Recent Developments in the European Online Casino Industry

3 June 2016

If you are looking to open an online casino in Europe, you will find out that the market is constantly evolving, and we are looking to see some major changes in the near future. Several countries are willing to expand their gaming regulation, while others are looking forward to cooperating in order to link several casino systems from different jurisdictions, in order to reach more customers and increase revenue stream.

Even so, some EU countries are just starting to create their individual regulatory systems, which do not allow players to try to access online casinos based in other locations. Like so, we expect to see some interesting moves by the end of the year. Until then, let’s find out about the latest news regarding the European gaming industry.    European gaming

Poland taking steps towards legalizing online poker

Polish online poker is currently in a grey area, due to the fact that there is no actual regulation to prohibit or approve it. Like so, the Ministry of Finance is currently pushing for developing a regulation that would amend the current Gambling Act, so that players will be able to enjoy online poker in a regulated system, without risking to play at unlicensed online casino sites.

Operators who want to open an online casino should know that, until now, online poker has been played in Poland, even though the industry is not regulated. Like so, Polish authorities try to use several methods in order to stop this behavior, such as giving fines to players who win at online poker.

Even so, online poker games are still being played by Polish residents, so the Ministry of Finance wants to see if the country will benefit from online poker taxation, which will lead to an increase in revenue for the state coffers, and a better protection of Polish online poker players.

Like so, Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister has explained that a possible 20 percent rate could be applied on online poker revenue.

Czech regulators could open borders for online gaming

Operators who are looking to open an online casino in the Czech Republic should know that a newly-proposed gaming legislation could soon come into force, thanks to the new senate vote that would bring it into effect sometimes around January 1, 2017.

Up to now, five operators are licensed in the Czech Republic, but the new legislation is expected to comply with the guidelines presented by the European Commission. This would lead to a cooperation between other EU states, by allowing licensing applications from operators outside the country, based in EU member countries.

Even so, the tax rates are not expected to be attractive for operators who want to open an online casino in the Czech Republic. It has been stated that, with the new tax regime, operators will have to pay 35% of gross gaming revenues for casino games, and 23% for sports betting solutions. More than that, a 19% tax for online gaming companies will also be applied.

Regulators are expected to make a few amendments regarding player protection, such as a national exclusion database that would allow gaming enthusiasts to block themselves when they suspect they suffer from gambling addiction.

The bill would also contain a section referring to blocking unauthorized operators who try to offer services to Czech residents.

Spanish online gaming on the rise once again

Operators who are looking to open an online casino in Spain should know that the gross gaming revenue generated by the local industry has increased by 32% during the first quarter of 2016, compared to the same period a year ago.

This comes as a result of more aggressive advertising campaigns led by online gaming operators, who supposedly invested 46% more money on publicity than last year. Like so, an incredible 104% growth has been reported for online casino gaming, compared to the first quarter of last year. Another significant increase has been noticed in the sports betting industry, with an approximate growth of 29% compared to the same period last year.

Despite this significant online casino and sports betting growth, online poker operators seem to be struggling in Spain, this part of the gaming market in the country declining by 12% compared to the first quarter of 2015. Like so, Spain could be looking into making several agreements with EU state members, in order to share player liquidity.  

Portugal opens up to online sports betting once again

After the changes that have been made in the Portuguese online sports betting legislation in 2015, when major online sportsbook operators had to leave the market, Portugal reopens its doors to this industry thanks to a recently-implemented online gambling legal framework.

Until now, only one license has been awarded, but this is just the beginning of the revival of the online sports betting market in Portugal. Up to now, only sports betting is permitted according to the gaming regulatory system. This means that the licensees will have to solely offer sports betting in Portugal in order to comply with the local regulations.

The downside of the Portuguese online sports betting regulatory system is the tax regime. Operators who want to engage in such activities must pay a tax which ranges between 8 and 16 percent on total turnover.

The fact that this rate is calculated on total turnover rather than gross gaming revenue represents a significant disadvantage for operators, since the costs are much higher. The decision to implement this tax regime comes as a result of Portugal’s fiscal crisis, in an effort to comply with the European Union conditions for a bailout package.

This harsh tax regime will affect both operators and players from Portugal, since gaming enthusiasts will probably turn to placing bets at online gaming sites offered by offshore operators.  

Dutch remote gaming to be regulated by 2017

A bill that would regulate remote gaming in the Netherlands is expected to come into force by the beginning of 2017. The new regulatory system would allow operators who want to start an online casino to offer casino games, including poker, and sports betting.

Lawmakers are willing to introduce a tax of 20% on online winnings, which would represent a significant advantage for online operators, due to the fact that the land-based gaming tax is set at 29% on gross gaming revenue.

This would help operators to offer high payout rates, rather than spending money on tax, which would eventually attract players to access licensed online casinos. Like so, regulators are looking to channel 80% of consumer demand to operators licensed in the Netherlands.

3 June 2016

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