There is no unified online gambling law governing Europe. Which means that most countries in the region have framed their own betting laws and licensing criteria.
Below, we give a brief account of the various online gambling rules and legislations of some major European countries.
Malta Gaming Authority
The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is one of the oldest and the chief regulatory and licensing authority for the online gambling industry in Europe.
As per the MGA website, their motto is to “To regulate competently the various sectors of the gaming industry that fall under the Authority by ensuring gaming is fair and transparent to the players, preventing crime, corruption and money laundering and by protecting minor and vulnerable players.”
The Authority issues 2 types of licences:
- A business to consumer Gaming Service licence to carry out gaming services including games of chance, games of chance and skill, and skill games.
- A business-to-business Critical Gaming Supply licence to carry out a critical gaming supply.
Because of MGA’s excellent reputation, openness, and fairness, the best European online casinos choose MGA to obtain a remote gambling licence. MGA-licensed online casinos are regarded in high standing due to the strict requirements to obtain the MGA gaming licence.
The Malta Gaming Authority ensures player protection, fair gaming, and protects vulnerable individuals and minors from gambling. The authority provides effective player protection with measures such as mandating an Alternative Dispute Resolution framework to handle player complaints.
To know if a casino is holding an MGA licence, scroll down to the bottom of any casino’s website and check if it holds an MGA licence. Alternatively, visit https://www.mga.org.mt/licences/ and use MGA’s search function to quickly find an operator’s licence details.
Online Casino Regulations in the UK
All forms of betting are legal in the UK, whether land based or virtual. Any online casino that wants to operate and advertise in the UK, must obtain a remote gambling licence from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
UKGC makes sure that a UK online casino is safe, secure, and its games fair and random. Furthermore, UKGC ensures that no underage gambling takes place in UK licensed casinos.
A bettor must be at least 18 years old to play in a UK casino. Brits are not liable to pay any taxes on their winnings when playing in licensed British online casinos.
Online Casino Regulations in Denmark
Denmark is another country where online casinos and/or betting is licensed and regulated. An online casino must obtain a gambling licence issued by the Danish Gambling Authority (DGA) Spillemyndigheden in order to serve Danish online casino players.
DGA protects the players against unfair and illegal gambling. The minimum age for online betting in Denmark is 18 years, and Danish punters are not taxed on wins from online betting.
As confirmed by the Danish Ministry of Taxation on April 5, 2019, “if a player plays at an operator that holds a Danish licence to offer e.g. betting, lottery, games on slot machines etc., the winnings are not subject to taxation. The reasoning is that the winnings are already taxed before the payout to the player. If an operator does not hold a Danish licence, the player’s winnings are subject to taxation.”
Online Casino Regulations in Finland
Gambling is a monopoly (state-owned) in Finland and regulated by the Lotteries Act. In 2017 Finland’s three state gambling monopolies were merged under the name Veikkaus.
Veikkaus operates the famous Casino Helsinki that donates all of its profits to charity. Self-exclusion and various player protection measures are in place at Finnish gambling venues.
At present, there is no provision of offering betting licences to either home-grown or offshore online casinos in Finland. So, while technically it is not legal to play in offshore casinos, Finnish players are free to gamble online.
Online Casino Regulations in Norway
All gambling in Norway is regulated by the two state-owned organizations: Norsk Rikstoto and Norsk Tipping.
Currently, Norway doesn’t allow offshore casino operators to step into its jurisdiction, nor does it grant them any gambling licences.
Norwegian punters are not prohibited from playing in offshore online casinos for Norway, though.
Online Casino Regulations in Sweden
The Swedish Gambling Authority, Spelinspektionen, issues remote licences to online casinos wanting to offer their services in Sweden.
Spelinspektionen formulates Swedish online gambling regulations and promotes responsible gambling.
Swedes need to be at least 18 years old to play in online casinos. There is no tax on players’ winnings when they play in licensed Swedish online casinos.
Online Casino Regulations in Germany
Germany’s casinos are both state-owned and also run by private enterprises. There is currently no provision for legalisation of online casinos in Germany.
A new interstate treaty has been approved by the German government, which would offer licensing to online casinos in Germany from around mid 2021.
It remains to be seen what happens to the licensing of offshore online casinos for Germany at that time. As of now, German players are forbidden to play in these casinos, even though enforcement is largely lacking.
