The dual islands of Antigua and Barbuda are located between the Caribbean Sea and the Northern Atlantic Ocean. Like most island states in the region, tourism which accounts for more than 50% of its GDP, drives the economy in this part of the world. However, there is another economic driver that is not so immediately obvious, Antigua and Barbuda islands are a big draw for online gambling operators in the region which is a hotbed for poker and casino gaming.
Antigua and Barbuda is not a new player to the online gambling licensing industry, in fact, it has been issuing casino licences since 1994. The online casino operators it licenses can be broadly split into two categories, with one being gambling sites that serve and focus the rest of the world, and some online gambling sites that are partial to being accessible in the United States.
During the following years after its first foray into the gambling licensing industry, Antigua was more often than not, incredibly generous issuing licenses to operators as long as they were able to pass the minimum approval standards it set. This move brought about quite a few gambling sites which were low quality. This is no longer the case today, as the regulatory authority has since done much to improve its image on the world stage.
What does the Commission do?
This body has the responsibility of supervising and controlling the industry of online gambling based in Antigua & Barbuda’s licensing jurisdiction. Its authority has legal backing by law in its regional administration, specifically the Interactive Gaming & Interactive Wagering Regulations. This body views online casino operators in the same vein as it sees financial institutions, which makes them subject tight legislation in the same way that the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and Anti Money Laundering laws are applied. There are around fifty online casino operators registered and licensed in Antigua, with the bulk of them using software provided by Playtech. Antigua perhaps can be ranked as one of the top gaming jurisdictions because it expects the best and most correct management practices and corporate integrity from its licensees. It has three areas in which it focuses on, money laundering prevention, the advancement of the online gaming industry, and player protection. A few of its better-known practices that licensees have to adhere to is to develop "KYC Know Your Customer" procedures, while also availing their accounts for audit by external and independent auditors. These auditors have to also verify the solvency state, player protection, safety and overall compliance of the online casino operators in accordance with licensing requirements.
What Protection does it offer players?
There are numerous ways in which this regulatory body protects its licensees’ players. One is a confidentiality principle which requires all information regarding players such as name, date of birth, and any other information regarding personal identification is not to shared unless the player has given consent to the action. This principle also covers usage of player details to ensure these details aren’t used for purposes other than that initially required.
Operators must also show capital capability. It does this by imposing a significant financial reserve prerequisite on prospective license holders, in a bid to protect players and their funds when they need to withdraw. Its license holders are required to store a sum of around $100,000 in the coffers of the regulatory body. Usually, the exact amount differs depending on the applicant, and it is decided upon after careful consideration by the commission. This amount acts to provide security to the players of the licensee, to ensure it will always fulfil its obligation in regards to prize payment to players, or in unforeseen circumstances like bankruptcy, long-running disputes, or even extraordinary situations like the revocation of a license.
A simple yet effective method of player protection comes in the form of a last login time display. The commission requires players registered with its licensees are shown their previous time of login upon a new login to the online casino's site. Doing this makes it easier to alert a player to any suspicious activity, such as fraudulent activity happening on their account. Simultaneously, the commission aims to generate self-awareness concerning gambling behaviour. In action, the commission requests its licensed operators to display on their sites' information topics such as methods of curbing minors' access to gambling products, parental controls, and responsible gambling guidelines. Also featured is information on how players can contact gambling addiction helplines.
How does it rate compared to other authorities?
The Gaming Commission of Antigua and Barbuda a solid 8/10
Antigua and Barbuda of recent times were awarded inclusion into the White List of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. What this signifies is that its regulatory rules and licensing standards had met and exceeded the standards required by the UKGC. This inclusion means online casino operators licensed in Antigua gain the right to advertise in the United Kingdom.
This ranking means it just falls short of entering the territory of the Big 4 (Malta, UK, Alderney, and Gibraltar) which rank higher at 9-10. On the plus side, this commission offers licenses to online casino operators that are friendly to US customers and ultimately rates higher than the 5/10 awarded to Costa Rica, since it has very little to no obligations and player protection of any kind.
Is it Safe to use a Casino Licensed in Antigua and Barbuda?
Players can be assured that if a casino operator displays a Licensed seal of approval issued by the gaming commission of Antigua and Barbuda they have been thoroughly audited and regulated. For this reason, we would conclude that an online casino or sports betting company holding a Licence from this jurisdiction is safe to use.