Online casino industry regulations in Europe

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European Union, as an entity doesn’t regulate the law for online casinos. As long as they fulfil other EU treaties about fundamental rights and freedom, they are free to do what they want in the EU. 

All European countries are autonomous in that sense. Some states offer complete legalisation of all kinds of gambling, while others are rigorous and only allow some portion of games. It all depends on the country’s culture and the government. There are some serious discrepancies in the EU when it takes gambling legalisation. Each country has a different policy and tolerance for that kind of business. 

The EU only provides a way for gambling regulatory authorities to cooperate freely. They also help with security and protection for minors.

Here are the policies on online casinos for some of the more prominent European countries.

The United Kingdom

The UK’s gambling industry is a well-regulated system since 2005, when the Gambling Act came into play. In the UK you can freely play games in online casinos and the traditional ones as long as you’re over 18 years old. 

Scratchcards, lottery games and football pools are available to people when they’re at least 16 years of age.

The winnings are tax-free unless you’re a professional gambler. Operators can only become one by obtaining a license and paying 15% tax of all the profits. UK customers can play offshore online casinos without limits, too.

Germany

Germany’s law on online casinos is pretty complicated. While they allow online sports betting, online casinos and poker are not authorised. Nonetheless, the law that took effect earlier this year is a temporary framework. It’s a way for the whole gambling industry to be reorganised. 

Some German states agreed not to punish online casinos and poker only if they comply with the law that will be applied in the future – in June 2021. One of the conditions is less than 1 Euro per spin on slot machines. 

The treaty that came into play in January 2020 removed the cap for sports betting license applicants, which the previous two treaties contained.

So while it’s technically legal to gamble in online casinos in Germany, it comes with lots of restrictions.

France

France is very strict when it comes to online casinos. Only horse betting and poker are allowed to play online, provided the operator has a license. Casinos, lotteries and other games of chance like roulette are all banned on the internet in France. Lotteries remain the monopoly of the state.

It’s illegal to base the online casino abroad and take it to France. Sweepstakes games are entirely legal and can appear on the internet. It’s legal for games of chance to occur on television, betting on esports is in kind of a grey area, as the law does not cover it, and games at funfairs are legal too.

Italy

Italy has one of the best online casino regulations, as it’s one of the countries with a long gambling tradition. They’re very liberal and they allow online casinos to operate and offer all kinds of games. Even the ones based abroad. They have to comply with a few laws, but all in all, it’s very legal to gamble in online casinos.

It’s a popular market there, and it’s heavily regulated. It’s not that easy to obtain a license; hence so many businesses are trying to get one, as it’s a lucrative field. To obtain a permit, you need to prepare appropriate documentation and pay a fee. Then you need to wait three months for approval by the AAMS (Autonomous Administration of the State Monopolies).

Spain

You can gamble online in Spain, as long as the casino is licensed. The country authorities administer State-wide lotteries. The license must be obtained in Spain if an online casino comes from abroad. A requirement for all the licensed casinos is to have a domain ending with .es. Spain is relatively liberal when it comes to online casinos, virtually any gambling form is legal there, as long as the casino has a license.

A list of all the licensed Spanish online gambling service providers can be found here.

Austria

Austrian online casino regulations are the same as their land-based counterparts’. Online gambling providers that come from abroad are allowed even if they don’t have an Austrian license as of now. They even enable casinos that don’t have any licensing. Sports betting is not regulated at all, and you can choose the provider you want. Some of the states do have some limitations on when you can bet, how much and the type of bets such as injury or death.

Austria is liberal, too. Similarly to Italy and Spain, they allow most types of online gambling. 

Poland

The only types of online gambling permitted in Poland are promotional lotteries and private sports betting. All kinds of online games such as slots, poker or roulette are entirely banned. There are no limits on betting and lotteries. All websites need to have domains ending with .pl, much like in Spain. All of the servers and data related to the online casino need to be based in the EU. Also, you need to be at least 18 years of age to participate in legal gambling activities.

Slots, casino games such as poker, and bingo are only permitted in land-based casinos. Poland is one of the few EU countries that have a stringent and tight policy when it comes to online gambling.

Netherlands

It’s prohibited for online casinos to target the Dutch audience. It’s forbidden for any Dutch residents to play in online casinos. Next year though, it will be possible to obtain a license for Netherlands-based online gambling services. However, the Dutch are permitted to play in land-based casinos, as the state regulates them. You need to be at least 18 years of age to play. The gambling tax is considerable there, as it’s at 29%. It applies both to future online casinos and the land-based ones.

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About Annabel Johnson

Part time gamer, reviewer and blogger. Full time geek and tech expert!

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