Online Casino Regulations in Latvia
Online gambling is permitted and regulated in Latvia by the Lotteries And Gambling Supervisory Inspection Of Latvia (IAUI).
Both, land based and online casinos in Latvia, are permitted to operate provided they hold a valid gambling licence issued by Latvia’s gambling regulator IAUI.
Online casino gaming is on the rise in Latvia, with slot machines being the overwhelming favourite. The industry’s Gross Gaming in 2019 totalled €307.1m, a 10.5% year-on-year increase.
Online Casino Regulations in France
Online gambling industry in France comprises online sports betting, casino games, poker, bingo, horse race betting, and lotteries.
In 2020, France’s new gambling regulator L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ) took over from the erstwhile l’Autorité nationale de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL). ANJ now acts as a single body to supervise all forms of gambling in the country.
ANJ is also be responsible for issuing gambling licensing to operators, preventing fraud and money laundering, and promoting responsible gambling in France.
While land-based casinos are legalised in France, the same is not the case with online casinos (as yet). Currently, there is no licensing offered for French online casinos, either offshore or country based.
Which means that if you’re in France and want to play casino games online, you’ll have to look at international online casinos that accept players from France. Obviously, these sites are not licensed by the French regulator ANJ, and usually hold gambling licences of other jurisdictions.
Online Casino Regulations in Spain
The Spanish Gambling Act (2011 ) governs all forms of gambling in Spain, both offline and online. The Directorate General for Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ) regulates and oversees all forms of online betting, except for lotteries.
Any gambling operator that wishes to serve Spanish players thus needs to hold a DGOJ betting licence in Spain. Furthermore, all licensed online operators are taxed (obviously) and need to conduct their business from a Spanish domain (.es).
Illegal or unlicensed betting websites are vigorously hunted down and face harsh penalties under the Spanish law.
The winnings from online gambling in Spain are considered as income and thus taxed. The only solace is that for tax purposes, the betting losses are discounted from the winnings.
Online Casino Regulations in Italy
Italy’s highest gambling licensing and regulatory body, Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM), oversees all the gambling operations in the country. Until 2014, the ADM was known as Autonomous Administration of the State Monopolies (AAMS).
Online gambling in Italy became fully legal in 2011. Both domestic gaming companies and offshore operators need to obtain a gambling licence from the ADM before they can legally offer their services to Italian players.
Gambling (both land-based and online) in Italy is prohibited for minors (under the age of 18). Currently, Italy has legalised these forms of betting.
- Online casino games (slots, table games, poker, poker tournaments, craps, scratchcards, keno, slingo, arcade, etc.)
- Online sports betting
- Live casino gaming
- Lottery and bingo
- Horse race betting
To obtain a gaming licence, the operators have to pay a hefty licensing fee of €350,000, besides fulfilling other criteria set by ADM.
The taxation is also on the higher side, with operators having to pay a 22% tax on their gross revenue. Player winnings are also taxed up to 20% of the winnings.
The relatively high taxes and the strict requirements for licensing means that only the big guns of the industry, such as, LeoVegas Casino Italy, have entered the Italian market.
Italian players are not prosecuted for playing in unlicensed offshore online casinos. However, unlicensed operators do face harsh penalties if they accept Italian players. Most unlicensed casino sites are blocked at the ISP level.
Online Casino Regulations in The Netherlands
The Netherlands is one of the EU’s biggest online gambling markets, with an approximate value of 800 million euros.
Starting 1st October 2021, it is legal to gamble online in the Netherlands. The Dutch Remote Gambling Act (KOA Act) came into force on 1st April 2021, marking the era of regulated online gambling in Holland.
Soon afterwards, the Dutch Gambling Authority, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) invited private operators (both Dutch and international) to obtain operating licences in the newly regulated market. As of now, about ten operators, such as Holland Casino, Bet365, and TOTO have been granted a Dutch gambling licence. This number is expected to go up as more pending applications get approved.
A Dutch remote gambling licence allows online casinos in Holland to offer games of chance (online slots, casino table games such as roulette and blackjack, poker, bingo, and sports/horse race betting) to Dutch players.
Regulated operators are required to fulfil strict requirements regarding player protection, gambling addiction, advertising, and also have to pay betting and gambling taxes. Do note that it is illegal for Dutch players to play in online casinos not licensed by the Dutch Gambling Authority.