The European Union is the world's first region where similar economic and political values govern member states. However, this differs from the online casino sector, where the 27 member states are autonomous. They are mandated to freely regulate their gaming services as they see fit so long as the laws align with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
This explains the diverse online casino regulatory frameworks across the region, which spans over 4 million square kilometers. The liberty for countries to control their online gaming sector has seen some countries develop a monopolistic system of governance. Other nations, however, allow private entities to offer gaming services on the condition that they stick to the set rules. This structure is the reason for the continuous growth of the EU iGaming market, which is expected to flourish further in the coming years.
EU ONLINE CASINO MARKET AND ITS SPECULATED GROWTH
The increasing reliance on the Internet, together with the rise of new hardware and technology developments, is one of the major drivers propelling the growth of the online casino market in Europe. The iGaming scene in the European Union is advancing rapidly, thanks to the dedication of premium software providers and casino operators. This has seen the increase of online casinos in Europe, allowing players to browse through the amazing lineup of quality casinos whenever they want to have an outstanding online gaming experience. In 2021 alone, Europe's online market size reached US$ 34.6 Billion. With the ongoing trends, the industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.9%, thereby hitting US$ 56.8 Billion by 2027. Other factors fueling the growth of Europe's iGaming market include blockchain, virtual reality, and the transparency of iGaming activities. It is also vital to note that countries such as France, Germany, Finland, and Spain have a significant gaming community that is continuously upsurging. That makes them key in the future of the European iGaming market.
TOP EUROPEAN UNION ONLINE IGAMING REGULATORY BODIES BY COUNTRY
Each of the 27 European Union member states has specific laws regarding online casino gaming. This is per the directive from the EU governing body that every country has the right to formulate its online casino gaming laws. Some of the countries whose online casinos are controlled by top regulatory bodies and whose gambling laws are worth noting include:
REPUBLIC OF MALTA
Malta is an archipelago between Cecily and the North African coast. It was the first nation in the EU to offer online casino gaming services. Casino gaming enthusiasts can play games at different brands without legal repercussions. Besides, it is home to one of the most recognized regulatory bodies, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), which has been operational since 2001. The organization regulates Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) services provided by different companies in the online gaming scene.
The B2C license The Malta Gaming Authority offers covers different games. For instance, Type One covers games of chance played against the house and whose results are generated by Random Number Generators. These include blackjack, poker, and baccarat games. Slots games are the main reason behind the springing up of online gaming worldwide, also fall under this category. The MGA also offers Type two, three, and type four licenses. Therefore, operators can choose the license type depending on the games they plan to offer. It is also possible to apply for all types of licenses, especially if the casino contains different games.
REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS
Cyprus is the third largest Island in the Mediterranean and one of the biggest markets for online casino services. The country restricted gaming until 2012, when it passed a law regulating different forms of betting. In 2019, the act was amended, sealing different loopholes in the industry. Unlike Malta, gaming in Cyprus is operated by the state but to an extent. The nation also allows private entities to provide players with gaming services so long as they stick to the set laws. This has seen the rise of multiple online casino sites in the region.
Sites operating in Cyprus use different innovations to guarantee customer satisfaction, just like online casinos in Latvia make the best use of technology. The National Betting Authority, or the NBA, regulates the online gaming industry. Every operator offering online gaming services must have a Class B license. However, the license excludes online casinos, lotteries, and, most importantly, slot machines. Operators can apply for a Class B license that covers one or two years, depending on their preference.
Hellenic Republic, or Greece, has been part of the European Union for quite a long time now. The cradle of civilization allows different types of online casino gaming services regulated by the Hellenic Gaming Commission or HGC. The governing body comprises nine officials, all of which are appointed by the Ministry of Finance. Greece allows private entities to offer gaming services to players on the condition they hold valid online gaming licenses. So far, the Hellenic Gaming Commission offers two different gaming permits to operators running online gaming platforms. The Type A license is exclusive to betting on sports, whereas the Type B license is given to companies that offer online casino gaming services. Therefore, operators should have a Type B license to provide gamers with slots and poker games. Thus, Greece accepts different forms of online casino gaming, and private entities interested in tapping the market can apply for the respective licenses.
France is a recognized member of the European Union. It is one of the countries where online casino gaming is allowed. However, unlike most member states of the EU, France has three regulatory bodies that issue different forms of betting licenses to companies. The governing bodies include Francaise des Jeux, which regulates lotteries and betting games; ARJEL which monitors online gaming; and The Pari-Mutuel, which is in charge of horse racing.
Italy is a renowned EU member state with a long coastline, multiple landmarks, and some of the best cuisines. Italy is also one of the few countries where betting laws are liberal. In 2006, Italy passed a law allowing private entities to offer citizens online gambling services. Five years later, the law was amended, favoring gamers and casino softwares companies. This is because the nation, through its regulatory body, Agenzia Dogane e Monopoly di Stato, finally allowed licensees to offer its players' casino games.
Agenzia Dogane e Monopoly di Stato does not just dish out licenses to eligible operators; the governing body also monitors corruption, fraud and money laundering. The fascinating aspect is that players are not required to remit taxes for their winnings. Instead, the license holders get to bear the burden. To curb gambling problems, Italy is set to ban all promotions and gaming advertisements, both direct and indirect. This will be done through its advertisement body, Autorià per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni. The same applies to different forms of sponsorships by online gaming industries.
From the examples above, it is clear that the legal frameworks for online casinos in the EU are extensive. Each EU member state has different gaming laws enacted by their respective governments. Countries that accept online gaming are governed by distinct bodies whose purpose is to issue licenses and prevent abuse of players by operators. Some, like Agenzia Dogane e Monopoli di Stato, are also tasked to monitor money laundering and prevent corruption.