Best European Online Casinos
A list of the best European online casinos would take a while to prepare, because Europe consists of 44 internationally recognized sovereign countries with their won gaming laws. Though the EU Commission pressures the 27 members of the European Union to standardize their gambling laws, that is not always the case. Even a largely compliant EU country like Germany has 16 federal states, which themselves sometimes have their own regional laws (for instance, Schleswig-Holstein).
With that in mind, this page offers a quick survey of European gambling laws. This article acts as a guide to European gaming regulators, with some references to the laws which created and inform those regulatory agencies. With over 741 million people living in Europe at the moment, you’ll find a dynamic and flourishing European gambling industry at the moment. Europe’s gaming sector flourishes despite efforts by some political leaders to control or restrict land-based and online betting in their lands.
The EU and European Gambling Laws
When you discuss European online casinos, it’s a discussion of a large number of jurisdictions and national laws. The internationalization of Europe through the European Union hasn’t reached such a point that its gambling laws are uniform yet, so you’ll find a patchwork of laws and statutes much like what you’d find with the state system in the United States.
In the US casino market, Nevada has a permissive gaming environment for casinos, while Utah and Hawaii have no legal form of gambling whatsoever – not even a state lottery. To protect its land-based casinos, though, Nevada bans lottery gambling.
The state of Texas outlaws most gambling, while it’s nearby neighbors Oklahoma and Louisiana set up casinos on the border with Texas, thus luring in billions of dollars in Texas gambling money every year. This proves that Texans love to gamble, despite the government ban.
You’ll find a similar patchwork in Europe, though the rulings and legislation are charged with the national/international conflict and national rivalries. Where Europe and the United States differ is the overall hostility (or lack thereof) of lawmakers to online gambling. While the EU tends to favor legalized gambling with regulation and taxation, many US politicians prefer to make the whole matter illegal.
For the sake of comparison, below is a quick look at how a handful of countries in Western Europe approach gambling laws.
Belgian Gaming Commission
The Belgian Gaming Commission or “BGC” enforces the Belgian Gaming Act by creating a black list of websites. Financial institutions and Internet service providers are encouraged to sign this protocol, pledging to block activity involving these websites. In doing so, international online casinos are blocked inside Belgium.
German Gambling Monopoly and EU Law
Many of Germany’s state lawmakers have tried to preserve a gambling monopoly within their various states, but an EU commission has complained these do not follow the German constitution or European law. Meanwhile, German lawmakers seek new ways to combat what they consider black market online casinos accepting players from inside German states. One possible solution is to follow the north German state of Schleswig-Holstein, which has institute anti-money laundering measures and policies to deal with problem gambling. Most important Schleswig-Holstein’s state laws comply with EU standards.
French Gambling Laws Since 2010
French anti-gambling laws have been pushed back significantly since 2010. In that year, the French Parliament created the “Autorite de regulation des jeux en ligne”, thankfully shortened to “ARJEL”. ARJEL creates greater regulation, allowing for better policing of rogue sites, better treatment for underage gaming and gambling addiction, and the collection of more revenues from online gambling. ARJEL began accepting licenses for legal websites that would offer online sports betting, online horse betting, and online poker.
For many years, France outlawed most forms of gambling as “immoral”, while the government operated the FDJ and PMU. The PMU is the Pari-Mutuel Urbain, a state-run horse racing monopoly, while the FDJ is the Group Francaise dex Jeux, the state-run lottery. These two state-run gaming monopolies led some to deride French policies as hypocritical.
Many of those critics see ARJEL as a step in the direction for uniformity and good sense. Though some French lawmakers considered outlawing “games of skill” played online, France instead signed a poker compact with Italy, Spain, and Portugal that added stability to the market.
EU Commission and the Single Market
The EU Commission continues to push for a single market in all economic spheres, including the online casino industry. Despite that push, most EU members have their own laws and policies, despite attempts at international standards. The overview above shows just three members of the European Union: casinos in Germany, France, and Belgium to show how three of the pillars of the European community react to EU gambling law imposition.
