·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary


Online Gambling Regulation is Sweeping Through Europe in 2019

— August 21, 2019

European fans of online gambling will be pleased to know that 2019 is a year of big changes in regulations. These changes will open the market and make it even safer for players.

Europe as a whole is a very thriving online gambling market. The European Union does not pass any central legislation on gambling. It is up to the member states to create and regulate their own online gambling markets. 

This has led to the creation of a patchwork of laws across the different nations. But generally, the outlook towards online gambling is very positive and liberal. It is hard to find a nation that prohibits all forms of online gambling and most countries allow at least some form of betting. 

The legalization of online gambling in Europe has been occurring over the past two decades. Incremental progress has been made, with an increasing number of nations relaxing controls on online casinos and sportsbooks. 

How is this trend developing as we cross the first half of 2019? Perhaps a quick look at the recent changes in online gambling laws across Europe will give us an idea:

Sweden bats for improved regulations and licensing

Among the Nordic countries, Sweden stands out as one of the best licensed and regulated markets. In January 2019, the government improved the existing legislation to bring the online gambling industry under tighter controls. 

Under the new laws, online casino operators are required to get a license from the Swedish gambling authorities to continue their business in the country. These licenses don’t come cheap, costing up to EUR 78,000. 

The biggest changes will be felt in the casino bonuses section. No longer will online casinos be able to offer many bonuses with wagering requirements. The law restricts casinos to just a single welcome bonus. They can offer free spins, but with no strings attached. 

They also have pretty stringent provisions related to player protection, fair gaming, and online security. While not exactly great news for the casinos, the new regulations will allow Swedish players the opportunity to enjoy a better online gambling experience. In the long run, these changes will serve to strengthen the online gambling market in the country. 

The Czech Republic opens its borders to foreign operators

In a huge boost to the local market and players, the Czech government has finally decided to remove the restrictions placed on offshore casino operators. The country already has a huge appetite for land-based casinos and slot machines. 

Now with the radical restructuring of the laws, experts believe there is massive potential for growth in the Czech Republic for online casinos. The online market is still much smaller here than the land-based casinos, but that could change in the near future. 

According to the new rules, operators from other EU nations can apply for licensing and serve Czech players. The country already has very stringent measures in place to protect players and prevent problem gambling. Those provisions will be further enhanced as part of the 2019 law. 

Italy relaxes its stance on online gambling ads

Online casinos were dealt a severe blow in Italy in 2018 when the country promulgated a blanket ban on all forms of gambling advertisements. As per the original law, the following promotional methods were outlawed:

  • SMS promos
  • Online banners
  • Sponsorship of sports
  • Media Ads
  • Branded products
  • Social media influencers

But in a 2019 update from the telecom watchdog AGCOM, a few restrictions were slightly lifted or altered. Now, online casinos can reach out to their customers in the following ways:

  • Use indexing services for better SEO and higher page ranks
  • Promote charities and other positive initiatives (without brand logos or any gambling encouragements)
  • Affiliates in limited capacities (information only, no active marketing)

These steps offer some respite to both operators and players in Italy. A blanket ban would only have hurt the players more. Without proper ads directing them towards legal sites, they could easily end up at illegal online casinos.

Two red die with white dots; image by Jonathan Peterson, via
Two red die with white dots; image by Jonathan Peterson, via

Germany follows in the footsteps of the U.S. in sports betting

In a rare occurrence, the generally conservative United States has gained an advantage over their more liberal allies across the Atlantic. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme court effectively legalized sports betting across the nation. 

In the meantime, Germany passed the third State Treaty on Gambling in 2019. According to the new rules, operators can apply for sports betting licenses, which were not previously permitted. In Germany, all individual states follow the Treaty on Gambling, with the exception of Schleswig Holstein, which like Nevada has been allowed to have a more liberal regime. 

The new rules are a temporary measure valid until 2021, which is the planned year for full scale changes to gambling laws in Germany. In two years time, the country will format more liberal gambling laws, removing the limits on the number of licensed operators, and other reforms that bring the entire country more in line with Schleswig Holstein’s model of gambling regulation. 

The UK to continue increased scrutiny of the industry

Though potentially not in the EU for long, thanks to the Brexit mess, they are still one of the largest and best-regulated markets in the world for online betting. Any changes there can have huge repercussions in the industry as a whole. 

In the last few years, we have witnessed several crackdowns on gambling in the UK, with the Gambling Commission coming down on issues like player verification, bonuses, and wagering requirements. Controls have also been placed on gambling ads. 

Now parties are trying to push for new restrictions to help prevent gambling addiction and protect UK players from the harmful effects of unrestricted gambling. The proposals include a cap on the amount players can bet online, and measures to force casinos to perform “affordability checks” on new customers. 

What this means for gambling in the European Union

The bigger nations are all pushing for increased scrutiny and regulations on online gambling. Across the common market, the primary focus is on the protection of players. In restricted markets, there is a clear drive towards legalization, accompanied by better rules. NoDepositRewards is your go to place if you want to play at regulated no deposit casinos

Positive change is also underway in smaller countries like Belarus and Slovenia, where there are plans to remove existing restrictions. All this bodes well if you are a player residing in the European Union. Things were already tolerable, but they are about to get a whole lot better!

Join the conversation!