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Barriers for Casino Gaming in EU


Prohibitions and restrictions

In Cyprus, Ireland and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland), the establishment of casinos is entirely prohibited. Austria does not allow its exclusive domestic operator to establish a branch abroad or acquire a qualified participation in a foreign company if such an acquisition would result in a reduction in revenue from the licence fee.

Legislation often specifies a limited list of games allowed to be played in casinos (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, (the license issued to the casino gaming operator must contain a list of games allowed to be played in its casinos) and the United Kingdom (Great Britain)).


Most Member States maintain licensing requirements for casino operators (Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary (in the Concession Contract), Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom (Great Britain)), and this license is often limited in time (Austria (15 years), Belgium (5 years), Denmark (10 years), Estonia (5-10 years), Finland (5 years), France (15-18 years), Germany (usually 10 years), Luxembourg (the Luxembourg authorities must stipulate the period for which the licence remains valid) and the Netherlands (the Dutch authorities must stipulate the period for which the licence remains valid).

Sometimes only a single operator is allowed (Finland –Raha-automaattiyhdistys, the Netherlands –Holland Casino and Sweden –Svenska Spel). This operator may be controlled by the State (which is the case in Finland and Sweden). In particular, in the Netherlands, only the licensee of the casino games can be granted a license to operate slot machines inside its casinos.

Many countries also maintain a numerus clausus system. For example: Austria (12 casinos), Belgium (9 casinos), Italy (4 casinos), The Netherlands (14 casinos), Portugal (8 casinos, 2 more expected in 2006), Slovenia (15 gaming houses), Sweden (6 casinos, though only 4 are operating at the moment), United Kingdom (Great Britain) (under the Gambling Act 2005, 17 new casinos will be permitted to open, in addition to the 137 small casinos currently licensed). In Germany, the numbers vary according to the Land, between 1 and 10.

Specific requirements

Some Member States maintain specific legal requirements as to the type of legal entity entitled to run a casino (the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden). Often, national laws also impose residence or domicile requirements on the operators (Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Spain).

In France, Germany, Luxembourg, Poland and Portugal, casinos can only be operated in specific types of towns or gaming zones. The establishment of new casinos in Belgium, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom (Great Britain) is subject to the prior approval of the local authorities and subject to conditions, thus limiting the operation of casinos de facto to specific “zones” or areas.

In a majority of Member States, the minimum age limit for entering a casino is 18 years (Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom (Great Britain)). In Belgium and Estonia however, the minimum age limit to enter a casino is 21 years and in Sweden it is 20. In Germany, the minimum age varies between 18 and 21, depending on the Land. In Austria, the minimum age for interactive games is 16 and a bank account in Austria is required. In Malta, the minimum age for entry is generally 18 years, however citizens of Malta must be at least 25 years old.


Some Member States (Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands (where advertisements for gambling must comply with a self-regulatory code), Spain, Sweden (Casino Cosmopol is not allowed to implement an aggressive marketing policy) and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)) restrict the advertising of casino gambling services. Advertisement of casino gambling services is entirely prohibited in Portugal.

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