Online Gambling Regulation in Europe

European Union regulations mandate a uniform flow of services and good throughout member states. Many believe that the mandate should include a legal and regulated online gaming industry in the EU but unfortunately this is not the case. The European Commission has been trying to establish an online gaming regime among member nations but has not had much success. At the present time individual EU nations have their own positions on internet gaming. In 2005 the United Kingdom was the first country to establish a taxed and regulated internet gaming industry. The UK Gambling Commission was established to regulate online gambling and so far the move has been a big success.

Shortly after the establishment of the Gambling Commission the UK created a ‘white list’ of online gambling jurisdictions. Up to now online bingo sites and casinos located in these licensing jurisdictions have been allowed to advertise their services in the UK and solicit business from British players. These offshore operators pay lower tax rates but this is about to change. Recently the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the UK government will implement a ‘point of consumption’ tax. This means that every online gambling transaction that takes place in the UK will be subject to taxation.  The government hopes to level the playing field for gaming sites licensed and located in the UK.

In 2009 Italy became the first European mainland country to establish a legal and regulated online gambling regime. The first games introduced were online bingo, poker tournaments, skill games and fixed odds sports betting. The move was a success and in 2011 the Italian government introduced cash online poker games and online casino gambling. Industry observers expect the turnover of internet gambling to double in 2012. Italy only permits operators that have been licensed by the country’s regulatory body AAMS. The Italian government is also trying to block unlicensed offshore gaming sites.

In 2010 France established the country’s first online gaming regulations. Private operators were allowed to offer games after getting a license from ARJEL, France’s regulatory body. For now online gaming in France is limited to sports betting, horse racing and poker. Spain was the next country to legalize online gambling. Currently Spanish online gaming companies are trying to keep foreign competition out. Online bingo has been a big hit in some parts of Spain. For now it looks like the European Commission will have its hands full trying to establish an EU wide regulatory regime for online gambling.

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