Best European Online Casinos
A man could write all day about European online casinos and the various national laws which affects those websites. If you wanted reviews of the best Euro online casinos, that might take all week. I prefer to give readers a glimpse at the overall scene, to make further study easier and less confusing.
With that in mind, I’m offering a quick survey of the European gambling laws and authorities, so you get an idea how complicated gaming law is on the continent. Then I’ll offer up some of the biggest and most famous online casinos in Europe, to give you ideas about where to play and show how this dynamic industry continues to flourish, despite efforts by local political leaders to throw a fly in the ointment.
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, you’ll have Nevada giving much leeway for casinos, while Utah next door has no legal form of gambling whatsoever–even a state lottery. 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.
You’ll find a similar patchwork in Europe, though the rulings and legislation are charged with the national/international conflict and national rivalries. The EU would like to see a more uniform set of laws, but this is still some distance away. Where Europe and the United States differ is the overall hostility (or lack thereof) of its politicians 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.
I wanted to touch on some of the latest online gambling laws on the European continent, to give readers some idea of the mood of legislators and the people they represent. This is a necessarily limited picture of European online casino laws–more of a snapshot than anything.
Belgian Gaming Commission
The Belgian Gaming Commission or “BGC” tries to enforce 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.
The French policies have long been derided as hypocritical. For the longest time, 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. Though ARJEL has been a step in the right direction for uniformity and good sense, French lawmakers have also considered outlawing “games of skill” played online–which would be a major step backwards.
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. We’re a far cry away from that ever happening, but if you want to learn what the influential EU Commission thinks about online gambling and “international market” services in Europe, you might read the EU Commission Green Paper (http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/services/gambling_en.htm) on that subject.
The fact is, powerful forces on either side of the national/international divide come into conflict over European casino laws. I included the news about 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 doing is a bit like herding cats.
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.
Euro Grand Casino – Eurogrand is licensed in Gibraltar and uses Playtech software. You 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.
William Hill Online – William Hill‘s land-based business began as an English sports book, but their online casinos takes bets on table games like live blackjack and roulette, along with fruit machine gambling and video poker bets. William Hill Casino is powered by Playtech.
Winner Casino – Winner Casino uses Playtech software and is licensed in Antigua & Barbuda. The casino is part of Zirconium Gaming Limited and is another United Kingdom based company.
All Slots Casino – Allslots is a member of the Jackpots Factory Group. All Slots Casino uses Microgaming software and is part of the eCogra Fair Gaming Association (led by Microgaming). I’ve seen that eCogra continues to spread through the EU, such as the recent announcement that the eCogra sites had struck a bargain to enter the Denmark online gaming market. AllSlots is a favorite of UK players, but it supports 21 different European languages, so most Euros should enjoy the site.
More European Online Casino
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The UK sites have tried to make themselves more Euro-friendly in the past few years, seeking to replace the lost revenues from the lost US players. Local online gambling providers have also begun to use the latest technologies, so the competition is more fierce than ever. If you don’t try any of the sites above, consider 32red Casino, WinPalace, or Golden Cherry. Each of these is a proven operator which offers competitive rates and is powered by one of the top gaming platforms.
Licensing for Euro 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.
Payment Options in Europe
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. E-wallet services like Neteller, Ukash, Entropay, eNets, ClickandBuy, PaySafeCard, EcoCard, Click2Pay, Poli, abaqoos, Barcode Santander, Dankort, DineroMail, Sofortuberweisung, eCard, eKonto, myCitadel Wallet (Citadel), ELV Elektronisches Lastschriftverfahren, eps, Nordea, Euteller, GiroPay, iDeal, Ticket Premium, UInstaDebit, Lobanet, MB Multibanco, Mister Cash, Boleto Bancario, Moneta.RU, Neosurf, Przelewy24, Teleingreso, seMyBank, and WebMoney. So many of these exist across Europa, it’s hard to list them all. 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.
In the last few years, Moneybookers has bought a number of the local electronic commerce services, so consolidation is taking place as I write. Moneybookers is now known as “Skrill”, so this might add to the confusion of some.
Perhaps, the most common and widely accepted payment option for European casino players is PayPal. The top casinos and betting sites in Europe accept Paypal deposits and will also allow you to use your account to withdraw any winnings.