A number of Member States prohibit gambling on their territories, except in so far as exceptions are provided by law. This restrictive policy normally aims to safeguard the interests of consumers and to prevent fraud, illegal gaming and problem gambling or addiction. It also aims at ensuring that the profits derived from the gambling market are attributed to the public’s general interests. In certain Member States, it is unlawful to facilitate participation in foreign games of chance. In a similar manner, it may be unlawful to deliberately participate in a game of chance offered by an operator not licensed by the competent national authority of the Member State where the participant resides.
For online gambling services different regulatory frameworks exist:
A few Member States (e.g. Germany, The Netherlands) prohibit the offering of games of chance on the internet, either for all games of chance or for certain types of games, such as poker and casino games.
Some European jurisdictions (e.g. Finland, Portugal, Sweden) have set up monopolistic regimes for the offering of online gambling services. These services are offered either by a state-controlled public operator or by a private operator on the basis of an exclusive right.
The notifications received over the past years show that a growing number of Member States establish licensing systems for the offering of online gambling services, allowing more than one operator to offer its services on the Member State’s market (e.g. Denmark, Estonia, France, Italy, Spain). The vast majority require every operator of online gambling offering services on their territories to obtain a licence within the jurisdiction. These gaming licenses can only be issued by national or regional authorities; whether or not the operator disposes of a gambling licence from one or more EU Member State is not always taken into consideration. Some Member States accept proof and documents demonstrating compliance with domestic licensing requirements. A few Member States recognise licences issued in other EU Member States. In general, the policy of granting licenses is elaborated and potential licensees have to comply with a series of strict requirements. In some Member States, there are also specific requirements as to the type of legal entity entitled to run a specific gambling activity. In a few cases, licences are only issued to non-profit national companies.
Online licences at large do not only cover online gambling services but all types of remote offers of gambling services, including mobile phones, tablet computer and IPTV.
While most Member States issue only one type of online licence, for business-to-consumer (B2C) services, some jurisdictions issue B2C and B2B licences. B2C licenses are the individual licences for the offering of different types of games (lotteries, betting, poker and casino type games) and for the promotion of gambling services. B2B gambling licences are issued for the hosting and managing of remote gambling operators, i.e. the provision of management and hosting facilities on a platform.
• No specific regulation
A few Member States (e.g. Ireland, Lithuania) still do not have any rules on the offering of online gambling services.