Regulated and Unregulated Online Casinos Compared

Published on 27 Sep 2018 by Mason Jones
Is online gambling safe – It’s all about licensing and regulation

The world of online gambling can be caveat emptor which means, in plain terms, look out for yourself. Online gamblers have the choice of playing at unregulated casinos or at regulated casino gambling sites. However, there's always the need to be cautious.

You may ask, what is the difference between regulated and unregulated online casinos? To begin with, there is a world of difference. It is not apparent when you just play. If you have issues related to payment withdrawals or customer support, the difference becomes evident. In order to understand the difference one must know what regulation means.


Gambling regulation differs from gambling licensing. A company may obtain licensing from jurisdictions that have quite defined laws governing online casinos or jurisdictions may simply grant out a license to operate without bothering about regulation and fair play. The two should not be confused. A license to operate is just that: one can do business as a registered entity.

Regulation introduces a whole set of laws and rules that govern online gaming from fair play and random number generators to wagering restrictions and payouts. Regulations will also impose age and location restriction and ensure online casino sites conform to policies such as offering fair promos and that they adhere to commitments besides providing adequate services.

However, it is important to understand that regulatory authorities may not act as mediators in case of dispute.

Country specific gaming commissions handle the regulatory aspect. Regulations also differ within countries.

For instance, gambling online is legal in the UK and it is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission.

Canada varies in that only some provinces consider online gambling as legal and have various authorities regulating the activity.

Online gambling is illegal in most parts of the USA except for the states of Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada.

See all France casinos France

France has the Autorite de regulation des jeux en ligne or ARJEL that governs online gambling of all kinds.

See all Spain casinos Spain

Spain has a uniform Spanish Gambling Act governing various forms of online gambling.

Many casinos are licensed and regulated in the Netherlands Antilles by Curacao eGaming.

Unregulated casinos operate online worldwide but it is for players to know what they are getting into. Learn about regulated and unregulated online casino gambling sites and how you are affected.

Unregulated online casinos

An online casino may be licensed in one country and may operate in various countries without obtaining the country's regulatory body's certification. That makes it an unregulated casino. A licensed casino online, for instance may operate in UK but without the UK Gambling Commission's approval and you can play on such casinos.

The pros

  • They do not impose restrictions that are mandatory for regulated sites and may allow players from any country and of any age to join in.
  • They may offer huge promotions and wins to lure in bettors and sometimes this may be for real. This normally comes in the form of a no deposit bonus or free spins. Regulated casinos normally are taxed on these types of bonuses.
  • They may allow payments through various channels
  • In general, the restrictions are fewer and,
  • They may not deduct taxes that regulatory bodies make mandatory.
  • You may get to play more variety of games.


It is not la la land in unregulated gambling online. There are serious downsides:

  • Games may be weighted heavily against players so you will most probably lose more times than you win.
  • The rub is when you try to withdraw wins. You may face delays. You may be given reasons, referring you to terms that you have purportedly contravened so that makes you ineligible to claim winnings. They are free to word terms and conditions anyway they like and can freely point to clauses and you will find it frustrating to claim winnings. Even if they do process wins, there is no telling as to how much they will delay it.
  • Their service support may be poor. If you pursue an issue, they may stop responding altogether and they may even block you.
  • A serious point you should consider is that your card and bank details are not absolutely secure and payments may not be PCI compliant. Ask yourself if you wish to put your card at risk.
  • They can go belly up, close shop and run with your money.

Regulated gambling

Countries that permit online casino gambling usually have an independent regulatory body. The regulatory body devises a set of guidelines and policies that casinos registering with it are bound to follow and implement. If, and only if, they satisfy strict criteria can they obtain certification from the regulatory body. Regulating the casino's operations also means players must also follow restrictions which are more for their benefit.

The pros

  • Players can expect fair gaming and fair practices. Regulated casinos online allow games only from licensed game providers. Fair gaming is assured through random number generators that do not fix the game against the player but give him an even, fair chance.
  • Your payments through card or net banking are secure and you do not have to worry that card details may be stolen or misused.
  • Regulated casinos offer responsible gaming which means a gamer that bets excessively and shows addictive tendencies may have curbs put on his activities to help him regain balance.
  • Only players aged 18 and above are permitted.
  • Regulated casinos generally get a good rep and reviews online because they must ensure player trust as well as conformity with regulatory body guidelines.
  • Service support ranges from good to excellent. You can expect resolution of issues.
  • Withdrawals are processed fast subject to terms but generally more than satisfactory speed.
  • Regulated casinos are usually operated by big, well established names in gaming and they are not likely to close shop and run with your money.


  • Do not expect dazzling no deposit bonuses and promotions. You get some but it is a fair amount.
  • You must conform to various guidelines as regards stakes, minimum bets, and withdrawal amount caps.
  • Regulatory bodies governing a site means tax is deducted. That may be a con for you but it is good for the country-it gets revenues.
  • There are country, location, currency and age restrictions.

As is evident, there is both good and bad to regulated and unregulated online gambling casinos. Get the best of both worlds by trying out free bonus gaming at unregulated sites and once you become skilled, play for real money at regulated gambling sites.