European Online Casinos
It wasn’t too long ago that gambling was one of the best kept secrets in European countries. It was legal in some countries, in others it wasn’t but in most cases legislators and law enforcement authorities didn’t find it important enough to address.
With the massive growth of the European online casino and poker industry came the shift in European authorities attitudes towards the subject. The countries legislators discovered the huge potential of the industry, both in terms of the financial benefits it can bring the countries and the negative influence it may have on citizens, when not supervised appropriately.
US Online Gambling
The recent developments in the US and the story of poker room Full Tilt Poker have only highlighted the growing focus that the authorities put on the industry. Internet gambling is not legal in the US since 2006, when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (the UIGEA) was legislated. It came into full effect on June 2010 but still wasn’t enforced.
While most online casinos and poker rooms willingly withdrew their operations from the US, following the UIGEA, some operators continued to work there, thus supplying the American players needs to play on the internet and their need to make millions of dollars. Then came the Black Friday controversies on 15th April, 2011 that saw Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker and Pokerstars seized by the FBI due to a federal investigation into suspected fraud and money-laundering. That was more or less the end of the American internet gambling industry.
European Online Gambling
And now, most European countries are in one stage or another of legislating their internet gambling. They have either completed the legislative process, are now in its midst or are at least considering it.
French Online Casinos
France, for example was one country where offshore online operators were more or less free to serve French players until recent years. Now internet poker and sports betting are legal and legislated in France and only operators with license can serve the French market. These operators are heavily taxed and so the French authorities can enjoy their piece of the internet gaming action.
Italian Online Casino and Poker
Italy was yet another market where off shore operators enjoyed a care free environment. Now, internet casino and poker are also legislated in Italy. Only licensed operators can offer Italian players their services. The AAMS, the legislative Italian authority is very strict in supervising the industry.
UK Online Gambling
Even the UK, where internet gambling has had fewer restrictions than other countries is now considering a tighter regime on off shore operators, in order to better protect UK players.
The Future of Internet Gambling
All in all these are turbulent times in the European online gambling industry. There is no doubt that the future shape of the industry will be totally different from the current one. Whether it will be for the best – the future will tell.