How to Acquire a Gambling License in Europe

How to Acquire a Gambling License in Europe

Currently, Europe is one of the most promising territories for the gambling business. In this part of the world, both the offline and online segments of the gambling market are growing. For example, the gross revenue from gambling reached £14.5 billion in the UK in 2018. Online companies earned £5.6 billion of that amount.

Every European country, where the gambling business is legal, has its own requirements for the launch of gambling companies and the conduct of games of chance.

What is the gambling licensing procedure in different European countries? Read in our article.

A little bit of history: how gambling was developing in Europe

Games of chance appeared on the territory of Europe many centuries ago. Even the people of ancient Greece and Rome enjoyed gambling. At that time, the range of games was not so great as today. However, local governors were issuing laws to regulate gambling even at that time.

Nowadays, there are different opinions regarding the arrival of the first casino in the world. It is considered that in Europe, the first facility of this kind started accepting visitors in the fourteenth century. It was found in Frankfurt am Main (Germany). The first legal casino was opened in the seventeenth century. The facility was located in Venice on the territory of the church.

first legal casino in Europe

At different times, gambling faced restrictions in Europe. Casinos were closed upon the demand of church or local legislators. For example, Napoleon imposed a ban on gambling houses almost throughout the whole France. Casinos could work only in Paris and cities where mineral water was found.

Gambling business started to develop actively in Europe in the nineteenth century. By the middle of the century, a growing number of countries had lifted bans on gambling. Thanks to that, new gambling houses were opened in different cities. For example, the Monte Carlo Casino was established in Monaco in 1863 and is still functional. Today it is considered to be one of the most reputable gambling houses in the world.

In the twentieth century, the gambling industry made a new breakthrough in its development. In the 1990s, the first online casinos appeared. Since that time, games of chance have been played not only at land-based facilities but also on the Internet.

Gambling business licensing in Europe

You can learn more about setting up, development, and marketing of gambling companies in different countries of the world at Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference, which will take place on December 18. Besides, speakers of the event will discuss the prospects of the gambling business legalization in Ukraine.

Every jurisdiction has requirements for the issuance of gambling licenses. Below you can read about the peculiarities of gambling regulation in five European countries.


Latvia casino

In the Republic of Latvia, the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection regulates gambling activities. This agency issues gambling licenses and even approves managers of gambling facilities.

To acquire a permit for a new casino, the businessperson has to register a stock company in Latvia. Fifty-one percent of shares have to belong to individuals with Latvian citizenship.

There are several types of gambling licenses in the Republic of Latvia. Their cost depends on the type of included games and venue.

The global permit that allows running all types of legal games of chance (including craps, bingo, totes, roulette, card games, etc.) costs €427,000. The license for a gambling parlor or bingo room costs €4,270, for totes and betting €42,690.

Authorities of Latvia make sure that functional online casinos are licensed. Operators that conduct business illegally are added to the blacklist.


Estonia casino

Today both land-based and online casinos are legal in Estonia. The Estonian Tax and Customs Board of the Ministry of Finance acts as a regulator.

Both natural and legal persons can run a gambling business in the country. Natural persons can conduct only games of skill where the outcome of the game depends on player skills and knowledge of rules (for example, poker).

Operators that organize gambling activities are banned from other types of entrepreneurial activity.

To obtain a license, the business owner has to provide evidence of the availability of technical facilities intended for the conduct of gambling. Besides, the regulator sets requirements for registered and joint stock capital.

Today there are two types of gambling licenses in Estonia:

  • The license that gives the business owner the right to organize gambling activities.

  • The license that allows opening gambling facilities.

Documents required to obtain a permit are reviewed only in the case the business owner pays the state fee. Its amount ranges depending on the type of games the operator plans to organize. If the regulator approves the license application, the businessperson has to pay the licensing fee. This sum also depends on the type of activities and ranges from €3,200 to €47,940.

The UK

The UK casino

Today both land-based and online gambling facilities can legally function on the territory of the United Kingdom. Operators have to undergo the licensing procedure if they accept bets from the UK citizens or if their equipment is located on the territory of the country. Besides, they have to pay a 15 percent revenue tax.

The UK Gambling Commission issues gambling licenses, monitors how gambling companies comply with the regulations and applies sanctions to violators.

A standalone division of the Commission – Sports Betting Intelligence Unit – tracks the performance of companies that accept bets on sports events. The National Lottery Commission regulates the British National Lottery.

In the UK, there are the following types of licenses related to the gambling business:

  • personal management license. This document is necessary for every employee of the gambling company responsible for the issues related to gambling operations, financial planning, commercial business development, provision of security, and other functions. The application for this type of license takes around two months to process. Companies with up to three executives do not require to hold this kind of license;

  • operating license. There are several types of this permit. They differ depending on the type of gambling offered by the operator;

  • personal functional license. This permit is issued to dealers, croupiers, pit bosses, casino inspectors, security staff;

  • premises license. Business people that open land-based gambling facilities require this document.

It is important to take into account that there are licenses for land-based and online gambling facilities.

The cost of the license depends on its type, the company’s total revenue, and other factors. For example, a personal management license can cost £370 and the annual licensing fee can range from £1,000 to £155,000.


Bulgaria casino

Both land-based casinos and online gambling platforms are legal in Bulgaria. Gambling companies can legally conduct sports betting, online poker games, provide customers with the possibility to play slot machines, etc.

The State Commission on Gambling acts as the regulator. It issues gambling business licenses, conducts audit procedures, and fulfills other tasks.

Individuals, as well as foreigners, are allowed to set up gambling companies. In order to conduct gambling activities, citizens of foreign countries have to invest $10 million in the country’s economy and create 500 workplaces. Besides, non-residents are allowed to open casinos at their own hotels rated not less than four stars.

Government entities can also conduct gambling activities. Their revenue has to be allocated to the development of sports, healthcare, culture, and other fields. However, governmental premises cannot house gambling operations.

Entrepreneurs involved in the gambling business have to pay a 15 percent revenue tax.

Authorities of Bulgaria monitor whether online operators have a corresponding license. They block access to online casinos that operate illegally and add them to the blacklist.


Rumania casino

Compulsory licensing of land-based gambling business was introduced in Rumania at the legislative level back in 1998. Online gambling was legalized only in 2015. Today operations of gambling companies are regulated by the Romanian National Gambling Office.

The country sets requirements for not only land-based gambling venues but also the design of online casinos. For example, the operator has to specify bet sizes and limits, winnings, etc. in the Rumanian language on the website.

Overall, the country offers three types of gambling licenses:

  • land-based gambling license. This permit is valid within 10 years. Its price ranges from €15,000 to €20,000. The final amount depends on the type of gambling;

  • online gambling license. It is valid within 10 years as well. The sum of the annual licensing fee depends on the income of an online casino. For example, if the total income reaches over €10 million, the operator has to pay €120,000 fee;

  • license for gambling software providers.

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