How to Start a Casino Business

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Brick-and-mortar casinos are licensed by states where they are legally allowed to operate. Many states only allow casinos to operate on Native American Indian reservations. Due to the historical backdrop of organized crime ownership, background investigations are required to own, control, manage or be employed in casinos. Criminal and civil background checks revealing any connection with criminal activity or relationships with criminals can lead to denial or revocation of casino licenses as well as denial or revocation of liquor licenses.

Online casinos, usually operated offshore, have faced legal attack by regulators and will not be included in this discussion.

How to Start a Casino Business

Research the laws where you wish to open a casino to ensure that you will be able to legally operate there. If you intend to serve liquor in your casino, you will also need to know the application procedures for obtaining a liquor license. You should consider retaining an attorney to handle legal matters.

Obtain applications, instructions and information about the fees and background checks required from the casino licensing division in the state where you intend to establish operations.

Locate a site or existing building where you wish to open the casino.

Arrange for contingent financing that will be available upon receiving approval to operate. Your business plan should be detailed enough that you can demonstrate the viability of your casino plans.

Develop a sound, formal business plan that describes the details of how you intend to operate and finance your casino operations. You will eventually need the plan to present to other investors, if any, as well as to regulators. You will need to fully discuss any and all criminal arrests and convictions prior to issuance of a permit to operate your casino.

Apply for your casino license and pay the license application fee. You and any other investors and employees will need to submit fingerprint cards and undergo very thorough background checks.

Attend formal hearings where your background check results and review of your business plans will be conducted. If your license is denied, you may wish to appeal the denial, which may require payment of additional fees and presentation of the legal basis for your appeal.

Conduct background checks on all prospective employees, such as card dealers.

Prepare to open your casino. These preparations will include conducting background checks on, and obtaining licenses for, all prospective employees, acquisition of equipment and supplies, and promoting the grand opening of your casino.


  • Providing false information on your application or at a hearing on your application can result in severe criminal penalties.