Are you wondering how to start an online casino? Perhaps you are considering applying for an online casino license? Well, you are in the right place. Setting up an online gambling platform can be a complex process. But with the right team behind you and a clear plan, it can be much easier. In this article, Fast Offshore will delve into the setup process as well as providing you with valuable tips.
Do your research
Having a great idea on how to start an online casino is one thing. Knowing how to successfully make it a reality is another. A key component of this process, and something that will decide whether you are successful or not, is how much research you do. You may have experience in online gambling and casino, but do you know the sector? Working for someone else and launching your site are two very different things.
To be successful, you need to thoroughly research the general market and your niche sector. The idea is that you identify a gap in the market or at least a segment that isn’t saturated. Then, you fine-tune your idea to fill that gap, providing a product that was previously not available.
Here are some examples of questions you need to be able to answer following the research stage:
- How is the general market looking in the next years?
- How is the niche market looking in the next years?
- What are the current and future trends? Include technology, games, preferences, etc
- Who are your main competitors at a local and international level?
- What are your (and your competitors) strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- What’s missing from the local and international market?
- Which bonuses do your competitors offer? Loyalty schemes? VIP programs?
- Are they providing excellent customer service?
- Which demographics are most likely to play online casinos? Age/location/gender/income level?
- What are their other interests?
- What is the quickest growing demographic of online casino game players?
- How much profit/revenue are your small and large competitors making?
- What is their marketing strategy?
- Is there a demand for your product?
- What are the most popular game types right now? And projected for the future?
- What legal requirements do you need to meet to offer your product?
Create a business plan on how to start an online casino
Once you’ve done your research, you need to condense and refine it into a solid business plan. This plan will be an integral part of your business. It will also be presented to investors, banks, and licensing authorities further down the line. A good business plan on how to start an online casino should contain the following:
- Industry Overview: includes some of the research you conducted in the first stage, forecast and trends.
- Executive Summary: an overview of your company, product, and plan. Details your ethos, research results, niche, product and value proposition.
- Business Structure: contains information on company structure, key roles, who will fill them. Also, responsibilities and tasks for the main roles.
- Market Analysis: explains all of the research you did, your findings, and how your product will fit into the current and future market.
- Target Market: drills down into the target demographic, gaming habits, wants and needs, and how much they have to spend.
- Competitive Advantage: details what your company and product offer that no competitor does. Here you set yourself apart from your competitors.
- Sales & Marketing Strategy: based on your research and points 1, 4, and 5. Includes goals, tactics, positioning strategy and marketing mix.
- Finances: lays out how much each stage will cost (set up, launch, first years) and where that money will come from. Includes costs, estimate revenue and profit from operations.
- Pricing Strategy: select a pricing strategy that’s in line with your business and allows you to compete.
- Provide information on what payment processors you will use, currencies you will accept, and how these payments and payouts will be facilitated.
- Describe how you plan to expand in the future, your goals, and tactics.
Figure out finances
During the business plan stage, you will have had to do significant financial planning. This is extremely important so it’s worth expanding on. It’s not just the start-up costs that you need to consider. Once you are up and running, several recurrent fees require paying periodically.
- Market research
- Company incorporation
- Document certification and gathering costs
- Professional service fees
- License application fees
- Payment processor fees
- Headhunting and staff searching fees
- Hiring fees
- Personnel costs
- Office costs; deposit, utility set up, equipment lease or purchase, software licenses, hardware, supplies, etc
- Web hosting
- Gaming software
- Web design, graphic design, app design
- IT costs including servers, set up
- Marketing costs; planning, set up, events, sponsorships, advertising, content writing, affiliates, etc
- Reporting and auditing fees
- Company renewal fees
- License renewal fees
- Software licenses
- Professional service fees
- Staff fees; salary, bonuses, pay raises, benefits, tax, additional hiring costs;
- Payment processor fees
- Merchant account fees
- Taxes and government fees
- Office costs: rent, utility bills, maintenance, insurance, equipment, supplies
- Web and server hosting
- Game license renewals and additional licenses
- Ongoing marketing costs
- Web design and maintenance, app design and maintenance, UX fees
- Costs related to the expansion
These are not exhaustive and you should consult with a seasoned professional during the financial planning stage. You must also total all your startup costs and ongoing costs and compare them with your revenue projections. Ideally, they should line up or at least be sustainable for a certain amount of time, until you become profitable.
Engage a corporate services provider
Your corporate services provider should have at least 10+ years of experience in the sector, and knowledge of working in several of the main online casino jurisdictions. You should look for those providing turn-key solutions and custom solutions so you can stay on top of your costs. Picking the right partner is very important and will play a part in your success. Here are some tips to choose a provider that matches your needs.
