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Online Gambling Regulations in EU: How Do Countries Differ From One Another

Though gambling has never stopped being a controversial topic worldwide, the activity still rises to the top and even conquered the virtual space. The European Union is known for being the world leader in digital entertainment, owning about 49% of the world’s online gambling market.


Despite all this success, betting and gaming aren’t still standardized throughout Europe. Different gambling laws are applied in different countries and regions. Most authorize at least some of the games to be offered online. There are some that allow all games, but there are also countries that allow specific types like betting, casino games, and poker.


The European Union has the support of the European Commission in modernizing the legal framework of their online gambling activities. This article will provide a look at the bigger picture of the European online gambling scene. The gambling regulations of five different countries will also be listed below.


The European Union’s Online Gambling Regulations


Though the European Union law has addressed specific issues on online gaming, some individual member states use their own gambling laws and regulations however they want. There exists no uniform blanket for an EU-wide framework for online gambling. And it is still unclear for many if there will ever be even one.


Gambling regulators follow a common law in the EU, the ever-strict Know Your Customer (KYC) condition. This law requires that every player participating in any game must be appropriately identified before they are allowed to play.


There is also the implementation of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive that allows gambling regulators to administer a risk-based assessment to all participating players. This is to mitigate any potential money laundering and crime risks happening in the event of online betting.


In general, there aren’t many strict laws passed against individuals who wish to participate in online gambling. All the online regulations are only applied to the industry of gambling that prioritizes consumer protection.


Starting an online casino is legal too. In some countries, the business is available to any private enterprise, provided that gambling operators can obtain the required licenses. But some countries criminalize almost everything except monopolies owned by the state. Listed below are some licensing categories to consider:


  • Open Licensing: License is given provided that an enterprise meets the specific licensing criteria. A good example would be Malta.
  • Restricted Licensing: The issuance of the license is limited, but the entire process is allowed for gaming companies to venture into. The countries that follow this regulation include Belgium, Czech Republic, and Greece.
  • State Monopoly: All licenses are only granted to a government-owned entity. The countries that observe this gambling regulation are Switzerland, Slovakia, Sweden, Poland, and Norway.



The gambling laws observed in Italy are relatively liberal when compared to other European countries. What distinguishes them is that players aren’t taxed based on their winnings; instead, gambling operators are accountable for licensing fees and tax revenues.


But AGCOM, the country’s advertising and communication regulator, has banned any direct or indirect advertising, promotional communications, or sponsorship related to gambling of all sorts.



All games allowed by the Gambling Act in Bulgaria can be legally organized online through the internet or any other electronic device like smartphones, radio, or TV (except for instant lotteries and raffles). When applying for an enterprise, gambling operators have to pay BGN 100,000 as a one-off fee for the license issuance.


United Kingdom

This country has the freest gambling industry in the entire Europe. Private gambling operators in the UK can quickly obtain their licenses and offer every form of gambling like sports betting, casino games, and bingo and gaming machines, be it offline or online. The minimum legal age for any gambling in the United Kingdom is 18 years old.



Belgium is among the several countries that have the strictest regulations when it comes to both offline and online gambling. Any casino game advertisement on TV has been banned across the country as it promotes gambling to the people. Though sports betting is allowed, it is still heavily restricted by the government.



As the entire online gambling industry continues to evolve, so are gambling laws across the European Union too. More and more countries will adapt and adjust their regulations as the online gambling industry’s revenue continues to increase.

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