Gambling 2020: Major events in Europe
The global pandemic has significantly contributed to the popularity of online gambling. The players` focus has shifted from offline establishments to online casinos. This is why the authorities of some countries became more interested in regulating such activities and introduced changes. This article will guide the AUSSIELEGITCASINOS readers through the gambling industry of Europe in 2020. Enjoy!
Closer to the end of spring 2020, news emerged that Germany planned to adopt a new law about gambling. The new conditions for gambling operators were submitted to the European Commission for review. The changes were scheduled to get rolled out in July 2020; however, the operators did not agree with the conditions, claiming the novations would not bring the German government desired results.
Eventually, the law discussion was prolonged for some time, and already in autumn, the availability of temporary permits for online casinos was announced in 16 federal states. The temporary conditions stipulated that online casino representatives could operate under the current rules until the final law comes into force. Gambling operators could operate until July 2021, when the new online casino regulation was expected to be approved.
Later that year, and specifically in December, several federal states, including Berlin, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Bavaria have moved forward and proposed to tax online casino gaming, well before a federal law could come into effect. The tax rates proposed were 8% for slot machines and 5.3% for poker. The opinion of gambling operators turned out to be quite expected: they believed that such percentages would lead to customer outflow.
Despite these, perhaps, way too early early steps, the 16 remaining states are still working on new gambling law, with the final decision to be made on 1 July, when the launch of online gambling for German residents is expected country-wide.
2020 was the first year for Lithuania when casino profits gained from online operations surpassed such from offline establishments, although the overall figure still sagged. The experts’ version of this is (spoiler: no, not coronavirus) that online casino margins are lower compared to those of land-based establishments. Another equally important event for the Lithuanian gambling industry is that Lithuanian operators have signed a pretty important contract with the provider Ezugi, a part of popular Evolution Gaming. Ezugi was founded in 2012 and Evolution Gaming in 2006. The latter is a provider of live dealer table games software. Before Lithuania, specifically in the summer of 2020, Ezugi also started its operations in 3 other jurisdictions: the Isle of Man, Estonia, and Bulgaria.
Simultaneously with the growth of online gambling popularity in Lithuania, locals seemed to develop a quite negative attitude towards online casino advertisement, according to a survey recently conducted by the Lithuanian Gambling Supervision Authority. Besides, the results indicate an increase in the number of players. In 2019 the figure was approaching 38% and in 2020 it increased to 41%. Survey results also include statistical data on the number of players who prefer slots: in 2019 the figure was almost 33%, whereas in 2020 it has hit 47%, – a mind-blowing 40% increase.
Belgium and Greece
In 2020 the long-awaited jurisdictions of Belgium and Greece actively followed the international market trends.
Although the history of gambling in Belgium can be traced back to the beginning of the century, the government announced online casinos’ legalisation only recently. This delay has led to a serious increase in the number of illegal operators in recent years, which was also the reason for establishing a special agency that would deal with such “problematic” industry representatives.
As for Greece, a new law targeting online casinos with a random number generation games states that spins must not exceed 3 seconds. This condition does not apply to poker. In October, some gambling operators in Greece began the application process for licences that also cover online gambling.
The recovery of the betting business in Portugal has had a positive impact on online gambling companies’ profits. Online casinos` revenue increased by almost 50%, which is in the range of €41 million. If to compare this figure with the one of the second quarter of 2020, which was almost €48 million, the total income has dropped by nearly 13%. As for the online casinos` annual profitability figure, it was down by 10%.
If to look at the online casino gambling statistics, the Portuguese players choose the following categories: 70% go for slot machines, 13.8% for roulette, 6.1% for blackjack, 4.8% for cash poker, and 1.9% choose tournaments. The wider range of data also suggests that 45% choose sports betting and 33.3% online casinos. At the same time, 22% of all the users prefer both casino and sports betting.
2020 in Russia is to be remembered as the government really struggled with online gambling operators. In the course of the confrontation, the Central Bank even revoked the licences of two banking institutions. The reason was their cooperation with online gambling operators working in Russia illegally.
In 2020 Belarus launched the country’s first online casino. This happened on 1 April, whereas the online casino operations were legalised a year earlier – in spring of 2019. Even though many active local players still joke about that in disbelief, the fact remains a fact. According to one reputable news outlet in Belarus, the newly opened online casino games are provided by leading international developers. The software of the new Belarusian online casino has been certified by international and local independent research companies. The Belarusian Minister of Taxes and Levies has earlier delivered a speech on the matter, reassuring that several more online casinos were planned to be opened in 2020; however, only one is working now, as pandemic and political problems in the country have led to a delay with the other two.
An even more striking change has occurred in Ukraine, wherein in the late summer of 2020, the new president advocated the legalization of casinos, including on the internet. Rules and conditions for gambling operators were put forward towards the end of 2020, but the established commission issued not a single license. According to experts, the legalization of the gambling industry in Ukraine will replenish the country’s budget through tax deductions. Gambling industry association BGC suggests that the state budget revenue could be higher if some amendments were made to the law. BGC representatives also that the requirements for representatives of the gambling industry are too high. According to the calculations of H2 Gambling Capital, the corrections to the law will allow the Ukrainian budget to receive an additional €96m, while currently, the government plans to get only about UAH 7.5bn for licenses (approx. €220m). Despite the significant difference, the amendments have not yet been approved by the parliament.
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