Online Gambling in the EU


Online Gambling in the EUThe advent of online gambling paired with mobile technology has presented something of a quandary for member countries of the EU in terms of the regulation of casinos that have no physical location and players that can access those casinos from any location. Each individual country is primarily responsible for creating its own licensing requirements as well as enforcing them. However, there are also standard regulations that have been put forth by the EU in response to a growing need for cooperation between members for the purpose of player protection in this rapidly expanding industry. In order to better understand the complexities between the EU, individual member countries and the regulation of online gambling, we have to look at how the internal market relates to this industry and the risks that face the increasing number of online gamblers.

How Will Brexit Affect UK Players?

The UK Gambling Commission remains one of the most highly respected licensors in the world. For now, UK players’ primary concern may be how this will affect gaming taxes. Only time will reveal the full impact of Brexit on the online gambling industry and UK players.

The European Union and Mutual Recognition

The European Union is comprised of a collection of 28 member countries that share a single market based on the principle of mutual recognition which guarantees that people, services, goods and money can move freely between members. The number of members may drop from 28 to 27 due to the UK’s controversial Brexit which recently passed with a majority vote in June of 2016. While the UK has been a member since 1973, the current political wind is shifting toward independence from the EU. Currently, the remaining member countries include: Austria, Bulgaria, Belgium, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Finland, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Spain.

The European Union & Online Gambling

According to the European Commission, online gambling makes up 12% of the EU’s gambling market which is worth €84.9 billion. Online gambling is rapidly growing at an annual rate of nearly 15% with an increase of around €13 billion each year. It is estimated that 6.8 million online gamblers play their favorite casino games online including a variety of slots, poker, bingo, lottery, betting services & table games. With this growing number of players with access to online casinos via desktop and mobile devices, the risk of falling prey to fraud, money laundering and fixed sports betting has become increasingly apparent. [1]

In the industry of online gambling, each individual member country of the EU is primarily responsible for its own regulatory framework that applies to both players and online casinos. While there is quite a bit of diversity between members of the EU in this regard, in 2011, 85% of online gambling websites were unlicensed and unregulated spurring the EU into action.

The EU’s Action Plan for Online Gambling

In 2012, the EU set out a plan that encouraged cooperation between members and included standard regulations such as a minimum age requirement of 18 years, stipulations for aiding those with a gambling addiction, the prevention of fraud / money laundering, accountability for false advertising and policies protecting the integrity of sports betting.

These key elements of regulation and licensing have since become central to each member’s individualized regulatory requirements. The primary purpose in proposing these centralized regulations was to minimize the risks of online gambling in the areas of fraud and money laundering. The EU encouraged these measures in response to the increasing need to protect players from fraudulent online casinos.

Bilateral Cooperation Agreements in Online Gambling Licensing and Regulation

While regulatory frameworks containing centralized components are individual to each member, there are also some instances of bilateral cooperation agreements between EU members. For instance, in 2011 France and Italy’s gambling authorities used shared experience to improve the effectiveness of regulation. In 2012, Denmark and Malta shared information to improve both licensing and regulation across borders. In addition, Denmark also cooperated with Alderney, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar. That shared experience has gone a long way in enforcing the regulations that protect players from online threats.



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