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Landscape changing for European online casinos

Fri, Jan 18, 11:43am by Staff Writer

The European online casino landscape is evolving at a rapid pace and so to must the regulatory guidelines that govern it with 2019 set to be a big year for changes to online gaming regulations in Europe according to Lawyer Monthly.

Online casinos are steadily attracting more and more market share away from the traditional stronghold – the land-based casino.

A number of nations are set to revise the way they regulate online casinos, with Sweden, the Netherland and the United Kingdom amongst that group.

2019 will be a defining year for Sweden’s online casinos.

On January 1st, the country liberalised its online casino. Online competitors have slowly eaten away at the dividends of domestic operations, with Swedish legislators opting to embrace the rise of global competition rather than resist it.

Foreign companies have been granted permission to apply for licenses in Sweden after the country’s monopoly of state-owner gambling providers have suffered in recent times.

The Swedish Gambling Authority granted 26 licenses in the week before Christmas as the nation prepared for a reorganisation of its gambling markets.

Lotteriinspektionen, soon to be known as Spelinspektionen issued 26 licenses, ensuring the authority has granted 57 licenses since November 2018.

It will be illegal to target Swedish gamblers without a license from the regulator once the 2019 year commences, with many companies applying for licenses yet to receive them. They will be prohibited from operating in Sweden.

If these companies are found to have violated the new rules, they will be deprived of the chance to receive authorisation to enter the Scandinavian country’s newly liberalised market.

Unlicensed operators have generated SEK4.546 billion during that time, with members of Sweden’s regulated market posting a 2.4 per cent loss in that same time span, to SEK 12.239 billion.

Off-shore gambling operators have proved popular with Swedish gamblers in the past 12 months, with more than 60 per cent of all online gambling registrations made with international operators.

The data released by Swedish consultancy firm Mediavision also reports that nearly 60 per cent of all Swedes aged between 18-74 have an online gambling account, up 12 per cent from last year.

Svenska Spel, the state-run operator that holds the monopoly over most of the gambling services provided on the country’s territory holds the largest share of all registered accounts.

Liberalisation slower in Holland

The Dutch government was staunch in its opposition of foreign online casinos, vowing to only permit its citizens to access domestic operators.

The Remote Gaming Bill has taken time to move through the Dutch Senate and its regulatory changes are not expected until 2020 at the earliest.

There are many Dutch online casino sites that provide safe and diverse gaming experiences with sites such as SlotsMillion and Spinia offering games from renowned providers like NetEnt.

The Swedish and Dutch governments are seeking to liberalise their market, although at different paces.

UK looking to prohibit and tax

This is in contrast to the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission, which is seeking to restrict usage.

The prohibition of credit card betting has been floated in the first quarter of 2019, while a levy on all gambling companies registered in the UK is being considered.

Online operators in the UK will see a taxation increase from 15 per cent to 21 per cent in April, surpassing the tax level in Sweden.

The UK government is considering a ban on the use of credit cards to gamble with Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright seeking “social responsibility” from all gambling companies as well as the banks.

He will meet with bankers and bookmakers to talk through the problem of players getting into debt using cash they don’t have.

It is thought as much as 20 per cent of online gambling spend is through credit cards.

The move is part of a broader crackdown that will also lead to the government seeking to address slow progress on self-exclusion schemes, which are designed to help addicts opt out of betting.

The UK Gambling Commission has been looking to prohibit or restrict credit card use since 2017 when it published its review of the state of the gambling industry in the country.

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