International edition
September 23, 2020

It has become the largest market worldwide

Europe gradually legalizes online betting

(Spain).- Europe has become the largest market worldwide for online betting, handling 9,610 million euros last year of the 22,500 million euros that the sector generates annually worldwide, according to H2 Gambling Capital. European governments have not ignored these numbers and have started to liberalize online betting to try to obtain interest through taxes.

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uropean politicians have opposed before this liberalization because they were afraid it could affect in a negative way monopolies of lotteries sponsored by the states and traditional games of chance operators, according to The New York Times. However, as public finances get worse, governments are trying to promote this business and include it in the European digital economy, where it can be regulated and subject to taxes. 

Just four years ago, France, imprisoned high executives of the Austrian Internet betting company Bwin, when they visited the country. But times change: last month it allowed the operation of private companies such as Bwin, allowing them to compete with State-owned bets. Denmark approved a law in June that authorizes a similar change. Greece will present a bill to legalize online games of chance, which are currently banned in the country.

Other countries that are studying the legalization of online games of chance, and the income generated by taxes, are Switzerland, Spain and Germany. All of them follow the UK, which in 2005 became the first great European country in approving online betting together with Italy, which has progressively legalized Internet gaming during the last three years.

The Internet betting activity, which is subject to taxes, could collect thousands of million euros every year, although the exact number is difficult to predict, due to the uncertainty with regards to taxes that could be applied. Instead of remarking the potential economic benefits, European legislators in general name two main arguments not to legalize this business.

One of them is the desire to protect players with gambling problems, banning the entrance to the sites and the other one is the pressure of the European Union, that affirms that some members have been imposing restrictions to online betting sites as a way to protect state betting.

Governments do not mention the money that they would collect with taxes, but analysts say that it is not coincidence that this new boost towards legalization has arrived in a moment in which executives are in a delicate financial situation.

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