Gambling laws in Europe vary significantly from one country to another, reflecting different attitudes towards gambling and its regulation. While some European countries have legalized all forms of gambling, others have banned certain types of gambling or heavily restricted them.
In general, European Union (EU) member states are responsible for regulating gambling within their borders. However, countries are required to comply with the fundamental freedoms and general provisions as established under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) while regulating gambling operations within their borders.
Some European countries have particularly liberal gambling laws. For example, the United Kingdom (which until recently was part of EU) has a well-developed and regulated gambling industry that includes online casinos, sports betting, and lotteries. In contrast, other countries, such as Norway and Sweden, have strict controls on gambling and only allow state-owned companies to offer certain types of games.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission is one of the active oversight bodies cross the world. All kinds of gaming for stakes, namely poker, bingo, sports betting, and other popular casino games fall within the jurisdiction of the Commission.
In some countries, such as Germany, gambling is regulated at the state level, leading to differences in the types of games and rules across different regions. The new Interstate Treaty on Gambling 2021, which came into force on 1 July 2021, distinguishes between online casino games and virtual slot games and it gives each state the choice of whether to impose a state monopoly or issue a very limited number of licenses to private operators.
In other countries, such as France, three types of licenses for the three forms of online gambling activities can be issued: online sports betting (live betting, pool betting and fixed odds betting); online horse race betting (pool betting); and online poker game.
In Belgium, all kinds of betting online and offline requires a license and licenses are issued based on a closed number per category. Online license can be obtained by entities that are already in possession of a offline license.
Overall, while there are some common principles and rules across Europe when it comes to gambling, the specific laws and regulations vary widely. As such, it is important for anyone interested in gambling business in Europe to study the laws in their specific country or region.