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The EU gambling market is estimated at around EUR 84.9 billion and grows at a yearly rate of around 3%. Online gambling is particularly popular with around 6.8 million consumers in the EU and a wide variety of operators offering services. In 2012, online gambling services represented more than 12% of the EU’s gambling market with annual revenues of over EUR 10 billion. Annual revenues in 2015 for online gambling are expected to increase to EUR 13 billion.

How online gambling works in the EU

Online gambling in the EU is characterised by diverse regulatory frameworks with some EU countries having monopolistic regimes run by a sole public or a private operator, and others having established licensing systems for more than one operator. At the same time, operators licensed in one or more EU countries can offer gambling services in other countries without the authorisation normally required in those other countries.

Online gambling is a fast developing activity in Europe, both in terms of supply and demand.

Different kinds of gambling services often operate across borders and can also operate outside the control of individual EU countries’ national authorities. Because consumers in Europe search beyond national borders for more competitive online gambling services, they can be exposed to risks such as fraud.

What the European Commission does

There is no sector-specific EU legislation for gambling services.

An ever increasing number of EU countries have engaged in a review of their gambling legislation, in particular to take account of new forms of gambling that are primarily taking place online. However, the prevailing regulatory, societal and technical challenges related to gambling in the EU cannot be adequately met by countries acting individually. With national measures alone, individual EU countries are unable to provide individuals with effective protection due to the nature of the online environment and the often cross-border dimension of online gambling.

The Commission focuses on online gambling services given the sector’s inherent cross-border nature.The Commission’s gambling policy is built around key initiatives set out in the action plan presented in its 2012 Communication on gambling.

Commission Communication on gambling

In 2012, the European Commission adopted the Communication 'Towards a comprehensive European framework on online gambling', accompanied by a staff working paper. Based on an in-depth public consultation, this Communication sets out an action plan to enhance clarity on gambling issues throughout the EU for national authorities, operators, related industries such as media service providers, and consumers.

On the basis of the Communication, the work of the Commission in the gambling sector focuses on:

  • compliance of national regulatory frameworks with EU law;
  • enhancing administrative cooperation and efficient enforcement;
  • protecting consumers, minors and vulnerable groups;
  • preventing fraud and money laundering;
  • safeguarding the integrity of sports and preventing match-fixing.

Commission green paper on online gambling in the Single Market

Before the Communication, the Commission released a green paper in March 2011. This green paper launched an extensive consultation on public policy challenges and possible Single Market issues resulting from the rapid development of illicit and unauthorised online gambling directed at EU citizens.


To complement the consultation, the Commission organised expert workshops on specific themes.

Please note that the views expressed during the workshops and the conclusions reached are those of the specialists and not necessarily those of the organisation represented.

Workshop 1: On-line gambling and sport integrity (with focus on match-fixing)

This workshop focused on issues related to match-fixing, in particular the identification of inherent risks, prevention and detection measures, sanctions and methods of enforcement, and the resources needed for them. It sought a better understanding of the nature and scale of the risks involved, existing measures by sport bodies, operators and regulators to protect the integrity of sport, and how these measures could be enhanced.


Workshop 2: On-line gambling: Detection and prevention of problem gambling and addiction

This workshop discussed issues related to responsible on-line gambling, in particular the identification and better understanding of key characteristics that may lead to the development of problem gambling or addiction, as well as preventive measures including corporate social responsibility.

The workshop was organised in cooperation with the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation through the Addiction and lifestyles in contemporary Europe – Reframing Addictions project (ALICE-RAP). This project is a five-year transnational and interdisciplinary project which aims to contribute to the debate on current norms and future implications of addiction in Europe over the next 20 years.


Workshop 3: On-line gambling and systems of revenue distribution

This workshop focused on the financing of public interest objectives by seeking to get a clearer picture of how beneficiaries rely on gambling revenue. In particular, it looked at:

  • systems in place to collect revenue from the operators of lotteries, casinos, betting shops, etc;
  • systems in place to channel this revenue to beneficiaries.


Workshop 4: On-line gambling and prevention of fraud and money laundering

This workshop addressed issues concerning the protection of public order. In particular, it looked at existing measures to detect and prevent fraud and money laundering. It also sought to get a better understanding of how customers and operators are protected from fraudulent practices. This included looking at existing cooperation amongst authorities in single EU countries and across different EU countries.


Workshop 5: On-line gambling: efficient national enforcement measures and administrative cooperation

The workshop focused on how individual EU countries use their national gambling policies to achieve public interest objectives. It established what the responsibilities of the gambling authorities in different countries were and looked at the existence and potential of cooperation between European regulators and other stakeholders such as sports organisations and betting operators. A clearer picture of the existence and efficacy of enforcement tools such as payment blocking and blocking access to websites also emerged from the discussion.


Expert group on gambling

The Commission set up a group of experts on gambling services in 2012. This group provides the Commission with advice and expertise for the preparation of policy initiatives. It also facilitates the exchange of regulatory experience and good practice between EU countries.

Documents including meeting minutes and agendas

Documents from other EU institutions