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European Online Gambling Regulation Changes Expected in 2019

Are EU based online casino gambling enthusiasts going to see a brighter year in 2019? Read on to find out the potential changes in regulations in the coming year.

It has been just over two decades since the advent of online gambling and much has changed since. The online gambling experience has been transformed by the technological advancements made over the last decade. There have been changes in terms of both, the devices used to access and indulge in online gambling, as well as the online casinos and games themselves.

We now have unrestricted, dynamic and mobile access in our pockets and at our fingertips coupled with more services, features, bonuses and offers than ever before! Just think about the sheer number of European casinos offering no deposit bonuses, for instance.

The challenges of innovation vs. legislation

Like with the onset and development of other industries, the online gambling sector too finds itself unbalanced when it comes to innovation vs. legislation. Some of the reasons are:

  • The legislative structure and foundation are lagging behind the technological innovations.
  • Only in the recent past have we started too witness nations attempt to regulate their online gambling market.
  • These efforts are especially challenging considering that the governments and their policy makers have to find the sweet spot between taxation and a safe/fair environment for online punters.
  • Levy too much tax and the demand will be redirected towards underground and unregulated bookmaking.

Across Europe, 2019 is expected to bring forth an exponential increase in regulation. Hopefully the right kind of regulation which will foster both local and international gambling ventures and taxation that is not too aggressive.

Let us now delve into the upcoming legislative prospects of some of the European nations.

Belarus – newly legalized and applications can be made in 2019

Belarus flag

Belarus, to an outsider, seems like a pretty unique country considering that it has been ruled by the same person (Aleksander Lukashenko) for over twenty years. Lukashenko, however, has recently signed a bill that made online gambling legal in Belarus after the Minister of Taxes and Levies submitted the bill to regulate online gambling.

As per the specifics of the legislation, anyone aged 21 or over can legally gamble online adhering to certain identity checks and other terms and conditions. 2019 is going to see online casino operators applying for licenses to operate lawfully and serve the people of Belarus.

What is important to remember is that the general consensus about gambling amongst the public is that it is taboo. Therefore, experts do not forecast great revenue generation from the industry here. However, with a population of ten million people, it is going to be interesting to see how it fares.

Czech Republic jumps on board and starts to accept foreign operators

Czech flag

The approval to revamp the online gambling scene in the Czech Republic has come from The Chamber of Deputies of the Czech parliament. The new bill is set to override and enhance their current Gambling Act which was put forth in 1990.

While online gambling has been legal in the Czech Republic for years now, the market has never actually flourished to its full potential. This is because there is a restriction which banned foreign operators from serving Czech based online punters.

Thankfully, the new bill is set to void this ban and will allow licensed foreign operators to apply and operate lawfully in Czech Republic. 2019 is expected to see a flood of online casino operators apply for the same since it is already evident that the demand and the market certainly exist in Czech Republic.

The newly passed bill is said to comprise of three different parts, and is yet to be reviewed by the Czech parliament's senate before the president can sign it and make it effective. However, policy makers seem pretty confident that this is only a matter of ceremony and that the bill will positively be signed by the president.

For operators that want to serve Czech citizens and players based in the Czech Republic, they will have to seek licenses issued by the Ministry of Finance and oblige with the terms and the taxation rates. However, the licenses will only be issued for a period of six years and not more.

ISPs in the Czech Republic will be burdened with the responsibility of whitelisting only the licensed and approved operators' websites and block any other online casinos. The whitelist will be maintained by the Ministry of Finance.

Slovakia to loosen restrictions around online gambling

Slovakia flag

Come 2019, the central European country of Slovakia will reconsider many of their overly restricting gambling laws and might even get rid of a bunch of them. The Slovakian Government has already issued a statement confirming that they will loosen certain online gambling regulations currently in effect in the country and pertaining to online activities.

The current legislation has been in effect since 2005 and has resulted in nothing more than an ever - growing list of online casino operators and online casino websites that have been unjustifiably blacklisted. In fact, this list also includes the likes of online casino operators such as 888 and Bet365, which are arguably some of the biggest, and most trust worthy online casino services in the world right now.

Furthermore, the online gambling tax in Slovakia at this time is very steep at 23%. This substantially discourages any casino operator, be it local or foreign, from even attempting to apply, operate and service Slovakian based punters.

Sweden expected to make huge gambling regulation changes in 2019

Sweden flag

The current local only monopolistic grip over Sweden's online gambling market is set to become a level playing field come 2019. A review commissioned by the Swedish Government has, unsurprisingly, found that the country will benefit by replacing the current process with a more liberal licensing system. This will make it easier for foreign operators to get licenses and boost Sweden's online gambling market to unprecedented levels. This will in turn result in a massive amount of revenue generated for the government in terms of tax money.

Conclusion

At large, the common theme is that European nations seem to be shifting towards regulating online casinos and gambling. It is being pursued in a way that allows for international operators to apply for licenses and provide services to European players. The current regulation is being modified to facilitate this. 2019 will potentially see a lot of older, restrictive gambling bills and legislations being lifted.

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