Europe is among the leading gambling regions, with many states having fully-regulated gambling industries. Most countries are continually amending their laws to accommodate online gambling and share significant revenue. Others are adding restrictions to discourage gambling or help curb problem gambling. This includes new bans on sponsorships by gambling operators, regulated advertising, and restricted casino bonuses, among other measures. Below is an overview of the top regulated online casino markets in Europe.
Spain is considered the most regulated online casino market in Europe and recently launched new laws to govern the gambling industry. It is one of the largest individual markets globally and has a fully-regulated sector where designated bodies govern all forms of online gambling. This implies online operators must obtain a valid gambling license. Spain also accommodates foreign operators. Although the current market is highly regulated, Spain did not have a regulated online gambling scene until 2015, when new laws legalized and decreed the gambling regulations.
Spain's gambling license
Spain was one of the first European countries to push for the legalization of online gambling, explaining its large market. This dream became a reality when, in early 2015, new legislations legalized all forms of online gambling. Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) or Directorate-General for the Regulation of Gambling, is the main regulatory body tasked with overseeing Spanish online casinos. As such, all local operators are required to obtain a valid license from DGOJ. The process involves standard checks, like operator history and list executives. Advertising is also strictly monitored.
Player protection in Spain
Spain punters have access to one of the best complaint submission systems. All casinos and gambling operators must provide enough player protection measures, and DGOJ takes player complaints and reviews seriously. Some licenses have been pulled because of players' complaints, which show the regulatory body values player satisfaction and safety. The goal is to ensure confidential player information, including logins and financial details, are kept safe. With that said, several legitimate, regulated gambling operators provide a high level of protection.
Spain's gambling taxation
Spain imposes steep taxation requirements on operators, which is always a concern for those interested in offering gambling products to punters in the region. Currently, all operators are taxed at 25%, which is enough to keep operators in small countries. Fortunately, Spain boasts one of Europe's largest markets, which justifies the high taxation rates. Punters are also expected to declare what they win from gambling for taxation, which is 20% of the gross gaming revenue. Bingo and electronic bingo pay taxes of 15% and 30%, respectively. You can calculate the gross income by subtracting the money your bet from what you have won.
Italy is one of the European countries with a significant influence on modern gambling. The state published laws that legalized online gambling in 2011. However, gambling has been part of Italy for several decades, dating back to the Roman Empire, with the first casino opening in 1638. In 2009, the European Commission forced Italy to open doors to offshore operators, which led to further regulation of the sector. Today, punters have access to several legitimate gambling products, both online and offline.
Italy's gambling license
Before 2009, the state issued Italian gambling licenses to local operators only. However, after claims led to sanctions by the EU, Italy finally allowed offshore jurisdictions to offer gambling products to its market. The details were published in the 2009 Abrizzo Decree. Italy has the second-largest gambling market in Europe, so operators don't mind the strict financial, technical, and social requirements imposed by regulatory. All online operators must obtain a valid gambling license from AAMS (Amministrazione Autonoma del dei Monopoli di Stado Stato). Operators must also complete the authorization process facilitated by an AAMS-accredited certification body.
Player protection in Italy
Italy has strict rules that all casino operators must adhere. This includes purchasing all valid gambling licenses, renewing them on time, completing authorization, auditing all games for fair results, and deploying adequate player protection measures. Legitimate online casinos use advanced SSL certificates, 24-hour virus scans, one-time passwords (OTP), double verification, secure payment methods, and seamless support channels. Operators are also expected to pay all winners on time. Casinos that fail to abide by the rules and standards will be fined or have their licenses pulled.
Italy's gambling taxation
The Italian government taxes gambling winnings above €500, and residents are expected to declare all gambling income in their annual return. As the second-largest gambling market, the government is keen to tax all gambling income, both for punters and operators. The tax is 6% for net income (what you win minus what you stake/bet) above €500, although it is poised for a rise to 10% in the coming months. Lottery winnings are also taxed at a 6% rate, which might change to 8% when the government adjusts taxes. This shouldn't be a concern if you play from abroad.
Other highly regulated regions
Online gambling has dominated the global gambling market year after year and continues to lead in Europe. The UK, Italy, and Spain are the most engaged gambling markets, but Germany, Denmark, and France have also reported tremendous growth in the sector. The EU has an average growth rate of 10% per year, and Great Britain's bet365 gambling platform dominates in most regions. The EU also has several regulatory bodies with jurisdictions in different countries. This includes Malta Gambling Commission, Alderney Gaming Control Commission, UK Gambling Commission, Great Britain Gambling Commission, and more.
The European gambling market leads the globe with rapid growth in most countries. Many governments have gone from outlawing gambling to passing laws to govern a highly regulated industry. Punters in the UK, Italy, Spain, France, Denmark, and Germany already play online casinos regularly. Other regions are also opening doors to offshore gambling products, setting the market for increased regulation. With taxable revenue at stake, all governments will be keen to regulate operators and gambling standards.