Pick a jurisdiction for your online gaming license
Next, you need to pick a jurisdiction where you will base your operations. Typically this will be where you are located for tax purposes, where you have your online casino license, and where the company is incorporated. Known as an offshore jurisdiction, they have some benefits including privacy, quicker or more cost-effective setup costs, and fiscal benefits. Several offshore jurisdictions offer an online gaming license but which one is the right one for you will depend on your circumstances. It’s best to consult your corporate services provider to look at all the benefits, pros, and cons.
Your services provider will take you through every aspect of the jurisdictions online casino license rules and regulations, compliance, tax, company laws, and various other matters. Remember, which jurisdiction you pick will have a big impact on the way you operate. Don’t undertake this decision without expert guidance.
Fast Offshore usually recommends three offshore gambling jurisdictions- Curacao, Kahnawake, and Malta. Each with a different price point, complexity of the license acquisition process, and time frame. You can read a more detailed analysis of these 3 licenses. Alternatively, contact Fast Offshore to discuss your options.
Incorporate an online casino company
Once you’ve picked your jurisdiction, it’s time to incorporate an online casino license company. When you start the process of how to start an online casino, the company incorporation part is perhaps one of the most important. Your corporate structure will determine the rate of tax you pay and it will ‘hold’ your online gaming license.
The setup time can be instant (with shelf companies) or up to a few weeks, depending on the location and whether you submit your documents on time. You will have to provide your passport, proof of address, the purpose of the company, and various company documents. There is also a fee to pay as well as the professional services fees of your corporate service provider.
When a company has been incorporated, you also need to consider ongoing maintenance such as annual statements, audits, and reporting. Taxation should also be considered, and you should be sure to register with the tax authorities when necessary. These administrative matters can all be taken care of by Fast Offshore who offers ongoing maintenance packages to clients. This gives you more time to run your business, while we take care of all the work behind the scenes.
Decide on the types of games you will offer
When considering how to start an online casino, one of the ‘make-or-break’ decisions you will make relates to the games you will offer. During the business plan stage, you should have already ascertained whether you will specialize in just one type of game e.g. poker or lotto, or whether you will diversify and offer a portfolio of different games. During this part of the process, you need to start approaching different gaming studios. While establishing relationships with them, you need to know what games of theirs you want to offer.
This decision should be taken by considering several factors such as what is popular now and what will be popular in the coming months and years. For example slots, roulette, blackjack, and video poker are firm favourites, but are there any others that may be worth looking at?
eSports are becoming incredibly popular, as are fantasy sports games and betting on the outcomes. Furthermore, live table games like poker, roulette, and baccarat are also growing in popularity as a new generation of gamblers demand human interaction while they play. It’s also worth investigating whether incorporating crypto gambling, games that incorporate VR and AR and even AI, are worth considering. Remember, you need to stand out from the crowd and be able to offer something that no one else has, or that someone else is not doing well enough. When picking your games, it’s wise to go for a selection of well known and recognized games, and those that use emerging technology to offer products from a new perspective.
Get an online casino license
Now it’s time to get your license. As mentioned above, different jurisdictions have varying requirements when it comes to licensing. Some are stricter, more complicated, and more expensive than others. As a part of how to start an online casino process, you should have picked the one that suits you.
Usually, you will have to provide due diligence and KYC documents including a copy of your passport, proof of address, CVs, professional references, police conduct certificates, proof of funds, and an application form. You will also have to provide a detailed business plan and financial forecast, as well as evidence that you are competent to run an online gambling company.
As a part of the process, you also have to share information on payment processing, third party software agreements, what kinds of games you will offer, and how you will ensure it’s fair. Jurisdictions will require information on compliance, responsible gaming policies, and policies designed to protect underage gamers and vulnerable players.
The process can take between 8 weeks and 6 months depending on the jurisdiction and as long as all your documents are in order.
Settle your payments
To receive and make payments, you will need a merchant account and an agreement with a payment processor. Online casinos are considered “high-risk” due to a high transaction volume and value, and higher chargeback rates. This means that you will need a “high-risk” merchant account to process payments. We have been working in this area for over two decades and can increase your chances of being approved. We work with several offshore banks and financial institutions in all the top jurisdictions and can refer you, and assist with the application and opening process.
At this stage, you should also start negotiating with payment processors. These will facilitate the transfer of funds from the client, to your merchant account. You should seek to provide as many different payment options as you can. The more ways to pay you have, the more clients can use your services. You should offer wire transfer, credit and debit card payments, several third party payment processing companies, and cryptocurrency. In the last two years, cryptocurrency has become an increasingly popular way to transact. It’s now a must for online gambling operators wanting to reach a wider audience.
