Favorable Changes In Online Gambling In Europe
April 29, 2009

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News coming in from some European countries indicates a thaw in the rigid attitude against legalization and regulation of online gambling. Though it is unlikely that all changes will take place in the near future the turnaround in the view is good news in itself.

The French newspaper Le Monde reported that the liberalization of the French online and land gambling market is expected to take place in 2010. Because of this expectation European online gambling operators like Betclick, Unibet, and Bwin have already launched initiatives to raise their profiles among the French consumers. The French officials are for the moment turning a blind eye to such endeavors. Unibet plans to spend 1 million Euros for sponsoring the Paris Saint-Germain football club and having its name emblazoned on the players’ shirts. Likewise Betclick will be sponsoring the Olympique de Marseille football club and will be the official betting partner for Saint-Etienne. Also Bwin and Unibet are partnering the Le Parisien and Metro publications respectively to promote poker events. The existing state owned gambling monopoly, Francaise des Jeux, is also gearing up for the competition with its own promotional deals that includes sponsoring its own poker team.

In Switzerland offering online gambling is illegal. This has given rise to illegal forms of online gambling. In order to combat that the Justice Ministry has been asked to draft a proposal for licensing and regulating a limited number of Internet gambling operations. Once ready they would follow the regular legislation process like being laid before Parliament and undergoing a public consultation process. Once in force there would be severe penalties on non licensed online gambling operations. As per emanating reports gambling over telephone and via interactive television will be excluded from the proposal. Also the licenses would be issued only to Swiss companies for offering online gambling only to Swiss residents. It is expected that this proposal will generate tax revenues of $22 million per year. The legislation is expected to come into effect in 2012 only.

The best news is perhaps from Denmark. The country, according to reports in the Copenhagen Post, is ready to open its market to international gambling operators. This will bring an end to the 60 year old monopoly of the state owned Danske Spil. The government has taken this decision after tremendous pressure was applied by the European Commission for it to comply with European Union principle of “free movement of goods and services”. This move will benefit the Danish online players since the international competition will bring in cheaper products. Private companies wanting to offer online gambling services will have to pay a licensing fee and will have to comply with the regulations on underage and responsible gambling.

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