EU poker is legal, and poker in EU will continue to stay legal due to the strong stance that the European comission takes on free trade and gambling in europe. EU Gambling is estimated at a whopping 84.9 billion EUR – making the euro one of the biggest currencies for gambling online – and the market is growing at a rate of 3% year over year.

Even though some countries do not yet uphold the EU laws on betting, legal poker in the EU means that member states are having a hard time restrciting players (especially online) even were gambling is expressly forbidden. Good news for poker players in Europe, though the situation is still not optimal.

Online poker in Europe is upheld by both free trade laws and a firm belief led by the European Comission that members states must protect online gamblers in their jurisdictions. The measures requested by the European Union, ensure online betting security through data duplication and gambling engine tests.

If you’re looking for in-depth gambling analysis per European country, look no further.

Gambling security in the EU

Poker in Europe is legal largely because the European Comission has been able to create such an extensive framework for gambler security. In Europe poker companies must abide by a set of requirements that ensures that their business and technological operations are clean.

Why Gambling is secure in the Eu

  1. Betting companies must register their business with the appropriate governement agency, interest holders in betting businesses must have more or less clean records.
  2. Online gambling sites must submit their software for inspection, all events/gameplay rounds in the software must be random.
  3. Online betting sites must copy all game play records to a local database monitored by local government agencies to ensure that all records are fair and correct.
    These are the big reasons why betting in Europe is more secure than ever, there are quite a few more – many of which we’ll cover further in this article.

European betting legistlation inconsistencies

Even though the European Union is very clear on gambling in Europe, and Europe economic policy is regulated by the Union rather than the states, individual member countries are still allowed to create their own laws and many of those gambling legistlations are at odds with the European Union.

Several European countries have been models of compliance , for example: France, Spain, Italy & Denmark. All of which quickly changed their regulation to allow legal online poker.

Several other countries have recently joined the compliance team by offering legal online poker in 2016: Romania & Switzerland

The biggest member state that still has not yet created a compliant legal framework for betting is of course Germany, one of the biggest gambling markets in the world. Recent news indicates that this will change very soon and we are hopeful for a 2017 with lawful online poker.

Several countries are now in the process of sorting out their betting laws and we expect to see regulated online poker being played in these states soon: Hungary, Portugal, Netherlands, Poland.

European Gambling Law violations

Due to the complicated nature of economic policy-making in the EU, there are several ongoing legal battles taking place between the European Comission as well as private gambling organizations within the continent and non complying member countries in the union who matain gambling regulation that infringes on the EU standard.These legal battle manifest themeselves in two ways:

  1. warnings initiated and issued by the EC to non-complying members
  2. Lawsuits filed by private groups against non-complying member countries

EC gambling regulation infringement notification

Whenever the European Comission feels a member state has breached its ethos on free trade and regulated betting it issues out a warning to the the relevant country to reform its gambling laws. Clean housekeeping on part of the EU means that we can look at the history of these infringmenets and see exactly what the EC has been doing.

2014 infringement notices

EC requests sweden to comply with EU laws – Sweden allows gambling as part of a monopoly in the country. This led to a notice from the EU on october 16, 2014 the EU officially requesting from sweden to justify its restrictions on online betting before the EU court. This is the first step to change

2013 infringement notices

EC requests several members states to comply – on November 20th, 2013 the EU made an official request to several members states to comply with the Eu regulation on betting. The member states required to make this change: Sweden, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.

Many of the countries who received this notice made significant steps to open their borders.

Gambling related court cases in the EU

In total there are 27 court trials related to online gambling that have been held in the European Court since 1994.Of these only two court cases on online gambling have official and final court rulings. 3 Eu betting cases have not yet had any perliminary decision, and the rest are all somewhere in between perliminary and final decision.

Final EU court rulings on gambling

There are two completed gambling lawsuits in the history of online gambling decision making in the EU court. Both are about the right of gambling companies to establish themselves in Norway, in both the private company campe out the clear winner.
Ladbrokes Ltd. v The Government of Norway, Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs and Ministry of Agriculture and Food – you can read the judgement of the case here
EFTA Surveillance Authority v The Kingdom of Norway (gaming machines) – – you can read the judgement of the case here

Open EU court cases on gambling

3 gambling court cases are still being reviewed by the European court.

Stanleybet International Betting Ltd – C-463/13

A case dealing with freedom of establishment in Italy for one of the biggest online betting sites in Europe, the full name of the case is actually: Stanley International Betting Ltd and Stanleybet Malta Ltd v Ministero dell’Economia e delle Finanze and Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli di Stato. The ruling in the case seems to be in favor of stanely bet as the court states: “..principles of equal treatment and efectieness must be interpreted as not precluding national legistlation..”

Dansk Automat Brancheforening – T-601/11

A battle against the introduction in denmark of lower taxes for online gaming than for casinos and amusement arcades. In this court drama we also saw Betfair group take part and the ruling dismissed the case baring an appeal.

Pfleger & Others – C-390/12

Another case of freedom to provide services, this time in Austria. Case is brought by Robert Pfleger and Others. In this case Austria argues that the court has no jurisdication over this decision, an argument that is rejected by the court which then gives a preliminary decision in the spirit of European Law:
Article 56 TFEU must be interpreted as precluding national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, where that legislation does not actually pursue the objective of protecting gamblers or fighting crime and does not genuinely meet the concern to reduce opportunities for gambling or to fight gambling-related crime in a consistent and systematic manner.

Poker regulation progress in Europe

Europe is clearly moving towards more open borders for online poker and gambling. There are very few holdouts left but the general trend is moving towards more open borders. There is even talk in 2016 of France, Italy & Spain combining their markets, so as to improve the conditions of the poker economies that require large numbers of players to support european poker pros.

Online Gambling – Behind the Legistlation

Wherever poker is legal, there are usually a series of mechanisms set in place to safeguard the gambling software from any illegal work by the software provider or European poker website owner – often these are not the same people! We covered the safety mechanisms imposed by the EU briefly before, now we’ll dive a bit deeper into the technological security offered by european gambling laws.
If a website wishes to offer legal gambling online they have to submit the program engine – the piece of code that randomely generates turns – for inspection at an approved gaming lab. The biggest gaming labs in europe are NMI & GLI. The purpose of these companies is to test that the random number generator at the heart of the program is truly random and that no other foul play has been introduced into the software.
Because these private certifying labs can be bribed, bought or otherwise tempered with gambling commisions have been born to certify and monitor the operation of gaming labs and the companies they certify. Every coporate entity tied to gambling is typically registered to one of these gambling comissions. The biggest gambling comissions are: Alderney, Curacao, island of man.

About the European Union

The European Union is composed of 27 member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK
The european economic area includes all Eu member states as well as Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein – meaning that these states benefit from the EU’s single market. Even though Switzerland is neither in the Eu nor an EEA member, Swiss nationals have the same rights as any other single market country.

Poker laws in European countries outside of the European union

Poker laws in Europe that are outside of the European union is even chaotic. Most of the countries that in this list are from eastern europe where neither the currency, nor government, nor way of life is very stable. There are no generalizations here about poker so we encourage you to check out our table below for detailed explanation of the poker regulation in your country.


Table of European poker laws

So bottom line we’re here to help! we’ve collected, and will continue to collect, all poker news related to regulation updates and changes in Europe and we will summarize them all for you in the table below. Slowly but surely more countries are embracing open, and sometimes very loosely regulated poker, a new poker rebirth is coming, will you be ready?

[GET] this table of European poker countries