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Most Common Online Casino Restrictions in the EU


Since time immemorial, gambling has been an essential part of Europe’s culture. Some of today’s most popular table games originate in Europe, and the Old Continent is also home to the first casinos in the world, too.

Europe is the place where most gambling activities originate, but it is also the place where the first gambling-related regulations and restrictions were introduced. As you might know, Europe is notorious for its liberal laws, and that is why most non-Europeans believe that even gambling-related legislation is liberalised. Well, it is true that laws tend to be more liberal here than in the USA for example, but gambling legislation is generally regarded as strict.

Today’s article focuses on some of the most common gambling restrictions in the EU. We will look into the gambling legislation of some of the most developed EU member states and explore the gambling restrictions within those states.

Gambling legislation in France

Up until 2009, a French citizen could only indulge in casino gaming activities at land-based casinos. But that is not all – the state imposed heavy taxes on operators, which made the weak gambling activity within France even weaker. So, what changed in 2009?

In 2009, the French government issued a bill, which legalised three online wagering activities – sports betting, betting on horse races, and poker. A year later, the EU member state created the French Regulatory Authority for Online Games (ARJEL). At present, ARJEL oversees online gambling activities and issues gambling licenses to operators in France.

There are still no online casino games available, except for poker and poker varieties. According to the French government online casino games and spread betting activities should not be licensed because of their addictive nature.

Gambling legislation in Spain

Spain, which is home to some of the world’s best football teams, is another EU member state where gambling flourishes. Unlike France, Spain is much more liberal in terms of online betting.

In 2011, the Spanish government approved the Spanish Gambling Act, according to which almost all gambling activities (namely, mutual sports betting, bingo, baccarat, blackjack, horse racing, poker, roulette, fixed odds betting, slots) are legal and as such can be played by all adults. The same year the government established an electronic system to regulate and supervise all betting activities. According to Spanish laws and,  gambling legislation is drawn by the state in cooperation with authorities in individual regions.

Apparently, there is only one odd gambling restriction in Spain. Since the introduction of the 2011 Act, each online operator who wants to obtain a Spanish license should have a Spanish domain (.es.), which essentially bans most foreign operators.

Gambling legislation in Italy

It is believed that the gambling industry was born in Venice, Italy. The city boasts the world’s oldest casino and is also home to one of the best casino table games – baccarat. Gambling has been flourishing in the EU member state over the several centuries, but what about today’s gambling state of affairs?

Contrary to what one might expect, Italy used to impose a number of gambling restrictions – up until recently the only legal form of gambling in the EU member state was sports betting and lottery betting. What is more, players were not allowed to play at foreign gambling sites. Things changed as late as 2006, when games like poker, video poker and a few cash games were permitted. Fixed-odds betting games were allowed in 2010.

Gambling laws were amended in 2009 in 2010, foreign gambling sites could finally offer services to Italian citizens, so long as they have an Italian gambling license from the AAMS (Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies). Finally, the AAMS issues gambling licenses only to operators offering the following games: casino games, betting on horse races and on sports, bingo games, poker games, and games of skill.

Gambling legislation in Germany

Germany is an EU member state, which boasts one of the most luxurious land-based casinos in the world. And yet, the gambling landscape within the country is the most complex in all Europe. The fact that the state has introduced a number of changes to gambling legislation in recent years does not make it any easier to comprehend, too.

Initially, betting on horse races was the only legal form of online betting, but from 2008 to 2012 all gambling activities were made illegal. At the same time, one German state legalised betting and even issued gaming licenses.

And then, in 2012, the German Interstate Treaty was signed. The treaty made it impossible to issue gambling licenses within the country and allowed the issuing of 23 licenses to online casinos, which are valid to 2018. Moreover, a sports betting licensing procedures were initiated the same year, but sports betting was later ruled illegal in 2016. Consequently, no sports betting licenses are issued by German authorities.

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