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In 2011 annual revenues of the overall EU gambling market were estimated to be around €84.9 billion, with annual growth rates of around 3%. Online gambling is the fastest growing service activity in this sector in the EU, with annual growth rates of almost 15%. Annual revenues in 2015 are expected to be €13 billion, compared to €9.3 billion in 2011. There is a wide offer and take-up of online gambling services in the EU, with 6.8 million consumers currently participating in online gambling.

Online technology continues to develop, including through diverse channels like the internet, mobile phone technology or digital TV. The different forms of gambling services can operate across borders and can also operate outside the control of Member States’ competent authorities. Consumers in Europe search beyond national borders for online gambling services that can be more competitive and they can be exposed to prevailing risks such as fraud.

Online gambling in the EU is characterised by a diversity of regulatory frameworks. Some Member States have monopolistic regimes run either by a public or a private operator on the basis of an exclusive right. Others have established licensing systems for more than one operator. At the same time, operators licensed in one or more Member States offer gambling services in other Member States without the authorisation required in those countries.

While an ever increasing number of Member States is undertaking a review of their national regulatory frameworks, the prevailing regulatory, societal and technical issues in the EU cannot be undertaken adequately by Member States individually.

The work of the European Commission in this area focuses on:

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