European Legislation on Gambling and Online Casinos


Governments of most European countries keep gambling business under strict control. In some countries, gambling games are banned by law. What are the main characteristics of the European gambling legislation?

European Legislation on Gambling and Online Casinos

Gambling: Authorized

Close attention of European governments to gambling games pursues important political, economic, and social goals, including: keeping gambling business and criminal world apart, protecting minors, reducing the number of ludomania addicts, providing secure and safe environment for players, and - of course – receiving taxes and other dues from casinos.

Among European countries, the Balkan states dominate the gambling scene. Montenegro has the largest number of casinos per capita: 1 casino per 1.3 citizens. The total number of casinos in Montenegro is more than 500. An absolute monopolist in the gambling business, the state regulates all issues related to organization and monitoring of gambling games.

Great Britain has about 1 casino per 7,000 people. This number can’t beat Montenegro but leaves behind most European countries. It was only in 2007 that the current law on gambling took effect. According to that law, the gambling business in Great Britain is regulated by Commission on gambling. The law sets the limit of 1 regional casino, 8 large casinos, and 8 small casinos in each region.

Gambling games are allowed in France as well. France is the country where the first Europe’s casino was opened. Here, gambling business is regulated with extreme rigor. There are several organizations that monitor all issues related to gambling business. The French legislation bans the military and uniformed state employees from visiting casinos.

In Portugal, you can gamble only in special gambling zones. The total number of zones is 10. Outside the gambling zones, you can play lotteries, Bingo, and even slots (slots can be found in the hotels, which are popular with tourists).

In Italy, all casinos are municipal, but they are regulated by local authorities, as well as private companies. Tax rates for casinos are set at the regional level. Some casinos pay their local authorities up to 70% of their gross income (for example, received from slots). Since recently, the Italian government authorized online casinos. Today, the total number of officially registered online casinos is over several hundred. At the same time, in Italy you won’t find roulette and slots with progressive jackpots: they are banned all over the country.

Gambling: Banned

There are few countries that ban gambling in all its forms. In most cases, limitations are imposed on certain gambling games or types.

You can’t play for real money in Vatican, Norway, San-Marino, Andorra, and the Greek part of Cyprus (but the Cyprus authorities are already considering to open casinos in order to save the economy). In Poland, Latvia, Sweden, and several more countries, gambling advertising and promotion are prohibited, while gambling per se is legal.

Recently, gambling was banned in Estonia. Greece and Lithuania refused from online gambling. In Czech Republic, you can play most online games, except for poker.

In Hungary, players can play at local online casinos only. Playing on foreign gambling websites is illegal. Moreover, Hungarian authorities made it impossible for Hungarians to withdraw winnings from offshore online gambling websites.