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Gambling regulations hit Europe hard

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In recent months the wave of change regarding the regulation of gambling across the EU has been increasing at a more rapid pace.

Although Europe or the EU is of talked about as one state or area of regulation, the truth is that each individual country across the EU still has control over the type and strictness of its own gambling regulation.

Rules which apply to both online and offline gambling activity are being introduced by EU member states to both regulate the market and ensure that the states take their fair share of the taxes generated.

Betpal the gambling expert looked through each country in turn too see what the current state of regulation is and what the near future holds for iGaming and gambling in each local.

Gambling Regulations in Italy 

Traditionally, Italy has always taken a more laid back approach to the regulation of gambling within its borders compared to its European neighbours. However, this has taken a turn towards increased regulations in recent years to fall in line with other western EU countries as we will see.

Italy had introduced legislation back in 2006 which allowed companies to provide sports betting services within retail locations and via the internet. This move came at a time when other member states were clamping down on online gaming.

This legislation was added to in 2011 so that licensees can provide poker and casino games to customers in addition to the sports betting. This gave Italians a wide choice of licenced online sites and retail locations where they could go and wager their cash on both slots and sports betting.

This update to the Italian gambling laws has allowed online gambling companies to tap into this highly lucrative market. There’s a population of over 60 million people in Italy, making it the third-largest population in the EU.

Another boon to the Italian gambling market is the fact that Italian players are not taxed on their winnings. It is instead the operators who shoulder any tax burden through taxes on revenues as well as licensing fees.

Despite the increase in access to online and physical gambling spaces in Italy, there has been a clampdown on the advertising of gambling. Italy’s advertising and communications regulator Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (AGCOM) has recently confirmed that direct and indirect advertising, sponsorship or promotional communications will all be banned across the country.

Gambling Regulations in Belgium  

Belgium has been among the toughest countries when it comes to the regulation of on and offline gambling. This has been highlighted recently with the decision from Nintendo not to release the iOS or Android version of Mario Kart Tour for download in the country.

The decision was taken as the game features the use of loot boxes when players are rewarded for their achievements in the app. Nintendo stated that the use of loot boxes does not comply with Belgian Gambling Authority regulations as they are seen to amount to gambling.

This is despite the fact that the feature in the game does not use any form of real-world currency. It just goes to highlight how tough the regulations are in Belgium!

This comes after the advertising of online casino games on television has been banned throughout Belgium as slots are seen as promoting gambling. Sports betting adverts are still allowed but are heavily restricted. Adverts for sportsbooks cannot be shown during live sports broadcasts though they are permitted before and during events.

Gambling Regulations in Sweden  

On New Year’s Day 2019, Sweden brought a new wave of laws which aimed to end the state-run online gambling company’s monopoly. The laws aimed to open up the market to private operators in the future and help to expand the gambling market in the country.

For many years the state-owned Svenska Spel was the only company permitted to offer online gambling to people in Sweden. This applied to all types of games, whether it be casino games, sports betting, or other forms of casino entertainment.

Despite the law, many gambling companies found a way around the regulations and by 2018 private companies had captured a 29% share of the Swedish gambling industry as a whole. At the time the country’s gambling industry was estimated to be worth a staggering $2.5 billion.

It is hoped that whilst the new regulations open up the Swedish market to new operators, it will also help to protect the public against any actions from the gambling companies. Regulation is certainly seen as the way forward in Sweden.

Gambling Regulations in the United Kingdom 

It’s no hidden fact that the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has been at the leading edge in gambling regulations within the EU. They have recently stated that UK gamblers spend £14.5 GBP per year and this figure is growing all the time.

One of the most controversial moves that they have pulled recently is to limit the amount that players can wager on fixed-odds betting terminals within bookmakers. Previously players could wager up to £100 per go at these terminals before the law change, it is now limited to a maximum of £2 per wager.

The move prompted William Hill, one of the largest companies in the country, to close an estimated 700 shops of their own. They sighted the loss of profits caused by this new regulation as the reason for the closures nationwide.

However, the government has argued that such easy access to high stakes gambling was leading to widespread social issues amongst some of the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society.

Many casinos and bookmakers, including some very big names, have been hit with large fines from the UKGC within the past few years. The regulator has taken steps against even the biggest names in the industry to stamp its authority on the market within the UK.

Perhaps most notable of the gambling companies sanctioned by the UK Gambling Commission is the Ladbrokes Coral Group. The commission ordered the operator to pay a whopping £5.9 million for previous failures to abide by anti-money laundering regulations. It has also called out the company for failing to protect problem gamblers at both firms after thorough investigations of the group.

It just goes to show that no entity is above the law when it comes to the highly regulated gambling market in the UK.

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