Is online gambling legal in Europe?

is online gambling legal in europe

Is online gambling legal in Europe?

European countries have their own national gambling and license regimes and can regulate online gambling autonomously as long as they comply with TFEU. Online gambling in Europe is legal depending on the country you reside.

is online gambling legal in europe

The European Commission or any other European institution have not passed any legislation when it comes to online gambling. The online gambling industry doesn’t seem to be European Commission’s priority. This means that every country in Europe can have its own national license regime so they can have their own provision for gambling in general. But they all need to comply with Responsible Gambling Measures.

So let’s set an example. A casino website can provide online gambling services in a European country by acquiring the country’s gambling licence. Now, the requirements and the cost of each licence may differ from country to country. Simple right?

Now, in European countries, 3 systems going on. First, we have the multi-license regime: For example. An online casino named A goes to a European country and applies for a License that will allow it to provide online gambling services in this country. It gets it and everything works fine.

Secondly, we have a mixed licensing system. Here we have a European country that has a monopolistic system in casino gaming or poker or sports betting but a multi-licensing system for all the other gambling products.

Last, we have a state-owned Monopoly system for every gambling product. This means in the free trade of the European country one or two state-owned casinos or online casinos are in charge of gambling services.

Online gambling licensing systems in Europe

With the enormous analysis by EGBA (European Gaming and betting association), it has concluded that the Multi-Licensing system is used by 25 out of 29 European countries. 21 of them already use the full multi-licensing system for all gambling products.

4 European countries have a mixed-licensing system. These are: Austria, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia.

2 European countries have a State-owned monopoly system. These are: Finland and Norway(belonging to ‘’EEA’’ European Economic Area)

Now, let me tell you something more. In some countries, casinos need to acquire different Licenses for different types of gambling products. For example: A casino in a European country can acquire a license for casino products and a second license for sports betting products.

Players and online casinos in Europe

So here is something we get a lot. Sometimes players are not satisfied with particular online casinos that provide online gambling in their jurisdiction. Therefore, citizens from a European country may register and play at international online casinos that hold other European Licences. It is unorthodox to say that this is prohibited since this is called Grey Market, which is not recognized as an official market but again it’s not recognized as illegal as well. Some countries may create a blacklist platform gathering information about online casinos that are not licensed by the national authority and list them on the blacklist, prohibiting players to enter the websites. Even though this practice was seen in Greece, we aren’t sure if it has positive effects.

It has been a law that was published by Norway which prohibited Norwegian citizens to play in any online casino located outside of their jurisdiction. Even though the law was uncommonly harsh, it was never put into effect. Honestly, from my point of view, it would be berserk if a provision like the aforementioned could lead a citizen to a court having to defend himself for choosing an international casino in a supposedly free market.

In a nutshell

In the European gambling market, countries can apply their national provisions about gambling. Of course, these provisions need to comply with European Law. The use and cross-border Online Gambling services fall into the category of the fundamental freedoms of TFEU. European countries may restrict cross-border services of online gambling services for particular reasons. These may be: Protection of public interest, Fraud Protection, etc. But countries that apply these restrictions need to have increased reasons to justify the aforementioned restrictions.


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Frequently asked Questions

In July of 2021, the Interstate Treaty came into force. The Treaty categorizes online casino games and virtual slot games. Online gambling is allowed and it gives the chance to a state to choose between two options: Monopoly or limited licenses to private operators. Until now we are not aware of any foreign gambling operator that acquired the german license.

Online casinos cannot operate in Canada without a license if based within Canada. This means that the government of Canada doesn’t issue any gambling licenses, so the only option for Canadians is to play overseas at foreign online casinos.
Canadian players are free to play at foreign online casinos. To be more specific, the Canadian criminal law doesn’t contain any provision about playing at online casinos.

In the United States, the gambling industry is focused on land-based casinos rather than online casinos. Under the Wire Act, online gambling is considered illegal. American citizens can’t play at foreign online casinos due to restrictions applied from both sides. Most foreign online casinos don’t accept the USA and the Department of Justice of the U.S. made it clear through the Unlawful gambling enforcement act that it’s illegal for operators to accept payments in connection with online gambling. These types of financial transactions are regulated and prohibited by payment providers located in the U.S.

Until now there are some states that allow 3 types of online gambling. Sports betting, online poker, and online casinos.

• Nevada. Players in Nevada can bet on sports online. 

• Pennsylvania. It allows all types of online gambling. Land-based casinos have created online casinos.

• Indiana. Sports betting is legal while the 2 other types of online gambling seem to be illegal for the time being.

• New Jersey. It’s the biggest online casino market in the USA. It allows all types of online gambling.

• Delaware: It allows all 3 types of online gambling. 

Things in the USA are complicated when it comes to online gambling due to the Interstate Wire of Act of 1961 that was put back in use in 2019 by the Department of Justice which didn’t stop states legislating online gambling. In the meantime players of the US can only play in licensed casinos based in the U.S and forbids foreign online casinos to accept players from us by creating the unlawful internet gambling enforcement act of 2006 where financial institutions have clear guidelines of not processing transactions to these gambling websites.

Vietnam. Citizens in Vietnam are not allowed to participate in any gambling activities since every type of gambling is considered illegal. 

United Arab Emirates (UAE).  Residents of the UAE are not allowed to gamble. Gambling is considered illegal and the law contains imprisonment in some cases. 

North Korea. Gambling in general is prohibited for citizens. There are two land-based casinos available for tourists exclusively. 

Qatar. All forms of gambling are illegal in Qatar. Residents are prohibited from participating in any form of gambling activity. 

Lebanon. Residents are not allowed to gamble, since gambling is considered illegal in all places except one. That’s the Casino du Liban. It’s the only casino available in Lebanon and it’s licensed by the government. 

Cambodia. Well, things turned upside down in 2009 slot machines were banned due to gambling-related debts and problem gambling. There are casinos located mostly in Sihanoukville but they are available for tourists. 

Pakistan. The Public Gaming Act of 1977 made it clear that gambling is illegal in Pakistan. Religion in Pakistan and in most countries in Asia doesn’t allow gambling and it’s considered a sin. Citizens in Pakistan are prohibited from gambling.