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If you’ve been an avid reader of NetEnt Casino over the past few weeks and months, it’s likely that you’ll have stumbled across a few articles noting how some European countries are attempting to change their gambling regulations. Whether it’s positive or negative changes depends on the regions themselves, but there has been a lot of movement within the past few months, and this got us thinking – just what is the current state of EU gaming licenses?
Of course, we understand that a lot of our readers are residents of the UK – a country that has embraced online gambling and its benefits rather than turn its back. However, we know that many other nationalities also log on to Netent Casino for their daily fix of the best casino bonuses and news from around the world.
So, we decided to do a little digging to compare and contrast the vastly differing views that certain EU countries have regarding our beloved online gaming entertainment. Here’s what we found.
Many EU countries have gaming licenses in place, but there are many differences between them. Certain regions have wide-ranging, in-depth legislation that has been around for several years now and pretty much covers everything, whereas other regulations are in their infancy and authorities are playing catch-up.
It’s quite a difficult situation to understand, as there’s a constant battle between adhering to EU laws while satisfying the needs of each and every government. As can be seen on the European Commission’s website, “there is no sector-specific EU legislation for gambling services”, yet it is also stated that “operators licensed in one or more EU countries can offer gambling services in other countries without the authorisation normally required”.
So, what are some of the countries that offer licenses?
The UK Gambling Commission was established as part of the government’s Gambling Act 2005, with the organisation’s purpose being to oversee the vast majority of betting across the United Kingdom. Since 2014, the country became a regulated market which ensured that any online casino who wished to host UK players would need to acquire a license. Prior to this, any other EU member state license was acceptable.
It is one of the strongest gaming licenses that an online casino operator can hold, with rigorous checks and procedures in place to guarantee a level playing field.
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Next up is Malta – the small Mediterranean island that has become something of an iGaming hub in recent years due to the sheer number of online casino-interested companies situated there. After being set up in 2001, it’s one of the oldest gaming licenses that an online casino can acquire too, and it’s widely-respected across the industry. Expect many of the big-hitters to have one.
We mentioned earlier about the EC noting that one EU gaming license can often be used to attract players from other countries, and the Maltese Gaming Authority’s certification embodies that concept.
Unfortunately, not every country has made online gaming licenses easy. There’s surely no better example than Germany, who only decided to regulate the industry after a ruling from the European Court of Justice. What followed was a one-state system based in Schleswig-Holstein, although doubt was cast on whether this could be extended to the rest of the country.
The current gambling licensing situation in Germany is being driven by a new State Treaty on Gambling bill which would lift any caps on the number of certifications issued. Whether or not it passes into law, though, remains to be seen.
In a similar manner to the UK, Spain requires anyone conducting business to be licensed. This policy came into force during 2012, but it’s only recently (around the 2015 mark) that the market has really begun to grow and spread its wings.
Online slots were added at a later date, but they’ve since become a key part of Spain’s online gambling spurt. Casino activity in general has been heralded as the region’s success story, after poker revenues haven’t been anywhere near as popular after the initial buzz wore off.
While the above countries have implemented a regulated online casino market of some sorts (despite the varying levels of success), there are others that are only just getting to the whole concept.
As the EU’s guidelines have suggested that any player situated within the bloc can gamble at a website that has a license from another member state, there has been a rush from some to bypass this in favour of a system that sees tax heading the government’s way.
A country that has recently seen some movement towards online gambling (re)regulation is Sweden – bringing to an end the monopoly held by Svenska Spel since 1997. You can find a complete overview of Sweden’s Gambling Authority’s report advocating for a new system here, with pro-online gaming enthusiasts looking forward to a future of competition in the Nordic country.
What’s more, the general reaction from online casino operators has been positive, although there are a few potential sticking points that need to be overcome once actual legislation is drafted. It is estimated that regulated gambling in Sweden is around 77% at this moment in time, with the government looking to raise this closer to 90% using these potential new laws.
Another region looking to do the same is the Netherlands – although they’ve been far more aggressive in dealing with foreign-based operators. They deem any online gambling website with the .nl domain to be illegal for their residents, with little wriggle-room until they introduce their new license.
The Dutch Remote Gambling Act will look to enforce this, although it’s been an incredibly frustrating past few years for Dutch players due to laws being delayed and progress being slow.
*UPDATE* – The Remote Gambling Bill is set to be discussed at the Gaming in Holland conference in mid-June.
One strange aspect regarding the Netherlands’ approach is the fact that one of their overseas territories, Curacao, has a casino licensing system of its own. Sure, it’s not quite as acclaimed as others and is, of course, outside of the EU, but it’s one of the oldest-running certifications around with issues beginning in 1996.
Before we leave you, we should note that online gaming licenses extend beyond just the casinos themselves, with game developers needing the essential credentials. As these companies are responsible for fair entertainment, you’ll want to guarantee nothing sinister is on the cards when playing any casino title – be it a slot, classic table game or whatever.
With NetEnt, you don’t have to worry. They have 8 different casino game licenses from across the EU plus one from New Jersey, with the Swedish games designer being well-known as one of the most genuine in the industry. If you see NetEnt flash up when firing up your favourite titles, you know you’re in for a fun, frenetic and fair ride.