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United Europe: The Next Step in Online Gambling Regulations?

Just recently, the Swedish Spelinspektionen visited the UKGC to share experiences and knowledge, with a particular interest in fighting illegal betting. The two authorities also discussed how to implement changes and ideas in practice, and what kind of initiatives work best. Why is it necessary to mention this? It is a rare occasion when gambling watchdogs put their heads together. They shared opinions and possibly helped each other move in the right direction. 

What seems like a small step for authorities, could turn out to be a major leap for the most appealing iGaming market in the world – the European market.

Show Me the Money – Importance of Europe in the World of Online Gambling 

The United States is going through growing pains, state by state. The massive Indian market is still pretty much regulated by ancient laws from the 19th century. Now, it is making moves towards regulating things in a completely unexpected and unorthodox way. African countries are not making gambling laws a priority, with a couple of notable exceptions, just like LatAm. Europe is, without a doubt, the most attractive and lucrative online gambling market in the world. 

An average household on the Peninsula of Peninsulas spends 10% of its income on leisure activities, including gambling. Much more than in any other regulated market. Europe is stable and rich. It is not only where the money is, but also where companies can expect a transparent legal framework they must adhere to. Well, as long as they are not planning to operate on the black market.   

Currently, the European gambling market is a melting pot of ideas, strategies, laws, restrictions, regulations, and different taxing systems. On top of that, not every country allows all types of gambling. For example, in Croatia, you can bet on pretty much anything but dogs and cock fights. In France, on the other hand, you can’t even think of playing online slots. 

And do I even have to mention state monopolies in certain countries? And let’s not forget that not all countries have the same amount of experience in the gambling arena. Some have been doing it for decades, like the UK, and others have started just recently. 

Together We Are Stronger 

In an ideal world, all European countries (and by that, I don’t mean just the EU members) would hold hands and dance on meadows of online slots, live blackjack, and sports bets. However, I am old enough to know things don’t work that way. Still, I believe that Spelinspektionen reaching out to the UKGC cracked the door open for a new discourse. iGaming authorities should not only ban unlicensed brands. They must communicate, share efficient practices, and exchange ideas. By joining efforts, they can make the entire Europe a much safer place for gambling. 

And trust me when I say that idea is nothing new. It first occurred in June 1991, when Toto Cutugno’s “Insieme: 1992” was rocking the charts, and one year before the Maastricht Treaty. The same idea was introduced once again more than a decade later with the Europe Economics’ Report. The Report accentuates the importance of free trade, generating lower prices, unified advertising rules, and others. 

Maybe someday the European Union will have a single online gambling regulator. It is not impossible, although it is far-fetched. The European Commission really likes its bureaucrats. They would feel so excited with yet another supervising body. Like kids on Christmas!

Meet the Bad Girl: Malta 

I believe it is possible the idea of having “one ring to rule them all” gets a bad reputation because of Malta. This island EU member did its fair share of making the concept unappealing. In the very beginning of iGaming, it created a brand relying on the idea of MGA being the overall gambling authority in the EU. Of course, that is not true. 

But just because it is not true, doesn’t mean it didn’t work. It took other authorities ages to establish themselves as local watchdogs. The entire thing turned into a sort of international incident that grows strong to this day. It’s a long story, and it is complicated. 

The gambling cake is big, but it looks much smaller when some countries are queuing to get their slice, and others are devouring it with their hands. Since 2021, the EU has been combating Malta to give up on its practices. Unfortunately, to little avail, as they always come up with even more absurd ideas. Looking at you Bill 55

Will It Happen and When? 

All things considered, I don’t exclude the idea of having a single iGaming policy for the whole of Europe, but I won’t hold my breath. Even so, the Spelinspektionen’s visit is a step in the right direction and one that encourages others to reach out to authorities with more experience. Just imagine how great it would be if, instead of feeling like testing bunnies in a casino lab, players felt confident that the local regulator knows what it’s doing! 

It is time to finally overcome our differences and create an effective system that creates a standardized set of rules and a platform to share opinions, experiences, tools, and policies. 

For instance, Europe could have a single repository for all online gambling brands so players can see whether they have been prosecuted or banned in other countries. From the top of my head, I have dozens of ideas. But it is not my job to do their work. Let’s hope they come up with something useful in the near future. If not, they know where to find me. 

And now excuse me, I have to blast Toto Cutugno on YouTube. 

This article delivers the thoughts and opinions of the author, and it doesn't represent the stance of GoodLuckMate.

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Borina Kopcic Pandur
Borina Kopcic Pandur
Last Update: 31 Oct 2023
Borina Kopcic Pandur is a skilled and imaginative writer with years of experience in the gambling industry. As a writer for GoodLuckMate, she specializes in crafting detailed and engaging casino reviews that offer a fresh perspective on online gambling. With her unique writing style and profound industry knowledge, she provides readers with expert evaluations and insightful perspectives.

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