Online gambling thrives in the EU, indeed it is one of the fastest growing sectors of the shared
economy, but it isn\’t all plain sailing for gamblers or those that provide services to them
The European Union, or EU, is now a 28 country strong political and economic union that spans
1.6 million square miles and contains, at present, some 507 million people. Governing through
supranational institutions and intergovernmental agreements the actual European Parliament is elected
once every five years and was born out of the organizations set up at the end of World War II to unify
the nations of Europe in an attempt to make war unthinkable and materially impossible.
The European Coal & Steel community gave way to the European Economic Community in the fifties
and successive organizations have continued the same efforts towards the unification of a disparate
group of nations that has grown substantially from it\’s six nation origins. In 1993 the Maastricht Treaty
created citizenship of the EU and the subsequent Treaty of Lisbon introduced a bill of rights, including
the right for nations to leave the EU if they so choose.
Internet Gambling In The EU
• Gaining popularity year on year
• Revenues to top 13 billion Euros in 2015
• National differences create issues
Theoretically a free market exists within the EU between member states but the opening up of
protected markets has been slow and some remain closed to foreign businesses or operate under local
restrictive regulation. The various nations have very different attitudes to gambling, and those are
reflected in their national gambling laws, which supersede EU gambling laws. Thus online service
providers might in theory have access to the huge market potential of the EU, in practice that isn\’t
entirely the case.
Consumers too may find themselves in a nation where the typical tussle of local party politics has
thrown up barriers to gambling or accessing online casinos in the EU despite being residents of a nation
that is part of the EU. The process of harmonizing markets across the EU is ongoing and likely to be a
lengthy one, but the die is cast and it is only a matter of time before what took off in the mid-nineties
comes home to roost in the 21st century.
The technological leap forward that the internet provided allowed a whole host of new activities to be
facilitated and it wasn\’t just the computer game freaks that found something to do online. The provision
of the first sportsbooks and gaming sites kick started a wave of developments in which demand led
technology to develop at an accelerated rate and competition kept the fickle consumer at the center of
design. The giants of the business today that operate throughout those nations in the EU that permit
them to do so have grown the industry since these beginnings into an expansive business with massive
One of the fundamental issues with online gambling in the EU is the interface between the community
members and the central European bureaucracy and then its somewhat jaundiced relationship with the
internet and the technology that drives it. Each member state has its own gambling laws and regulations
which means providers of say an EU poker room must adhere to those in order to operate in that
nation, and given some of those requirements can be quite stringent can create legal problems for both
players and providers. The range of attitudes is remarkable, although perhaps not when you consider
the EU has 24 official languages.
The complexity of the EU\’s various legal jurisdictions are not, however, the only challenge to a market
whose members only share history that tends to involve killing each other. Cultural differences are
huge from north to south and east to west, living standards are by no means even and the banking crisis
left many nations within the EU cobbling together “austerity” budgets to cut back on expenditure and
tighten their belts. Providers have to do more than just provide translation and with customer demand
leading the way customer service in a familiar language is right behind it.
Whilst the cultural familiarity of a site might make a player choose it over a rival in a straight contest
twixt the two, the major factor in a gamblers choice of site providing internet betting in the EU will
be the accessibility of payment, and the ease with which he or she can transfer monies to and, with any
luck, from their chosen site. There are various standard methods of payment available on most sites
with the best of them offering an all-encompassing range of options that cater to players both inside the
EU and much, much further afield.
With national governments policies still trumping those of the central European Union, particularly
the lackluster observance of Article 49 of the Treaty On European Union that stipulates markets,
particularly service markets, should be open to all companies licensed to operate in any of the other
countries. Sadly this doesn\’t reflect reality and despite the efforts of the European Gaming & Betting
Commission the full and open market envisioned in the treaty is still a long way off, with any change
likely to be slow in coming, letting the law once again lag behind the demands of consumers on the
As with every other internet facility security has become a major issue for all concerned in the online
gambling business. A sites reputation can be sullied by even the slightest slip in security. The public
are constantly warned of the dangers by an old school media that loathes the competition, and the
introduction of PayPal has done much to remove the danger from all but the most haphazard of internet
users. As an industry the online gambling world has done much to counter the rather inflated sense of
mistrust the public have in transactions of that type.
It is reasonably forecast that the revenues from online gambling in 2015 will reach 13 billion Euros and
take a growing 15% of the overall gambling market within the EU. These figures are up considerably
year on year and demonstrate a sustained growth that will only be increased as more nations chase
the revenues from gambling rather than merely attempting to prohibit it and failing to do so. Mobile casinos are the trend today but the future is likely to bring in more technology to provide an ever easier
service that conforms to the desires of the public at the time.