is also possible to have a Class 1 on 4 licence whereby the Class 1 licensee operates its games on the software and in certain cases through the equipment of a Class 4 licensee;
Class 2 – a remote betting licence (eg. – fixed-odds betting) whereby operators manage their own risk on events based on a matchbook;
Class 3 – a licence to promote and/or abet remote gaming in or from Malta (eg. – poker networks, peer-to-peer (P2P) gaming, game portals) whereby operators take a commission from promoting and/or abetting games. It is also possible to have a Class 3 on 4 licence whereby the operator uses a licenced Class 4 as its platform;
Class 4 – a licence to host and manage remote gaming operators, excluding the licensee itself, whereby software vendors provide management and hosting facilities on their platform. In essence this is a business to business (B2B) gaming licence.
In order to receive the go ahead and have a license from the LGA a company needs to be thoroughly investigated. This includes the individuals who own the company, as well as the company itself.
Owners of the company are vetted to ensure they have no criminal records.
The company must submit documentation detailing their business plan, their policies and procedures (such as anti money laundering, fraud prevention, customer verification and so on) as well as details on the games they wish to provide.
Once the LGA are happy with the company, they look into the website itself. The website must pass a System Audit. This encompasses the entire website to ensure everything works, everything that needs to be displayed to the customer is there and clear and easy to find.
Protecting the Players
A huge part of being granted an LGA license is ensuring the players are protected. Here, 3 main points are investigated.
1. Reality check- this is a pop up that is shown to the player after an hour of continuos play letting them know they have been playing for an hour and giving them a status of their profit/loss over that time.
2. Player limits- players must be able to set themselves limits. This can be session time limits, loss limits, deposit limits, bet limits and self exclusion periods where they cannot access the site at all. Limits being implemented or tightened must activate immediately, whereas if a customer wants to increase their limit (meaning they can play more) or reactivate their account, it must be subject to a 7 day cooling off period.
3. Problem gambling protection. There must be mention and links to help for problem gamblers somewhere on the site.
Protecting players money is another huge part of the license. As a player, you need to know that if you are to win big the company can pay you, right? Or even just that they have enough money to pay you, whatever your balance may be! For this reason, the LGA demands that players money is kept in a specific bank account, separate from any other bank accounts the company might hold. They must also provide the LGA with reports to show that there is always enough money in this bank account to cover player balances, should any, or all, of the customers wish to cash out at any time.
The games that the casino is offering must also be checked. They mustn’t offer any games that are rigged or are in any way unfair to the players. All the games offered, whether created in house, or by game providers like Netent, must undergo RNG (Random Number Generator) tests to ensure the outcomes are entirely random.
All game history and outcomes must be stored by the casino, ensuring that should the player have a dispute, the information can be verified. This also helps if the player suffers a disconnection from the internet, if their bet loses but they didn’t get to see the result, this can be verified.
There are a host of security aspects when it comes to the licensing too. For example, player passwords must not be visible in the casinos back office and must be stored in a one way hash cryptographic format to ensure the account and the details are a safe as possible.
Secure communication protocol must be in place whenever the player does something on their account which needs to be kept extra secure. Actions like signing up, changing a password, making a monetary transaction and so on.
These are just some conditions the casino has to meet. There is an enormous list of other items too, including the back office system logging out after a period of activity, not permitting simultaneous player logins, player accounts must lock after a fixed number of failed login attempts and many many more points.
On Going Compliance
The LGA licensing isn’t just a one time check. They make sure that companies are keeping to their regulations and check again within the 1st year and 5th year of operation.
The reports from the bank account to ensure the balance covers player balances must be submitted to the LGA once a month.
The main thing to take away from this information is that you should always check if a casino is licensed in order to maintain your own safety. The LGA are one of the best licensing bodies in the wold so any time you see their name and logo, you know it’s a casino you can trust.
Some example of Netent casinos with a Maltese license: