Gambling regulation throughout the European Union has always been subject to discussion and debate. It is noted that there is no sector-specific legislation and regulation in the field of gambling services harmonised throughout the European member states. The latter are autonomous in the way that they shape their gambling laws and regulations. In fact, one finds numerous regulatory frameworks and methodologies as to how member states regulate gambling.

Notwithstanding this, it is fundamental that member states abide and comply with the fundamental freedoms established under European Treaties. Thus, in view of the agreed upon non-harmonisation of gambling activities at European level, it has been mostly a job entrusted to the Court of Justice to interpret whether national legislation complies with European Union law.

The above is evidenced by the ever-changing regulatory landscape of various countries; The Netherlands have regulated online gaming in October 2021, amendments to the Gambling Tax Act, General State Taxes Act and Adjusting Gambling Tax for Sports Betting Act entered into force, marking the full implementation of the Online Gambling Act and launched the online gambling market in the said jurisdiction.

Sweden on the other hand opened for online gambling operators on January 1, 2019, subject to local licensing. Germany introduced a new Interstate Treaty on Gambling in 2021 dealing also with the same.  Greece has also officially launched its own regulatory framework for the provision of gambling in its jurisdiction, with August 2020 being the month in which the Hellenic Gaming Commission announced that the online gambling and betting regime is officially in operation. The same month was also instrumental for Ukraine, as after an eleven year ban it re-legalised gambling by enacting a new legal framework to cater for the same. 

Notwithstanding the above, there are a few others who still uphold a monopolistic regime towards their gambling regulatory framework whilst others, such as Slovenia, are looking into updating their regulatory framework and provide the possibility of licence attainment in their jurisdiction. One may immediately question what might have led to this wave of regulation within the European Union. 

Whilst any answer to the same might be merely speculative, there is no doubt that regulation is considered to be the way forward. It is only by regulating the market that notions such as responsible gaming, the prevention of money laundering and advertising compliance are dealt and complied with, monitored and enforced.

Regulation does in fact provide an environment where not only the operator is scrutinised and needs to be deemed fit to operate and obtain a gaming licence, but additionally places on the same operator the responsibility to provide a compliant service in terms of the above-mentioned responsible gaming, advertising rules and the prevention of money laundering amongst others.

Malta has always been at the forefront of gaming regulation and has implemented a robust framework to regulate the gambling service provision market on the island. Operators applying for a licence from the Malta Gaming Authority are subject to scrutiny and will have to abide and comply with various pieces of legislation in their service provision. This further solidifies Malta's position as an attractive European hub for licensed operators having at its forefront compliance and regulatory supervision by the Authority.

CSB Group understands that companies vying for various licences in different jurisdictions are faced with the huge task of complying with several regulatory framework. CSB Group has thus been following such changes in European member states very closely to be able to provide its customers base with advice not limited solely to the obtainment of licensing and ongoing compliance in Malta, but also through its network of professionals, coordinate any required assistance in respect of any regulatory compliance in such other jurisdictions.

This article was originally published by SiGMA on the 1st November 2021.

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