Online Gambling Acceptance in EU – An overview of gambling regulations in Europe

An overview of gambling regulations in Europe

Europe or at least the European Union (EU), is considered to be a single entity. This is both, true and not true at the same time. Or to put it lightly, “it’s complicated”. Yes, there is the EU, which governs most of the trade laws of all its member states. But a lot of rules and regulations for individual countries is decided by the countries themselves. And this includes gambling laws. Each European Union member has a different take on gambling, including online gambling in collaboration with IAGR – The International Association of Gaming Regulators. This can pose a challenge for anyone trying to navigate through the legal seas of gambling, especially online casinos. The following is a list of countries in the EU and their regulations regarding gambling in general and online casinos in particular.

Online gambling in the EU is characterized by diverse regulatory frameworks with some EU countries having monopolistic regimes run by a sole public or a private operator, and others having established licensing systems for more than one operator. Online gambling is a fast developing activity in Europe, both in terms of supply and demand. Different kinds of gambling services often operate across borders and can also operate outside the control of individual EU countries’ national authorities. Because consumers in Europe search beyond national borders for more competitive online gambling services, they can be exposed to risks such as fraud.

German laws regarding online gambling are one of the most complex ones. In the year of 2008, legislators in Germany essentially banned all forms of gambling, except those connected with horse racing. Not surprisingly, the EGBA (European Gambling and Betting Association) immediately challenged the German government’s ruling. They argued that it went against the EU’s attitude towards gambling. Two years later, a German court ruled against the legislation. The result of all this was that in 2012 some private companies were allowed to offer online gambling services. But in 2013 the newly elected government decided to ban gambling again. However, the licenses that were given in 2012 is good for another year. So, at least until 2018, they should be able to gamble in peace.
The French, not surprisingly, has some of the most liberal laws regarding gambling. In fact, They even have three separate governing bodies. Francaise des Jeux deals with betting and lotteries, Pari Mutuel Urbain looks over the horse racing bets and a group called the ARJEL takes care of online betting. Back in 2009, because of requests from EU, France introduced a new bill to legalize online gambling. However, before you jump on your horses to go out and start betting, you need to know that not all forms of online gambling have been legalized. The three that were given the green light are poker, horse racing, and sports betting. This means that spread betting, exchange betting, and casino games are still illegal. Online gambling licenses are issued by ARJEL. Online Casinos that Accept French Players
Italy is in some ways even more liberal compared to France when it comes to online gambling. Even when other countries were closing doors on gambling of any kind, Italy allowed sports betting in certain locations. In 2011, all that changed. Italy opened its doors to online casino and poker games. Online Casinos that accept Italian Players
Spain was similar to Germany in that they kept changing the laws regarding online gambling. It seemed as if one day it was legal and the next day it was not. In fact, the joke was that people began betting to see if the laws would change again! But jokes aside, the Spanish now can bet online in peace. This is because the laws changed again in online gambling’s favor in 2012. Basically, as long as the provider holds a gaming license in Spain, they can offer their services there. Consequently, numerous sites provide poker, betting and various other games. Online Casinos that accept Spanish Players
Ireland is perhaps the most liberal and easy going on this list. They legalized online gambling way back in 2003! And what’s more, they haven’t changed the basic laws. Today the Irish continue to enjoy the pleasure of gambling online. All that a gambling service provider has to do is get the local permits before accepting Irish players.

Belgium amended its laws to allow online gaming in 2011. However, the companies providing the service must be based in Belgium. The two types of gambling allowed are cash gaming and lotteries.

Austria has licensed the online gaming with a twist. It only allows gaming companies to offer their services to citizens of Austria. However, Austrian citizens are also allowed to play online games based outside of Austria. As far as marketing their wares go, only gaming companies based and licensed in Austria are allowed to do so.

The polish laws are pretty straightforward. Companies without a Polish license cannot legally offer services to Polish citizens. Consequently, Polish citizens are not allowed to gamble with companies not based or licensed in Poland. Online casinos that accept Polish players

Czech Republic
As of now, five companies are allowed to offer their services to Czech citizens. No one else has been given a license. This means the Czech cannot legally play online gambling with companies based abroad. There has been talk of all the rules being changed. However, it hasn’t happened yet. Online Casinos that accept Czech Players

Slovakia, like Ireland, has a relaxed attitude towards online gambling. They pretty much allow every company to operate there, as long as the government gets its share of the pie. As a result, just about every type of online gambling can be done there.

They may be able to buy legal marijuana in the Netherlands, but online gambling is still very controlled and restricted by the state. The online gaming companies are owned and operated by the state. However, talk of new and more liberal regulations have been doing the rounds since 2015, with little change.

Sweden & Finland
These two countries are similar in that they don’t have a specific rule or licensing for online gambling. It comes under the jurisdiction of lotteries. In both countries, online gambling of some type is offered. Mostly betting games and horse race betting. Online Casinos that accept players from Sweden and online casinos that accept players from Finland

Norway has the state-owned gaming system. Licensing has not been given to private parties. The state-owned gaming organization is called the Norsk Tipping, and they offer sports and number games online. Online casinos that accept players from Norway

Greece is one of those countries that can’t seem to make up their mind on gambling in general. However, they do have a state-run agency that has a monopoly on sports betting and random number generating online games. The state plans to hold on to its monopoly at least until 2020 before they allow third party vendors. Online Casinos that accept players from Greece

Bulgaria opened its doors to online gambling back in 2008. They have encouraged competition by giving many companies licenses to operate and also by giving them tax breaks.

Hungary and Romania
Hungary and Romania both have licensed gaming services. This means as long as they are playing a game based in these countries it is legal. Romania has taken things a step further by blocking companies that don’t have a local license, to offer their services in their country. Online Casinos that accept players from Romania

Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia
The situation in Lithuania is quite simple. Online gambling is still illegal. In Latvia, however, online gambling has been legal and licensed since 2003. Estonia was a little late to the party, but they opened up to online gambling in 2010. However, they have only given licenses to seven operators. Gambling with unlicensed companies is still illegal. Online casinos that accept players from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia

For a long time, the Portuguese had a very small choice as far as online gambling is considered. It was strictly a state-run monopoly. But in 2015 the rules changed. Now it has loosened the rules, allowing gambling companies from other parts of the world to set up shop. Not only that, Portuguese citizens can gamble with companies based outside their borders. Online casinos that accept players from Portugal

Cyprus makes it to the list of countries which have a relaxed attitude towards Online gambling. They have local as well as international companies offering services. However, online gambling is limited to lotteries and sports betting.

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