European gambling market has seen a major overhaul on the most important markets in the past several years.
Countries have either stepped up their efforts to protect the gamblers the best way they can, or some have outright used their powers to lock the market and stop online gambling.
In many situations, this was due to repeated reports of punters not being able to control their gaming addictions which has created a call to action by the public.
Biggest movers in recent years have been Sweden and the United Kingdom. Both have tried to influence behavior of operators in relation to problem gamblers by setting up various rules and systems. Spain has also tightened the grip.
Germany has finally managed to unite its 16 Bundeslaender to come up with a joint pact on how to regulate the online gambling market after years of being in the grey zone.
Situation has also changed due to the recent outbreak which has forced players to stay at home. Many are worried this will result in spike of gambling by the general population.
Hence, many have to start to call for additional measures which will further complicate the regulatory landscape in Europe. Let’s review some of the recent moves and planned changes by the European gambling authorities.
United Kingdom Gambling Commission has been pretty busy developing new ways to protect players from predatory practices.
It has not been limiting the deposit amounts, however, it has rolled out an extensive set of rules which describe the identification of problem gamblers.
It has also focused on KYC procedures and deeper inspection of customers’ sources of funds, especially trying to reduce the use of credit facilities in gambling.
It has also focused on commercial practices involving advertisements and bonus schemes. New rules make it obligatory to highlight terms and conditions for promotions to customers directly.
It’s important for players to understand how much money they can recover by winning beforehand.
Recently there has been a call of several MPs from the Parliament to the gaming companies directly involving reduction of daily betting limits to £50 in order to prevent damage in the time of lockdown.
However, there are no confirmations that this will be made into a temporary law.
Swedish regulator Spelinspektionen has been much stricter, by directly determining the amounts players can deposit and wager. The goal of such measures was to directly influence availability of gambling to players in Sweden.
These rules were obligatory to all online casinos regulated by the Spelinspektionen. Further tax changes that have submitted operators to the Swedish tax regime have further dented the operating profits.
An unfortunate side-effect of this was growth in the black market casinos in Sweden. It is estimated that unlicensed casinos service about 30% of the market meanwhile.
Recently, there has been chatter that the Spelinspektionen is even thinking of completely shutting down online casino in the country or introducing some new rules. This might cause further expansion of unlicensed providers in the country.
Finland so far does not seem to plan to do major changes. In 2019 there were some moves by the public to influence policy makers to tighten the rules, but they have not been successful.
Local monopoly, Veikkaus is revamping its operations, especially when it comes to slot machines that they run across the country. They, however, do want to keep operating online slots.
End of February Spain introduced a new framework to gain more control over their gambling market. The measures have seen severe restrictions to online gambling advertisement.
Operators were allowed to use TV and radio to promote their brands only from 1 AM to 5 AM. New rules also planned the introduction of a ban on using public figures in ads.
Fast-forward to April, due to the situation Europe is facing, Spain has effectively decided to stop any advertisement on its territory. This is so far the most severe measure any regulator is taking.
In case others follow its suite, this could spell huge problems in the online gaming sector, which was already hit hard by the lack of sports events – effectively collapsing the betting market.
2020 isn’t half over yet and it is in many ways one of the most memorable years ever. True, many would like to forget it as soon as possible. There is fear that new measures introduced by the gambling authorities will bring the sector to its knees in this worst of times.