What Does “Offshore Casino” Mean?

Every online industry has its own slang. There are specific terms used in marketing, social media, and streaming; why would online gambling be an exception? There are quite a few specific terms used only in the iGaming industry. One of the most common ones is “offshore casino”. What does this even mean in an industry with no geographical constraints?

When casinos were literally “offshore,”

Anthony Cornero Stralla, also known as “The Admiral” or “Tony the Hat, ” wore many hats. He got his nickname after the fleet of shrimping ships that he used to smuggle Canadian whiskey into the US during the Prohibition era.

After Prohibition was repealed, he reinvented himself as a casino entrepreneur. He established floating casinos on board two large ships, the SS Rex and the SS Tango. He anchored them just outside US waters to avoid interference from the authorities. The Los Angeles elite would take “water taxis” to reach the ships if they wanted to enjoy some fine dining and gambling.

Offshore casinos today

In the digital age, “offshore” means very different things. In iGaming, it no longer refers to online casinos hosted in international waters… although The Pirate Bay once tried to do something similar. Instead, it refers to casinos based outside a certain territory.

To operate, an online casino needs a license issued by a jurisdiction. There are quite a few of them, but only a few are tacitly accepted by countries without their own licensing scheme:

  • Curacao, the oldest and one of the most cost-effective ones
  • Malta, one of the most respected ones
  • Kahnawake, a North American Native territory

Online casinos with licenses issued by these regulators are considered offshore, as they target different territories than the ones that have issued their gambling licenses.

Some examples of offshore casinos

Canada is considered one of the top online gambling markets in the world. At the same time, it’s a region with gambling legislation that’s seriously lacking. Since it doesn’t prohibit players’ access to offshore casinos, almost every online casino focused on the country can be considered “offshore”. Except for the ones in Ontario, this province has a casino licensing scheme.

South Africa is another example. The country does have a licensing scheme, but it’s only half a measure: it fails to regulate online casinos. This makes operators like Punt Casino, popular destinations for South African players, qualify as “offshore”.

Is it legal to play at offshore casinos?

It depends on the country where you live. Playing at an offshore casino can be illegal in countries with their own licensing schemes. In Romania, for example, players who win at an offshore casino can be fined, and their winnings can be confiscated. In other countries, there are no such restrictions: players can choose the online casino where they play.

Offshore casinos went from luxury boats anchored off the shore of California to gambling operations outside a country’s licensing scheme (if any). And, just like in the time of “The Admiral,” some offshore casinos can be fishy – so make sure you do your homework before playing at one of them.

Daniel Odoh
Daniel Odoh

A technology writer and smartphone enthusiast with over 9 years of experience. With a deep understanding of the latest advancements in mobile technology, I deliver informative and engaging content on smartphone features, trends, and optimization. My expertise extends beyond smartphones to include software, hardware, and emerging technologies like AI and IoT, making me a versatile contributor to any tech-related publication.

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