Apply this to more than 30 countries and you’ll see that what the European Union is a patchwork of laws. For instance, Switzerland held a plebiscite to ban offshore online operators, while Sweden introduced $500 per week caps on deposits for online players. The survey of EU members does not apply at all to the 17 European countries that are not members of the EU. Despite that, some gambling sites operate in most European countries. Here’s are a couple of examples.
888casino – 888 Casino has one of the largest player lists in the world. Using Playtech software, you can enjoy the latest gaming trends, such as live dealers and no-deposit bonuses.
In the case of 888 Casino or bet365, players can play using the downloadable software or play an instant, no-download browser-based if you use the Mac OS, Linux OS, or simply prefer instant play. Also, mobile players can gamble on the go using their Android smartphone or tablet computer, iPhone, or iPad.
UK and Commonwealth Online Casinos
UK online casino sought to become more Euro-friendly after the United States passed the UIGEA in 2006, seeking to replace the lost revenues from the lost US players. Brexit complicates matters for casino operators based in the UK, Isle of Man, and Gibraltar. Those in other gaming-friendly states like Malta or Cyprus, on the other hand, are firmly in the EU and the Eurozone.
Local online gambling providers have also begun to use the latest technologies, so the competition is fiercer now than it ever was. Dozens of proven operators exist which offers competitive welcome bonuses, hundreds of games, and top gaming platforms backed by some of the industries best software developers.
Licensing for European Online Casinos
Because of the predominance of the British online casinos in Euro online gambling, licensing often takes place in Malta or Gibraltar. Less frequently, you’ll see the Netherlands Antilles (Antigua and Barbuda), The Isle of Man, Cyprus, or the Kahnawake Gaming Commission out of Canada licensing these sites.
European Online Casino Deposit Options
You’ll find a myriad of payment options in Europe. Credit cards like Visa, Mastercard, and Diners Club International are accepted in most places. Debit cards like Delta, Intercash, Maestro, and Electron are also available.
Many European players prefer to use web wallets or e-wallets like Neteller, Ukash, Entropay, eNets, ClickandBuy, PaySafeCard, EcoCard, and Click2Pay. Each country on the international gaming scene seems to have its own preferred payment solutions. Therefore, you’ll find brands like Poli, abaqoos, Barcode Santander, Dankort, DineroMail, Sofortuberweisung, eCard, eKonto, and myCitadel Wallet (Citadel) operating in certain countries.
If you don’t recognize names like ELV Elektronisches Lastschriftverfahren, eps, Nordea, Euteller, or GiroPay, it means the payment method likely isn’t available in your country. Still, a large section of the gaming public in certain countries want online casinos to support methods like iDeal, Ticket Premium, UInstaDebit, Lobanet, MB Multibanco, Mister Cash, Boleto Bancario, and Moneta.RU, which sometimes are tied to bank cards.
So many of these exist across Europe, it’s hard to list them all, but if you have a preferred online payment service, then search for brand names like Neosurf, Przelewy24, Teleingreso, seMyBank, and WebMoney. In the last 15 years, Moneybookers bought a number of the local electronic commerce services, so consolidation took place. Eventually, Moneybookers changed its name to “Skrill”, then itself joined with Neteller and PaySafeCard in the PaySafe Group.
If you don’t want to use credit, debit, or electronic transfer businesses, you can use instant Wire Transfer, internet banking, online bank transfer, online bill payment, check (cheque), or money order in many locations.
One widely accepted payment option for European casino players is PayPal. Ebay bought PayPal over 15 years ago. Because it was the preferred payment method on Ebay, PayPal became a widely used online payment service. Though it’s banned for online gambling in the United States, PayPal is popular among European online casino operators. The top casinos and betting sites in Europe accept Paypal deposits, while allowing players to withdraw winnings through their service.