European iGaming Regulatory Developments to Watch Out For in 2017

Growing pressure from European authorities has urged many EU member states to update their gambling laws to regulate the provision of iGaming services within their borders. Such undertakings have been further encouraged by the rapidly growing popularity of online gambling on a global scale.

Several countries are expected to (re-)regulate their gambling markets this year or at least to inch closer to doing so. Casino News Daily provides a list of the jurisdictions that are likely to present a new regulatory environment for iGaming operators in 2017.

The Netherlands

In mid-2016, the Dutch Lower House finally passed an online gambling bill that had been in the making for years. The broadly discussed piece included provisions for the regulation, taxation, and promotion of iGaming services. Licensure and responsible gambling were also among the topics dwelt upon.

The proposed legislation still needs to pass a Senate vote. Given the overwhelming support it has gained in the country’s Lower House and the pressure that the European Commission has been putting on lawmakers, it is very likely that the local iGaming market will be regulated in 2017.

Further indications that the country is gearing up for a new regulatory regime emerged in December 2016 when the local gambling regulator announced that it would punish wrongdoers more severely from January 1, 2017. As stated by Kansspelaanbieders, iGaming operators that provide illegal gambling services to Dutch customers will be imposed fines of up to €820,000, depending on the seriousness of their violations.

Germany

Germany’s current gambling regulations are too fuzzy to be deemed effective. It seems, however, that this may well change in 2017. Last year, the heads of the country’s 16 states put the long-anticipated beginning of discussions about how the regulatory environment should be changed.

German states began adopting the Interstate Treaty on Gambling in 2012. The law became effective in all 16 jurisdictions a year later. In general, the treaty provided for the legalization of online sports betting options. However, it capped the number of licenses to be issued to just 20. That limit was said to violate an EU-wide law about an interested party’s right to provide services. As a result, the Treaty was declared unconstitutional by European authorities.

To show their willingness for compliance with EU regulations, the 16 German state heads started a process of a comprehensive revision of the country’s gambling regulations. Officials are set to examine regulatory frameworks adopted by other EU jurisdictions to make sure that theirs will be approved by the EU, when the times for this comes.

Poland

Under Poland’s 2011 gambling law, sports betting is the only legal online gambling activity in the country. After said law was adopted in 2012, four licenses were issued to local companies. Other operators interested to provide their products to the local market were required to establish subsidiaries with physical presence in the country. Later amendments to the Gambling Act scrapped that requirement.

In May 2016, Polish lawmakers indicated that changes would be implemented to the existing regulations, ones that would introduce a much-needed diversity in the market. The amendments came into reality in mid-December.

Under the country’s updated Gambling Act, online poker and slot games will be provided to local customers. However, the operation of those will fall under the purview of the state monopoly. Unlicensed iGaming operators will be blocked from the local market.

The amendments are set to become effective on April 1, 2017. Any companies that do not operate in compliance with the new regulations will be blocked by July 1, 2017.

Slovenia

The country made first steps towards the regulation of its online gambling market in 2013. Lawmakers prepared regulatory framework, which was presented to the European Commission in early 2016. The new regulatory regime is likely to be adopted sometime in the first half of 2017.

Under the proposed amendments, international operators will be able to apply for licenses to provide iGaming services to local customers. However, sports betting and lottery operations will still fall under the state monopoly.

Slovenia holds a great potential to turn into a highly popular online poker market, particularly given the fact that neighboring Italy has ring-fenced online poker operations. Many prominent Italian players moved to Slovenia so as to be able to play the game against international competition. PokerStars’ recent exit from the country came as a big blow to those players. The good news is the world’s largest online poker room has revealed that it would likely return to the market as soon as possible.

Cyprus

Certain regulatory developments may be expected in the Republic in Cyprus, as well. The small Mediterranean country regulated the provision of online sports betting services in 2013. However, no licenses have been issued to interested operators yet.

In November 2016, the Cypriot National Betting Authority – Εθνική Αρχή Στοιχημάτων – said that it had ramped up efforts to block illegal gambling operators. Around 2,500 websites were black-listed as a result. This may be seen as an indication that licensure could begin soon.

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