The EU may be relatively unified as a trading bloc, but when it comes to gambling laws, each nation varies slightly from many of its European neighbours. This can be confusing for some players, with the Schengen agreement allowing for widespread travel between states within the EU. It essentially means that you can cross over a seemingly invisible border and be forced to comply with a whole host of new gambling laws. With that in mind, here is everything you need to know about the current legality of gambling in Europe.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that there are online gambling jurisdictions within the continent’s borders. These include the Isle of Man, Malta, Alderney and Gibraltar. Some of these are members of the EU, and thus are subject to its various gambling regulations. However, others are independent, and hence, operate in something of a legal vacuum. Click here to find the best European casinos.
The most unified European voice when it comes to establishing continent-wide regulation is the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA). This body was set up to try and harbour a fair, competitive and regulated market for various online gambling operators wishing to provide their services in Europe. Based in Brussels, it was created in 2007 and has been instrumental in shaping guidelines ever since.
Despite the EU and EGBA’s best efforts, individual governments largely continue to shape their own legislation autonomously. Here then, are each major European nation’s gambling laws.
Numerous forms of gambling are legal in France. For this reason, three main bodies are chiefly responsible for implementing new laws: The Pari Mutuel Urbain (which mainly covers Horse Racing), the Francaise des Jeux (handles betting and lotteries) and ARJEL (which covers online gambling). In 2010, the nation’s government passed a legislative bill which fully legalised sports betting, Horse Racing betting and poker.
Germany shares a somewhat strained history with gambling, and hence, the laws are more complex. Legislation was introduced in 2008 that all but banned all forms of online gambling in the country – except for Horse Racing betting. However, two years later, the European Court of Justice ruled that the industry had become too monopolized in the nation, stating that the laws needed to become more liberal. In turn, the Interstate Treaty on Gambling (ISTG) came into effect in 2012 – which allowed companies to provide a handful of gambling services. This legislation was scrapped in all German states bar one: Schleswig Holstein. Therefore, many established operators hold one of their licences, as Germany is one of Europe’s biggest gambling markets.
Spain has moved to alter and amend gambling laws several times over the past decade. The most significant changes came in 2012, which allowed companies to apply for licences to operate in certain areas, but only on the condition that they comply with regional rules. Several companies successfully acquired licences from the Spanish National Gaming Commission and continue to operate freely to this very day. Currently, Spanish citizens can bet and play at any state licenced site. Industry titans such as Bet365 and William Hill now provide Spanish versions of their betting sites – such is the demand for online gambling in the sun-kissed Mediterranean nation.
Finally, we come to Italy, which has some of the most liberal gambling laws in Europe. In 2006, the country when against the grain by de-regulating the industry, allowing companies to provide sport betting services in certain real-world locations, as well as online. Big changes were subsequently made in 2011 when licensees were legally permitted to provide poker and casino games to customers. Today, Italians have a wide variety of sites to choose from, and a wide variety of gambling methods to indulge in.
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