Online Gambling Operators Adapting to New Realities of Regulated EU MarketsPublished June 24, 2017 by Ivan P
More and more EU countries are passing online gambling regulations, forcing gaming operators that want to stay relevant to adapt and go with the flow.
Online gambling isn't what it used to be a decade or so ago. Many things have changed, and not only in terms of technology. More and more countries, especially in the European Union, are creating a regulatory framework for gambling providers and software suppliers to adhere to, looking to create a sustainable but also a safe and reliable market. The idea is to set up things in a way that allows operators to turn a profit and develop their business while protecting players and creating a significant revenue stream for state budgets.
The UK Leading the Way
The United Kingdom is one of the best examples of how regulating gambling market can be done in a way to meet all of these goals. Other European countries, such as Italy or Spain, have been following their example, looking to create similar safe and well-regulated environments, but the UK remains the leader in dealing with the issues of regulation.
Tasks connected to regulating online gambling mostly fall under the domain of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). From the National Lottery to domestic and foreign online casinos, the Commission makes sure that all gambling businesses adhere to very strict and well-defined laws.
One of the things the UKGC has been especially keen on as of late is the matter of responsible gambling, requiring all the sites that hold the UK license to make it easy for the players to self-exclude at any time, without a lengthy or complicated process during which they could be convinced to change their mind. Furthermore, the 2014 Licensing and Advertising Bill prohibits any gambling operators not licensed in the country to advertise their services to UK residents.
Modern Operators Adjusting to Changing Climate
With more and more European countries changing their approach to online gambling regulation, leading online casinos are trying to step up their game and keep up with these changes. These EU countries often represent prime markets, so household names like bet365 absolutely need to stay ahead of the curve, fall in line with the laws, and obtain necessary licenses to stay competitive in the ever-changing market.
Based in the UK, bet365 primarily needed to get everything sorted at home. The company has been in business since 2000, and they are, beyond any doubt, one of the leaders in the world of sports betting and online gambling.
Regulated and licensed by the UKGC, this sportsbook, online casino, and online poker operator has had to adjust to changing regulations to stay in the game, adopting changes and requirements as they were introduced. Nowadays, the site contains one of the richest sports betting offers out there, they have hundreds of casino games, and a fairly popular online poker client.
Together with all that, bet365 also features very detailed Terms and Conditions, leaving no room for confusion, as well as a well-rounded program of support for problem gambling. Players are given numerous options and useful links in the event they feel their gambling habits have become problematic, from seeking advice and support to taking a Time Out or self-excluding themselves for a longer period or permanently with just a few clicks.
Gambling Regulation in Spain
In Spain, the online gambling regulation has started with the Spanish Gambling Act that was passed in 2011. The Act was the foundation for creating a regulated and supervised online gambling market.
Up until 2014, online casinos who were licensed in the country weren't allowed to offer slots, and betting exchanges were prohibited as well. That changed in July of 2014 when slots were finally allowed to be included in the offer of online casinos licensed in Spain.
In line with their efforts to corner as many regulated markets as possible, bet365 obtained a license from the Spanish DGOJ as early as 2012. As the regulation changed, the sportsbook and online casino operator expanded this license to include live games (in 2013) and casino slots, as soon as these games were allowed. bet365 also offers online poker games to Spanish players, although they are only allowed to play against other players from Spain (the so-called fenced market).
Italian Online Gaming Market
In Italy, online gambling was largely prohibited until 2006 when things started to change under pressure from the European Commission. In 2007, the country legalized online poker in the tournament format, to begin with, expanding to cash games and video poker soon after. In 2010, other casino games were regulated as well. Changes from 2010 allowed foreign gambling operators to offer their services to Italian players, after obtaining necessary approvals and licenses from the AAMS, the main regulatory body in the country.
Like with Spain, bet365 was one of the first operators to obtain the Italian license as soon as the opportunity had appeared, ensuring their presence in the market. Italian players can legally bet on sports, play slots, or enjoy online poker via a dedicated bet365 site in the Italian language.
Although bet365 isn't the only casino and sportsbook with a strong presence in regulated markets, they are a prime example of how household online gambling operators maintain their presence in significant markets despite various changes. These changes sometimes aren't particularly favorable to them, but maintaining brand awareness is way too valuable to simply leave these markets.
Other European Countries
The UK, Italy, and Spain aren't the only countries with clearly defined online gambling laws. Bulgaria is one of the countries that re-defined its online gambling laws, initially blacklisting a number of big operators. Many of these online casinos and sportsbooks applied for licenses and subsequently received the necessary approval, but this process wasn't without controversies, either.
Once again, bet365 is a good example of how staying present in different markets can be challenging at times. After they had initially been granted the license to offer their betting services in Bulgaria, the license was revoked soon after by the SGC. Instead of just going with the flow, bet365 decided to stand their ground and challenged this decision before the court, claiming anti-competitive practices. They ended up winning the case, and their license was re-established, allowing Bulgarian player to bet with bet365.
Similar to Italy, Denmark was under pressure to change their online gambling laws to allow foreign operators and abolish the state monopoly. This change finally came in 2012, and companies like bet365 were allowed to enter the market, quickly seizing the opportunity.
Keeping Up the Pace
Online gambling regulations have been changing in the number of European countries over the recent years. Some of these laws aren't particularly favorable to online casinos and other gaming operators, but the only way for them to stay relevant in the changing climate is to adapt and adjust their business to new circumstances.
Giants like bet365 understand this, and they are usually among the first ones to obtain a license when a new regulated market opens up. Even when things aren't perfect, to begin with, such operators are banking on the positive developments in the future and want to be present in as many markets as possible, further strengthening their brand and maintaining the loyalty of the players at all costs.