EGBA: despite the progress some countries are ‘very much out of step’

Europe, EU

The European Gaming and Betting Association has voiced encouragement at the continent’s multi-licensing uptake, but has also issued fresh warnings to those “still very much out of step with the rest of Europe”.

With new analysis by the Brussels-based trade association finding that 25 out of 29 European countries have introduced a multi-licensing mode, the EGBA has again cautioned on the “ineffective” nature of gambling monopolies.

It says that the former, which allows both private and publicly owned companies to obtain a license to offer online gambling in a country, has become Europe’s “clear and preferred basis” for regulation, with the latter narrowing choice and heightening the attractiveness of unlicensed offerings.

“It’s encouraging that the majority of European countries have now moved towards multi-licensing regulation for all online gambling products in recognition that it is by far the most effective model for regulating online gambling,” noted Maarten Haijer, secretary general of the EGBA.

“Despite this progress, it’s notable that some countries, particularly Finland and Norway, are still very much out of step with the rest of Europe and continue to cling to outdated online gambling monopolies”

The analysis found that Finland and Norway are the only countries which still retain an exclusive state-owned monopoly for all online gambling, with four countries having a mixed licensing system with a monopoly for either sports betting (Hungary and Slovenia) or casino gaming and poker (Austria and Poland), and multi-licensing for all other online gambling products.

Ireland is expected to introduce multi-licensing for online gambling in 2021/22, Cyprus (casino gaming and poker) and France (casino gaming) both impose product prohibitions in online gambling, and Luxembourg currently has no specific licensing regulations for online gambling

“Evidence shows us that online gambling monopolies are ineffective and, by narrowing consumer choice, they make unlicensed websites more attractive,” Haijer continued

“Unlike monopolies, the benefits of full multi-licensing are very clear: better protection for consumers, more tax revenues for the state, and better control for regulators over their online gambling markets. The majority of European countries have already realised this – when will the others?” 

In 2009, only seven countries, namely Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Malta, and the UK, had a multi-licensing regulation for online gambling.