Popularity of Online Casinos in 2022—UK vs Europe
- 13 May 2022
The UK has always been at the forefront of promoting safe online gambling. The industry has grown so much that nine out of 20 English Premier League teams wear jerseys sponsored by betting companies.
Betting has a long history in the UK. However, legal iGaming started in 2005. The Gambling Commission started operation in 2007 and since then, the casino industry in Britain has skyrocketed into multi-billion industry.
Is it bigger than the online casino industry in Europe?
The UK—A £7 Billion Industry
Remote gambling is an enormous industry in Britain. Last year, the country generated £6.9 billion from the entire iGaming industry. This was an 18.4% increase compared to the previous year.
There are more than 2,400 online gambling operators in the country. Together, they employ more than 10,000 people and contribute over £2 billion in taxes to the British government.
On the surface, mobile betting doesn’t appear to employ a lot of people in the UK. But that’s because the industry isn’t designed to involve many workers. Remote casinos don’t need hotel workers, security guards and other jobs offered at brick-and-mortar casinos.
With that in mind, online casinos from Britain are some of the most successful operators around the world. The reason is simple. They have already captured one of the biggest gambling markets globally. Secondly, they pioneered the industry, allowing them to capture the European market before other businesses.
Malta is home to many of the best-rated online casinos in Europe. The small island nation first legalized mobile betting in 2004, becoming the first EU nation to do so.
Over time, Malta forged a reputation for hosting safe and reliable online gambling. The country used to compete with Britain in attracting the best remote gambling operators.
After Britain exited the EU in 2020, a lot of casinos previously located in the UK moved to Malta. The explanation was that these casinos struggled to keep employees in Gibraltar and England. Of course, some of them remained in Britain. But others opted to relocate.
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For a long time, online gambling was an unregulated industry in Europe. Casino fans in the country would to play slots, blackjack and roulette at any foreign casinos that accepted them.
In 2018, Sweden introduced a new law aimed at regulating the industry. Known as the Gambling Act, the new law authorized gambling operators from around the world to acquire licenses in Sweden if they wanted to serve Swedish customers.
Some betting companies have since then complied with Swedish authorities by applying for local licenses. But it should be noted that Sweden has no authority over foreign businesses. Due to this, it can’t hold foreign casinos accountable if they don’t apply its licenses.
Online gambling in Finland is legal. But there’s a catch: you can only gamble through a government owned website: Veikkaus. This company has a lot fewer games than foreign casinos.
And that is the reason casinos in Malta loves Finnish players so much. Finnish gambling laws don’t prohibit Finnish citizens from betting through casinos based in Europe and the UK.
As a result, casino players who dislike the services at Veikkaus in Finland can always gamble through foreign operators. The number of people who bet through foreign casinos in Malta is so huge that Veikkaus has been working hard to improve its services to earn their loyalty back.
While the UK embraced remoted betting nearly 20 years ago, Germany resisted the industry at first. In 2021, the country introduced a new treaty amongst its sates, allowing each of them to regulate online casino games.
This also means operators that want to succeed in Germany will need licenses in the states they choose to operate in. So far, not many foreign casinos have succeeded in penetrating the German market.
But there’s good news. Although Germany has strict laws, it does not prosecute its citizens if they bet at foreign casinos. As a result, there are hundreds of Malt and Britain based casinos that accept punters from Deutschland.
Denmark made a landmark decision to regulate online gambling in 2012. Since then, the country of six million has become one of the fastest growing iGaming markets in Europe.
Nearly every casino game is legal in Denmark. And with the introduction of the 2012 act, gamblers from the country can also bet on horse and dog racing. Compared to UK, remote betting in Denmark is a small industry.
Online gambling is legal in Spain. In fact, the country has been following in the footsteps of Britain to popularize the industry, including inviting betting companies to sponsor La Liga teams.
Spain first legalized online gambling in 2011. Under the new laws, casino operators have to get licensed in Spain before their can offer their services in the country.
To be clear, Spain prohibits its citizens from gambling through foreign non-licensed casinos. Due to this, the Spanish betting industry is unlikely to outgrow that of the UK any time soon.
The Rest of Europe
In many European countries, online gambling is accepted. It might not be legal by law. But it’s also not banned. Examples include Belarus, Albania, Faroe Islands and Kosovo. All these countries don’t allow nor ban the industry.
In France, Belgium, Netherlands and Romania, licensing is required before a casino sets up a local office. However, the local laws are not strict about using foreign casinos.
This is the reason gamblers from France, Cyprus and Italy can still gamble through a variety of companies based in Malta or the UK.
A handful of online casinos left the UK market after Brexit. However, the loss hasn’t been large enough to impact the country’s iGaming industry. Compared to Europe, the UK is far ahead in the number of people who gamble online and the revenues collected per year. That said, Malta is fast catching up.