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Online Gambling Laws in Europe Update

January 6, 2010 (CAP Newswire) — As confusing and difficult to understand as the online gambling situation can be in the United States, in many ways it’s even more so in Europe, where each nation has its own regulations, and what’s legal in one nation is often forbidden in the nation next door.

In Estonia, online gambling has just become legal, as of January 1, 2010. As of now, Estonian gamblers can visit online casinos in their own country (although these casinos often feature software from other countries, namely Playtech). Next year, the liberalization of the nation’s online gambling laws will go even further, allowing international gaming companies to operate within the country.

“With the entering into force of the new Act about online gambling, Estonia went in line with many other European countries as Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Poland and The Netherlands where governments decided to seek money from gambling adopting ad-hoc legislation on the issue and opening their markets with precise rules against corruption and money laundering,” writes the Estonian Free Press. Read the article here.

That article may have been a bit premature to include Poland on its list, since that nation is currently struggling with its online gambling laws after a recent controversy. Read about that here.

Meanwhile, the Swiss online gambling industry is calling its online gambling regulation plans a “role model” for other countries, including the U.S. “Switzerland is liberalising without legal pressure … Most EU countries, such as Denmark, France, Italy, … are under pressure from the European Commission and the European Court of Justice to review their gambling legislation in order to comply with EU law,” according to a news release from Swiss consulting firm MECN.

“As Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it is under no such pressure but is still considering opening up key parts of its online gambling market. Martin Oelbermann, partner at MECN and co-author of the study explains: ‘The Swiss liberalisation plans show how the pressure of foreign online offers on state operators and income forces some states to rethink the existing regulations.’” Read the news release here.

In Germany, a group of politicians is working to overturn the severe online gambling restrictions currently in place in the EU’s biggest economy. “The Christian-Democratic Party and the Liberal Party coalition in the state of Schleswig-Holstein on 1 January cancelled the German Interstate Gambling Treaty, with a view to having its own licensing and regulatory framework for gaming and betting in place by the time the current treaty lapses on 1 January 2012,” according to eGaming Review. Read that story here.

And in Belgium, lawmakers are regulating the online gambling industry in apparently complete disregard for EU law. Read about that here. And, the latest news about online gambling in Greece can be found here.