Online Gambling In The EU; Where One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Posted: December 9, 2014
Updated: October 6, 2017
The EU marketplace is 500 million people strong but they’re separated by 24 different languages,
11 different currencies and a cultural individuality that makes Texans look timid
In theory the EU should provide any company licensed by a member state access to all 500 million
citizens. The Treaty on European Union is quite specific on the matter. However the harmonization of
European country’s regulations has not so much progressed as oozed, and the online gaming industry is
just one of the many points of contention between individual member states and each other, individual
member states and the central European bureaucracy, and indeed individual states and themselves.
The complexity of the jurisdictional issues and needlessly convoluted various tax regulations imposed
at either level mean that in practice operating EU-wide is beyond the scope of most bookmakers.
There are 28 separate countries in the EU, the vast majority speaking a different language and sharing
with their neighbors only those parts of history that involve death on an unacceptable scale. Providing
equality of service to such a hydra-like market is a multifaceted enterprise of massive scope.
Service Provision Problems
• 28 nations with 24 official languages
• 11 different currencies
• EU poker rooms pooled by nation
Industry leading online casinos in the EU attempt to provide as much as possible to as many as possible and necessarily their presence on the web now dwarfs the early gambling sites of but a decade ago as players are no longer satisfied with service alone. The facility to wager online is simple enough
to provide, but this range of different cultures and backgrounds brought together means that to stay
competitive in the market your provision of service takes on the same multidimensional aspect.
National stereotypes are often used as a source of humor in Europe with some very well known and
not without a little truth to them. The basis of many is the tastes and habits of a particular populous
(typically exaggerated for purposes of levity) but the underlying reality is perfectly true, the citizens of
say Denmark and Italy are very different peoples with different outlooks, attitudes and preferences, and
that’s before we get to language, cultural history or gambling desires.
There are 28 nations in the EU and 24 official languages, there is no agreed upon lingua-franca across
the Eurozone, and so it is that those wishing to provide facility for people to enjoy internet betting in the EU, tend to have to do so in multiple languages. This obviously will require a translation of each
page of the site, perhaps framed in a different manner more familiar or acceptable to the target nation
than the original, but it goes far beyond just running a few html files through google translate.
Customer support for foreign players likewise requires staffing of centers and offices with people
able to communicate in a number of languages (as many as possible) with some of the larger online
gambling sites in the EU providing country specific support staff operating either from the home
offices or those within the nation itself (where possible, legal and cost effective). This is a significant
expenditure by companies but pays off as they gain and retain loyal customers in foreign climes.
As the market gains more players, on both sides of the supply/demand divide, so the requirement to
increase the quality of service gains momentum and familiarity of assistance is key to this. Linguistic
ease is the start, the next stage is to offer support and technical assistance in whichever language is
required by the player with an issue to be resolved. Sites hang on their reputations with reviews on the
net circulating freely almost daily making individual experiences one of the keys to market position.
However it is not just the language and tastes of each specific nation that service providers must keep
in mind, there is also the issue of currency. Whilst in theory all European nations would use the Euro as
legal tender, in practice only 18 of the 28 nations have actually signed up to this centrally administered
currency. This means whilst many of the European players will be paying in Euros, not all of them will
be and facility must be made, where possible to cater for them, with ease and security ever paramount.
Remote Providers Prohibited In Some Nations
Of course some nations in Europe are a little touchy about the transfer of funds beyond their borders,
especially if it appears someone is paying it out to an entity that isn’t paying due tax upon it, or indeed
any tax upon it. This is just one of the many issues that beset the European online gaming industry
as individual member states cling to their own gambling laws and regulations. This means that any
provider not only has to do so in multiple languages, but in multiple jurisdictions as well.
Certainly the European ideal would have a complete harmonization, and possibly liberalization, of the
gambling markets across the continent, however in practice this has met with lethargy and opposition
which means there is a whole raft of laws and regulations that a site must adhere to in order to operate
as a remote (foreign) provider. Some nations even prohibit online gambling entirely with some
countries even blocking sites within their borders, typically to protect their own state run gambling
The technical hurdles aside, and they themselves are not inconsiderable, the provision of a superior
service to peoples as diverse as the various populations of Europe is dependent on an understanding of
the regional nature of the markets involved. This places great pressure on management teams who have
to juggle all the myriad of differences and similarities to provide cost effective service provision at a
profit, a trick that is, as you might imagine, far more easily said in a presentation than done in practice.
The European Union is still a relatively young entity, with its predecessor the Common Market not
having given it the easiest of births. The marketplace it represents is likewise quite a new addition
to the online gambling world and whilst as yet there are no uniform EU gambling laws it is simply
a matter of time before market necessity and economic fortunes bring them about regardless of the
populist politicians who treat any aspect of the European dream as a suspect nightmare.