You might be surprised to learn that sports betting was not officially legal in Europe until very recently. Back in 2014, the U.K. legalized sports wagering and set the stage for other European nations to follow suit. Since then, the continent has adopted a variety of strategies to regulate and legalize sports betting, each one bearing unique circumstances.
Although there is no exact date, the first instance of legalized sports betting in Europe can be attributed to the U.K.’s 2014 Licensing Act. The following year, other European nations adopted a similar path, with Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands all passing legislation to permit and regulate sports betting.
France Has The Most Progressive Regulation
If there is one nation that can be credited for spearheading the movement to legalize sports betting in Europe, it is France. The French Senate has approved a bill that would make sports betting legal in the country, and the president has said he will sign the legislation into law. The bill is expected to take effect early next year.
The French Senate approved the bill in December of last year with a 26 to 5 vote in favor. The bill made its way through the legislative body after more than 10 years of consideration. The legislation has been approved despite opposition from horse-racing clubs and France’s national football association, which fears the change will hurt the “integrity of competitions.”
The U.K. and France have been at the forefront of sports betting legalization for years. The two countries share a love for football, and many in France support the change believing it will lead to more match days and more betting opportunities. In the U.K., the bookmakers took a back seat to the government, which drafted the legislation and handled negotiations with the EU over regulatory issues. In fact, most bookmakers in the U.K. already operate legally under gaming licenses issued by the government.
The Netherlands Is Another Nation That Has Legalized Sports Betting
The Netherlands is another country that has recently passed legislation to permit and regulate sports betting. The Dutch Gaming Commission was established in 1994 and has been responsible for handling all issues related to sports betting in the country. The organization was instrumental in drafting and vetting the legislation that was eventually passed by Parliament.
Under Dutch law, sports betting is completely legal, provided that the action takes place within the country. However, offshore sports betting is prohibited, as is advertising relating to sports betting and social gambling. As with France, the Dutch betting market is largely controlled by the government-regulated organizations, who have established self-regulatory mechanisms to oversee the industry.
Denmark Has Established The Most Progressive Regulatory Scheme
In Denmark, sports betting is legal but under strict regulation. Much like its European counterparts, Denmark has a long history of supporting football, and most Danes believe that legal sports betting will further the sport’s popularity. In fact, the Danish Elite League, which is the top level of professional football in the country, requires that prospective players declare if they are a ‘sports fan’ and only uses tickets and funds from corporate sponsorships and ticket sales to fund its operations.
Danish law permits sports betting companies to operate legally within the country, provided that they abide by a set of regulations established by the Jutland Racing Union. The association is tasked with ensuring that the integrity of horse racing competitions is maintained, and it has the power to revoke licenses of any company that it deems to be in breach of its regulations.
The U.K. and Denmark are the only two countries in Europe where sports betting is sanctioned and regulated. The two countries share a love for football and a desire to enhance the spread of the game. In both countries, licenses are required from the relevant regulatory bodies in order to operate a sports betting shop.
Spain Has The Most Conservative Regime
In Spain, the process of legalizing sports betting was heavily influenced by its Caribbean region. Like many other parts of Europe, football is popular in Spain, and many casinos and bookmakers have set up shop in the country. However, unlike in France, the Netherlands and Denmark, where sports betting is legal and regulated, Spain has chosen to keep a fairly low profile regarding sports betting. The government has officially discouraged and prohibited betting on sporting events except for those relating to horse racing. The region of Catalonia, which is responsible for regulating and issuing licenses within its territory, recently considered legislation that would have permitted and regulated online sports betting. However, the plan was ultimately shelved due to public outcry and the lack of support from local businesses.
What Is The Post-Pandemic Regulation Of Sports Betting?
Since the start of this year, most European nations have been scrambling to set up measures to contain the spread of the pandemic. Although there are signs that international travel and trade have begun to return, the continent is certainly not at the stage of ‘normality’ that it was before the pandemic.
The current status of sports betting in Europe is anyone’s guess. Several countries have completely closed their borders, while others have adopted a more liberal approach, allowing residents to continue to bet in whatever ways they can. There is no definitive answer at this point, but one thing is for sure: as soon as the world recovers, the demand for sports betting will undoubtedly return.