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Barriers for Machine Gambling Outside Casinos in EU


Prohibitions and restrictions

Certain Member States entirely prohibit machine gambling outside casinos (Cyprus, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal and Latvia).

A few Member States prohibit the location of gambling machines in particular types of premises (Lithuania, Latvia and the Netherlands (gaming machines cannot be operated in so-called “low barrier locations”, referred to in the Dutch language as “laagdrempelige inrichtingen” and including cafeterias, snack bars and community centres).

In Finland, slot machines and casino games must, according to the Finnish Lotteries Act, be sited in a supervised space. They may not be sited in a space where their use could endanger safety or cause a public disturbance.

Others limit the number of gambling machines per location. (Belgium, Austria -between three and eight per location, Denmark -three per restaurant with permit to serve alcohol, Germany -three in restaurants, 12 in gaming arcades, the Netherlands -a maximum of two gaming machines can be operated in a “high barrier location” referred to in the Dutch language as “hoogdrempelige inrichtingen”) and including bars and restaurants, but more are permitted in amusement arcades, and the United Kingdom (Great Britain)).

Various Member States prohibit the use of certain types of machines (Belgium, Austria – cash-prize gambling machines in six Länder, France -second-hand machines, Portugal – machines awarding cash prizes, and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) -high turnover machines). In the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, only approved types of gambling machines may be operated, imported or sold, while in Germany, machines must be approved by the National Metrology Institute to be permitted for operation.


About half of the Member States maintain licensing requirements for machine gambling operators (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands (where the operation of slot machines is subject to a triple licensing scheme), Sweden and the United Kingdom), and this license is often limited in time (Austria (2-10 years), Belgium (5-9 years), Denmark (5 years), Finland (5 years)).

Certain Member States also maintain a numerus clausus system (Belgium (180 gambling halls), Slovenia (40 game rooms) and Spain (6057 machines on the Baleares).

Specific requirements

Some Member States maintain specific legal requirements as to the type of legal entity entitled to run a machine gambling business (Finland, Spain (Aragon) and Sweden). The laws of certain Member States also impose residence or domicile requirements on the operators (Austria (depending on the Land), Denmark, Finland and Malta). In 1979, an Order issued by the Spanish Ministry of Interior created a monopoly for importing and manufacturing gaming machines. Although formally still in force, it seems that this Order has been tacitly abrogated.


Advertising of machine gambling services is legally restricted in Estonia and the Netherlands, where advertisements for all types of games of chance must comply with selfregulatory norms)

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