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Licensed Casinos in Estonia- A Complete Guide

October 10, 2021
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Estonia's first casino opened in Parnu in 1969, but times have changed since then. And so did Estonia's gambling scene. At the moment, there are 7-8 legally operating casinos spread throughout the country. And with the electronic gambling regulation act in 2008, residents of Estonia can now gamble online - not only at local casinos but also on international poker networks and sports betting sites.


WHY HAVING A LICENSE IS A NECESSITY FOR AN ONLINE CASINO?

A license is necessary for an online casino because it ensures that they comply with all gambling laws in their jurisdiction. For example, if a casino has a license issued by Gibraltar or Alderney, then the following authorities will be able to control them - The Gambling Commissioner of Gibraltar Licensing Authority and the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR).

But what about Estonia? Why is it important if a casino has an Estonian license or not? It is simple – because the government may step in and cancel any license issued to a company, who does not comply with their laws. Now that we know why licenses are needed for online casinos and that the Estonian Gambling Act will be the standard each operator will abide by, let's see what this act contains.


The Estonian Gambling Act

Estonia's legislation on gambling has always been stringent, and it even took them 10 long years to create an updated version for 2008. The Law of Gambling Activity was legislated in 1999, but back then, it did not cover all essential aspects of today's gambling industry, such as smartphones for gambling.

The new Gambling Act came into force back in 2008 and became a foundation on which other laws are built upon. For example, the Estonian Lotteries Act was legislated in 2012, and it is based entirely on the Gambling Act from 2008.

So how does it work? The Estonian Gambling Act regulates everything related to gambling, such as online casinos and poker rooms, sports betting sites, lottery websites, and of course, traditional brick-and-mortar games.


Estonian Gambling License Requirements

An Estonian license is not mandatory for an online casino, but it provides several advantages that may prove very valuable. In addition to the usual security and reliability that comes with a license, Estonian regulation will help keep your account safe from local banks and government institutions – since they are obliged by law to report any suspicious activity going on in the area.


Different Types of Casino Licenses in Estonia

In total, there are three types of Estonian gambling licenses. Each one differs from the next in terms of regulations and requirements. We will be listing them all with brief explanations to help you understand what they might offer your casino site.

The Estonian Gambling Act contains the following 3 licenses:

Class 1 license

This is a Class 1 license, which means it is a "traditional casino" license. To obtain this license, your casino needs to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Your company's headquarters need to be located in Estonia or another EU country – without any exceptions;
  • Have an Estonian representative – A foreign online casino must have a full-time Estonian representative that will be under your company's full supervision;
  • Offer games that are not considered illegal anywhere in the EU – this includes all types of casino games, poker rooms, sports betting and lottery.

Class 2 license

This is a Class 2 license, which means it is an "online casino" certificate. To obtain one, you need to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Have an Estonian representative – A foreign online casino must have a full-time Estonian representative under your company's full supervision;
  • Offer games that are not considered illegal anywhere in the EU.

Class 3 license

This is a Class 3 license, which is a "small stakes poker room" certificate. To obtain one, you need to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Have an Estonian representative – A foreign online casino must have a full-time Estonian representative under your company's full supervision
  • Provide only games where winnings do not exceed EUR 500.

With all three licenses, you will operate legally in Estonia and offer gambling services to the local market.


Are Online Casino Licenses Necessary?

No, they are not. Although the Estonian Gambling Act requires international casinos to obtain a license to offer their services online, it does not mention local casino sites (offering games for Estonians only).

The good news is that this loophole allows you to launch your own casino site without purchasing an Estonian gambling license. However, you won't be able to attract Estonians – since they can freely visit hundreds of other casino sites without worrying about the legal issues.


Final Thoughts

If your business model includes Estonian players, you really need an Estonian gaming license – otherwise, your casino marketing campaign will not bring significant results. While, if you want to attract casino players from different parts of Europe, an Estonian license is unnecessary.

But, keep in mind that a few games might be considered illegal if they offer high enough payouts, and thus it is your responsibility to know what you're offering on your casino site.

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