Updates On European Online Gambling Scenario

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Updates On European Online Gambling Scenario

May 19, 2009

Europe has always been a mixed bag as far as online gambling is concerned. This is despite the efforts of the European Commission to create a uniform online gambling regime throughout the continent. For example Italy is extremely happy with its decision to legalize and regulate gambling. France is preparing for the event in 2010. Holland is stubbornly holding out.

Italy’s regulatory body, the AAMS, has just released data for the period January 2009 to April 2009. The figures show that the total wagers placed during this period were €17.603 billion, up 10% from the corresponding period last year. The sectors that showed continuous growth were sports betting, online poker and scratch cards wagering. Lotto sales were on the decline. Almost half the wagering came from slot machines. The other important sectors in terms of volume were scratch cards, lotto and sports betting. One of the companies to benefit is the gambling group Lottomatica. Lottomatica holds the license for Italy’s Lotto game, Gratta and Vinci scratch cards and is also expanding its sports betting and online poker products. Lottomatica has said that about 67% of its annual earnings will come from its operations in Italy. Another company to benefit is Snia, which is active in sports betting and runs Italy’s largest horse betting network.

Expecting liberalization of the French online gambling market in January 2010, the state gambling monopoly Francaise des Jeux (FdeJ) is busy entering into agreements that will strengthen its position in the free market regime. Some of the steps taken had been announced earlier and some have just been announced. FdeJ has tied up for online bingo operations with Sweden’s NYX Interactive and for online poker with the US poker software provider Cyberarts. The free online poker is expected to start immediately as is the online bingo site. It is worth noting that NYX has also provided an online bingo platform for Sweden’s own gambling monopoly Svenska Spel.

Meanwhile the Netherlands continues to protect its gambling monopoly by trying to block all avenues of online gambling in the country. It is already facing legal proceedings launched by Betfair and an investigation from the European Commission into non-compliance with European Union treaty requirements. Now the Dutch Minister of Justice, Ernst Hirsch Ballin, has instructed Dutch banks to stop processing payments for online betting services according to reports in the newspaper Telegraaf. The European Commissioner has responded by asking the appropriate department to investigate the matter. Charlie McCreevy, the European Commissioner said, “As far as we are aware, the Netherlands is the only country in Europe to do such a thing.” The Netherlands’ attempts at preventing online gambling are far from successful. A survey conducted in January revealed that the Dutch are spending €450 million a year on ‘illegal’ internet gambling.

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