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Barriers for Betting in EU


Prohibitions and restrictions

Specific prohibitions and restrictions with respect to betting include:

– General prohibition of betting on non-sports events (Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Portugal)

– Prohibition of bets lodged with bookmakers (Cyprus, France, Luxembourg and the  Netherlands)

– Prohibition of on-line betting or by means of communication technology (Cyprus and the Netherlands (although it is permitted in the Netherlands to use the Internet as a distribution network for bets that are offered in certain shops, ie. those operated by De Lotto, and betting offices, including those operated by Scientific Games Racing. This is considered to constitute e-commerce, not e-gaming)).

– Foreign operators are prohibited from accepting bets by residents of the Member State imposing the prohibition (Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland (in that the Finish Lotteries Act prohibits the sale or supply of tickets for a lottery run without a licence and that a licence can only be granted to a legal entity whose registered office is located in Finland), France (subject to agreements between the PMU and certain foreign operators), Germany (where the unlicensed operation and transmission of bets to unlicensed operators is prohibited, but the subject of much jurisprudential controversy), the Netherlands (unless validly licensed by the Dutch authorities, which however, currently no operator is), Portugal and Spain).

– Restrictions affecting off track betting (Spain (Madrid))


Almost all Member States maintain licensing requirements for betting operators (e.g. Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and may thus limit the number of operators (Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Slovenia). In Spain (Cataluña) there is a numerus clausus of horse racing tracks. Some countries only issue a single licence to operate sports betting games (Denmark -Dansk Tipstjeneste A/S, Finland –Veikkaus Oy, Italy – AAMS, the Netherlands -National Sports Totalizator Foundation, and Sweden –Svenska Spel AB) or horse race betting (Cyprus -Nicosia Racing Club for horserace pool betting, Finland – Fintoto Oy, The Netherlands -Scientific Games, Spain (Madrid) -Zarzuela, and Sweden – ATG), which license may also be limited in time (Denmark (5 years), Estonia (5-10 years), Finland (5 years) and the Netherlands (the Dutch Minister must stipulate the period for which the licence remains valid)). It is foreseen that the current exclusive license to offer pool betting services in respect of horse racing in Great Britain (United Kingdom) will be extended for a further seven years once the Gambling Act 2005 is brought into force.

Other Member States clearly have created a legal monopoly for operating betting on horse racing, either generally or off the racing tracks (Cyprus -Nicosia Race Club in respect of pool betting, Greece -ODIE in respect of pool betting, and Portugal), even if some of these operations do not constitute a monopoly in the economic sense (refer above, point 3.1.4.) In Greece, OPAP has been allocated the legal monopoly right to offer fixed-odds betting services on all kinds of sporting events.

In the United Kingdom (Great Britain), the operators of licensed greyhound racing tracks will effectively retain monopoly rights in respect of pool betting on greyhound racing until the end of 2012.

Specific requirements

Some countries have specific legal requirements as to the type of legal entity entitled to offer betting services (Cyprus, Denmark, Finland and France), or nationality requirements for the operators (Finland and France).

Sometimes, the law imposes residence or domicile requirements on the operators or their agents (the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)). Austria (Lower Austria) and Malta require the operator to run the business from a location in the territory where the betting takes place.

In some cases, the profits must go to charitable and non-profit purposes, rather than into the public purse. This applies in Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands and to the profits of pool betting on horse racing in the United Kingdom (Great Britain).


Sometimes, the advertising of betting services is limited (Estonia, Greece, Germany (where advertisements for unlicensed operators are prohibited) and the Netherlands (where advertisements for all types of gambling must comply with self-regulatory norms)).

© European Union

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