The Current State of Sports Betting in Europe

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When it comes to the countries with highest gross gambling revenue (GGR), European countries are always on the top of the list.

As reported by the European Gaming & Betting Association, Europe’s gross gambling revenue (GGR) is projected to rise by 7.5% in 2021.

The massive growth of Europe’s online gambling market is mostly attributable to restricted land-based gambling across European countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

European countries that have seen tremendous growth in the remote gambling market include France, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain, Netherlands, and Finland.

According to Statista, a German database company, online sports betting accounts for the most part of Europe’s overall online gross gambling revenue (GGR). The growth of the online gambling industry is not uniform in all European countries. This is due to lack of uniformity in legislation related to sports betting and online gambling in different European  jurisdictions.

While Europe is considered as a unified economic bloc, every country has the autonomy to enact their own legislation and organise their gambling services. However, the laws enacted by each country have to be in compliance with the fundamental freedoms instituted under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), as explained by the Court of Justice of the EU.

As there is no sector-specific legislation by the European Union in the field of sports betting or online gambling, the sports betting situation in each country is different. Some countries have a well-structured framework for the regulation of sports betting.

Germany and Spain, for example, have regulatory laws for online sports betting at both state and local level. Similarly, sports betting sites in the Netherlands are regulated by the Dutch Gaming Authority. However, no regulatory frameworks have been enacted in Ireland. Here’s an overview of the current state of sports betting in different European countries:

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, it’s legal to gamble online. All one gambling activities are subject to regulation by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), an executive non-departmental Government body that oversees gaming law in the country. United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) issues operating licences to online casinos and sportsbooks and sanctions casino operators that fail to comply with established regulatory framework.


In Finland, sports betting is completely legal as long as the wagering takes place under the purview of the authorised government monopolies of the country.

The authorised government monopolies regulating sports betting include Fintoto Oy, Veikkaus Oy, and Penningautomatförening (a.k.a. PAF or Play Among Friends). PAF is the official operator of the Aland Island and regulates most of Finland’s online sports betting market.

While the citizens are supposed to stick with only government-authorised operators for all forms of wagering, there is no formal legislation in place that bars Finns from engaging in offshore betting. Though there are no penalties for wagerers who bet on offshore sites, the Finnish government can prohibit offshore sportsbooks from advertising in local media.

Nonetheless, the government may take a firmer stance on unregulated offshore gambling in the future. With that said, it would be smart to check the list of Finnish betting sites at Basketballinsiders before you start wagering.

As reported by the Ministry of Interior Legislative Affairs, the government does not have any immediate plans to ban offshore Finnish betting sites, although the government is prepared to make legislative changes if necessary.


According to the criminal code of Italy, all forms of gambling are illegal except sports betting, lotteries, and some other activities in which the outcome is dependent on the player’s skills rather than luck. However, the laws regarding online gambling are even more liberal. All gambling activities that are deemed legal under the criminal code of the country are properly regulated. Operators must acquire a state-issued licence called the AAMS certification to run sportsbooks.

Though the laws regarding sports betting in Italy are moderate as compared to other European states, the Italian gambling market is highly regulated. Unlicensed ISPs can easily be sanctioned, therefore you must wager on licensed platforms.


Most forms of online gambling were legalised in France in 2010. Different gamblig activities are regulated by different bodies. For online sports betting, operators have to acquire a state-issued licence from ARJEL (National Gaming Authority). ARJEL is an independent authoritative body that regulates online sports betting in France.


In Germany, sports betting is legal both on online sportsbooks and in land-based casinos. However, the legal status of sports betting was not always the same.The passing of the Interstate Gambling Treaty marked a huge turning point in the history of online gambling in Germany.

The legislation authorised 20 sportsbooks to acquire state-issued online betting licences. However, the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2016 declared that the German government could not block or penalise international sportsbooks from offering their services to the people of Germany. The Interstate Gambling Treaty is now abolished in all regions of Germany except Schleswig Holstein.

Other Countries

Sports betting is legal in Spain as long as you players bet on sportsbooks that have licence from the Spanish National Gaming Commission. Austria also allows sports betting on sites licensed by Austrian authorities. While gambling laws in Austria make it difficult for operators to obtain licences, the country’s gambling laws do not explicitly forbid players from engaging in offshore betting or betting on unlicensed sites.

Similarly, Sweden also allows online betting on government-authorised sites. The Swedish government has issued licences to a multitude of offshore betting sites. In Switzerland, only licensed operators are allowed to run lotteries and sports betting.

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