Hire your team
Creating the perfect team is one of the most important steps of how to start an online casino process. Surrounding yourself with experienced and trustworthy professionals will enable you to bounce off each other, share groundbreaking ideas, and grow as a team. First, you need to hire the senior management team– these are the people that will take care of each department such as operations, marketing, finance, HR, and IT. They should have 10+ years of experience in the sector and at least 3 years experience in a similar role. They should also be energetic, dynamic, forward-thinking, and passionate.
Next up, you need to hire middle management. Undertake this process with the input of senior management- after all, they will be working together so have to be a good fit. Your ideal middle management candidate has 4-8 years of experience in online gambling and casino, and at least 18 months of experience in a similar role. They must be good team players, proactive but also able to take direction, knowledgeable, and have strong interpersonal and organizational skills.
Next, onboard your general team members. These include customer service agents, back-office workers, live dealers, marketers, designers, and technicians. They should have 1-5 years experience in a similar role and ideally 1-2 years of experience in iGaming. Depending on the role, you may be able to forfeit direct online casino experience if you are willing to offer training.
You will need to work hard to secure the right people, and to retain them. Performance-related bonuses, a vibrant work culture, perks, benefits, and flexibility is all part of keeping the staff, once you have them. Once you’ve hired your dream team, you are onto the next stage of how to start an online casino!
There are quite literally thousands of online casinos in the world. As a new operator, you will be competing with big and well-established names, recognizable and trusted brands, and those with advertising budgets the size of some countries’ GDP. Knowing how to market your product to those who are most likely to be interested in it, is incredibly important. To do this, you will not only need a highly-skilled marketing team, but you’ll need to utilize the information you gathered during the research stage.
This process should have provided you with a profile or profiles of your target audience. You know who they are, where they are, their wants and needs, and what kinds of games they want to play. Using this information, you can tailor a marketing campaign that will tick each of those boxes and entice them to your site. This campaign should cover multiple channels such as social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, online forums, gaming-related websites, etc) as well as include affiliate marketing, content writing, reviews, PR, sponsorships, and online advertising. You need to consider search engine optimization and making sure your app is easily searchable in the iOS and Play app stores.
As well as conventional advertising such as banners and articles including do-follow links, you should consider more innovative approaches. Why not start a podcast about online gambling or casino games tips? Create a YouTube channel? Or create an exciting range of bonuses, exclusive prizes, and rewards for those that sign up or make deposits within the first 30 days?
Asides from this, you need to create a buzz around your product. Give it a brand, a voice, and an identity, and hype it up through every platform at your disposal, to make it stand out from the crowd.
Consider customer service
The number one rule in any business is; customer service is king. An important part of your how to start an online casino process is figuring out how you will best serve your client base. Just because you are in the online casino sector, doesn’t mean you should not prioritize customer service. In a market with so much competition and minimal brand loyalty, you need to strive to offer your clients the best service around. This will ensure they trust you and remain with you. There are several key components to top-notch customer service in the online casino industry.
You must provide your customers with several different ways of contacting you. You should display a postal address, telephone number, email address, social media links, and webchat. People have different preferences for how they want to interact, and this covers all of them. Customer service should also be accessible to those that speak other languages. Which languages you offer will depend on who is using your platform.
Your customer service team should be available 24-7-365. You can use a chatbot so that customers can have FAQs answered or be directed to the right department. Your team should be trained to acknowledge a customer’s request or question within a couple of hours, even if they cannot solve it at that moment. There should also be a commitment to solving the problem within a certain number of hours or days, and this target should be adhered to. Ensure that you are available in some way to your clients at all times and be careful to properly manage their expectations.
It never pays to hide anything or be dishonest with customers, even inadvertently. One of the smartest things you can do is to be transparent at all times. Be open and honest with all your policies and processes and be sure to communicate with your clients at all times. Don’t hide things like fees or terms and conditions from them and make it easy for them to access information, ask questions, and most importantly get answers. In a competitive industry such as online casino and one that has a precarious trust rating among consumers, it will always go in your favour if you are transparent at all times.
After several months of research, planning, and paperwork, it’s time to go live!
Contact Fast Offshore Today
Fast Offshore has been working with startups as well as well established online gaming companies for 22+ years. We have helped our clients make the right choices, realise their visions, overcome obstacles, and above all, succeed. Visit our Contact Us page for a 30-minute courtesy consultation. Let us help you take your business to the next level.
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