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Unlicensed operator attraction and regulator lockdown

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Unlicensed online casino operators continue to lure in players forcing stricter action from regulatory bodies around the world.


The online casino industry continues to expand into more regions across the globe. Despite the attempts to increase legal gameplay, unlicensed gaming operators grow more popular every day.

Online casino players stated many reasons for their increased interest in these unlicensed sites. Let’s take a look at what this means for both legal and unlicensed casino sites.

Markets and regulators

With the influx in unlicensed gameplay, regulators are left with the task of finding that sweet spot between regulation and player satisfaction that will set the tone and shift the focus to regulated gameplay and licensed online casinos rather than unlicensed gambling.

What is the biggest struggle for regulators today?

Ontario is one of the latest gaming markets to hit the industry, and already they’ve become a target with many players moving towards unlicensed casinos.

According to data shared by the Government of Ontario, an estimated CA$1 billion a year goes to foreign operators who don’t pay taxes within the province.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) recently made changes to its Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming. With these changes, unlicensed operators are being forced to exit or face regulatory action, which includes having future applications rejected.

These operators have been given until 31 October 2022 to either leave or move into the regulated market without interruption to their customer base. Proper regulatory action will be taken against all unlicensed operators who do not comply.

Eye-opening survey

The Swedish regulator Spelinspektionen did a survey earlier this year which looked at why Swedes prefer unlicensed sites. Many players stated their preference for unlicensed operators was due to the lack of bonuses at regulated sites.

About 32% of participants stated bonuses as the main reason, which is an 11% increase from the May 2021 survey. Back then, users preferred unlicensed sites to get access to better odds. Today that’s still a big factor, with a number of users stating it as their top reason.

Then there is also getting locked out of licensed sites by Spelpaus.se. A reason that increased by 6% from last year’s 20%. A portion of those who took the survey simply don’t know which sites are legal and which ones aren’t. This number increased from 7% to 10% in the past year.

The main reason, however, remains the limits on bonus offers which have received a lot of criticism from political parties and the industry.

Currently, operators may only offer one bonus per customer upon sign-up, and it can’t exceed SEK100.

Another region that might see an increase in unlicensed operators is France which is set on tightening the gaming reigns. The French regulator l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) is planning on setting a ban on bonuses for excessive gamblers and is also calling for a €100 limit on welcome bonuses.

Reign it in like Belgium

The Belgian Gaming Commission is a respected and strict operator that aims to reel in the rebels with proper regulation.

They are considered the ultimate regulator to ban unlicensed operators, with players facing big fines and possible jail time for participating at unlicensed sites.

Many authorities focus on operators but not necessarily players, as it is easier to crack down on one in comparison to the masses. With more focus on players and strict penalties, it could promote a shift from unlicensed to licensed operators.

With Belgium authorities paving the way with their current regulations, others can follow the example and, in doing so, promote the benefit of gaming with legal and safe online casinos.

Published: November 2, 2022

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Article by Stelly

CasinoWow Contributor

Hey there! I am Stelly, and happily, I'm part of CasinoWow's content team. It excites me to be able to write and share with all gambling enthusiasts unbiased reviews and news that contribute to the gambling community and industry. Thankfully, I also have the chance to help you make an informed choice for casino brands and games, as well as provide interesting guides and news.

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