The iGaming industry has significantly grown in a global scale over the last decade, with more and more players turning away from retail casinos and betting shops to online gambling operators offering them various gaming options. Recently, the trend has conquered a large number of markets around the globe and more specifically, in Europe. Moreover, it brought the need for some amendments to be made in terms of the online gambling legislation in order for the latter to be more up-to-date to the market conditions of each country individually.
In addition, new iGaming legislation would make sure that fairness and transparency is guaranteed, especially in terms of competition. The constantly increasing market share of iGaming operations is also considered dangerous to certain groups of people, so gambling legislation amendments are also necessary in order for Governments to guarantee that customers’ protection is put first.
Other market conditions, such as potential for added tax revenue, gaming and betting monopoles, have also had their footprint on the look of European countries’ online gambling legislation look. Also, the pressure from the competent European Union authorities has recently increased, which urged a lot of EU member countries to take some steps towards regulating their online gambling markets, or bring in some amendments into their currently existing legislation and regulatory frameworks.
2017 has been a pretty eventful year so far, as several European countries have seen some changes made in their online gambling legislation, or have introduced such legislation for the first time ever.
Latest Online Gambling Legislation Changes in Europe
The country has been forging its online gambling legislation for years. Finally, in the middle of 2017, an iGaming bill was finally passed by the Dutch Lower House. Later, it passed a Senate vote and was given the necessary support in order to be turned into law which regulates the local online gambling market.
The Netherlands has been found as one of the most attractive iGaming hubs for online gambling operators thanks to the fact that these type of casino, gaming and betting activities have significantly increased their popularity among local players. However, under the new regulations introduced by the country, iGaming operators would no longer be allowed to provide their services without a license issued by the country’s Gaming Authority, Kansspelautoriteit.
The new legislation came into effect on June 1st. However, its recent introduction has unfortunately pushed a lot of operators to leave the local online gaming market. The Kansspelautoriteit’s announcement that the Authority would make online gaming regulatory regime even tighter was not expected and made some operators simply leave the local market.
For many years, Poland players have had the chance to reach the services of various online gambling operators. If we have to put this in other words, access to the Internet has also given Polish players the opportunity to reach a great number of betting and gaming options. Normally, the increasing interest of local players towards iGaming options has created a need for adequate regulation.
The new gambling regulatory framework of Poland came into effect on April 1st, 2017, enforcing new tax regime and tighter regulations. The latter have been blamed for making the market conditions almost unbearable for operators to survive.
Now, Poland is considered as one of the countries which failed to find the right balance and make the its online gaming environment equally favourable to all companies operating there. At the end of April 2017, the country expanded its online gambling blacklist, adding more companies to the ranks of the operators that have been considered as unacceptable to operate in the local iGaming sector. As a result, a number of operators have chosen to leave the newly-regulated market of Poland that is currently being regulated by the Polish Gaming Act.
The Czech Republic
As one of the latest countries that had their gambling and betting market regulated. The country put its new Gambling Act into effect on January 1st, 2017. The piece of legislation is aimed at allowing foreign operators based in countries from the European Union or the European Economic Area to legally provide almost every form of gambling activities to local customers under a special gaming license issued by the competent authorities.
At first, the new Gambling Act of the Czech Republic was promoted as a piece of legislation that put financial fairness in as one of the most important principles, but certain bookmakers blamed the country for imposing too harsh and unfavourable conditions to foreign operators. The new gambling legislation of the Czech Republic also became the reason why some of the largest global bookmakers such as William Hill and the GVC Holdings brands decided to cease their operations in the country and no longer provide local customers with their products, even though some of them have hinted of future operating license application.
Under the newly-implemented regulations of the Czech Republic’s gambling market, online gaming taxes amount to 35% of the gross gaming revenue (GGR) of slot machines operators and 23% of the gross gaming revenue of sports betting operators.
The country has also blacklisted a number of casino, gaming and betting websites, with their number rising. Still, some local players have found a way to avoid restrictions and still place bets on unlicensed, hence illegal, websites.
The constantly increasing users’ interest towards online gambling activities over the last decade and a half has pushed a lot of countries to become more focused on implementing adequate legislative and regulatory framework in terms of online gambling. Some of them prefer to restrict the number of foreign operators who can run their offering there, others are more liberal, but gambling legislation around Europe is a matter of great interest for experts and analysts.
A lot of other countries are also working towards the implementation of certain changes in their legislation in order to become more flexible and adequately face the needs of thousands of players who prefer to place their bets online.