Unlike in the US, online gambling in Europe is legal. It must be noted that gambling is deeply rooted in most European cultures and it is simply impossible to outlaw the same. As a matter of fact, most gambling games have their roots in Europe. Such games as Craps, Baccarat, Poker, Blackjack, Bingo and Roulette amongst others are all traced to Europe. From official 2008 figures, the legality of online gambling in Europe has given rise to almost 15,000 websites that bring in revenues totaling to about 6 billion Euros annually. Both the number of gambling websites and revenues are expected to increase over the next few years as more players enter the industry.
There is no doubt that demand for online gambling service in Europe will continue to grow over the coming years. Even so, demand differs from one country to another. Because of its advanced e-commerce market, the UK is currently leading with millions of citizens involved in online gambling activities. Germany comes second and is closely followed by such other countries as France, Sweden and Italy.
Each country in Europe has traditionally enacted its own gambling laws. Although enactment of such legislations is still on-going, the formation of European Union somehow changed how online gambling activities are undertaken in all member states. The EU has put in place gambling legislations that literally open markets that were previously a preserve of companies that were registered in specific countries. This has however not been without any challenges as some countries still enact laws to protect their gambling companies. Another serious challenge that EU faces is and has to deal with is the attempt by international gambling companies registered in non-member states attempting to penetrate the European market.
Online gambling in Europe is officially offered by two category of operators; Licensed private and state-owned operators. These are the operators who operate within the law as established. The continued growth of the industry in Europe has also brought up a serious challenge that the individual member states and the EU must address. Of the 15,000 registered gambling websites, only 15% are licensed to offer gambling services. This literally means that a good number of European citizens are highly susceptible to fraud when gambling online. Still, there are operators who attempt to operate in a section of the European market of in which they are not licensed to operate in.
In order to address the serious challenges particular to protect the interest of European citizens who indulge in online gambling, the EU through its relevant commission has embarked on a campaign to obtain public opinion so as to develop appropriate laws and regulations.