April 2, 2010 (PAP Newswire) – As Europe’s Internet gambling marketplace continues to evolve, a positive trend is in danger of being overshadowed by a more negative trend. More and more countries are legalizing and regulating online gambling and Internet poker — a good sign — but as they do so, they’re deciding to either kick foreign operators out, or implement a new series of fees and taxes on them.
In France, after highly publicized legal threats, lawmakers have finally relented to the idea of allowing foreign operators in their newly regulated market. “Denmark may do the same, and Italy is opening its market in stages,” writes Matthew Campbell in BusinessWeek. “Germany’s prohibition faces a challenge at Europe’s highest court.”
That’s the good news. Less positive is the fact that these “open” markets are exacting tight restrictions on foreign operators like Bwin and PartyGaming. To fund the new operations framework required by all these new regulations will require an investment of around 1 billion euros, Bwin’s Co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger told BusinessWeek.
(And could there be any connection between these new operating costs and the fact that the Bwin-PartyGaming merger rumors just won’t die … ?)
“This opening up of the market may not be as attractive as PartyGaming and Bwin say,” the article quotes a German industry consultant. “Are we really getting more betters, or are we going to get the same clients as before, but now we have to pay taxes on them?”
And it’s not just France, Denmark and Germany creating these waves. Eastern European countries like Estonia are following similar paths, implying that this trend is spreading throughout the entire continent. “The country legalised online gambling earlier this year but stipulated that players could only take part at sites licensed in the nation,” states OnlineCasinoNews.com. “As part of a two-tier strategy designed to implement its new Gambling Act … Estonia has started blocking access to leading online casino and poker sites including PartyPoker.com and PokerStars.com.”
BusinessWeek states that the Internet gambling industry in Europe is the world’s largest, estimating it to be worth about 8.3 billion euros. Bwin (Austria) represents the largest of these brands, followed by PartyGaming (Gibraltar) and William Hill (the U.K.).