Big changes are afoot in the European online gambling market. Various countries have recently passed new laws regarding the regulation of casino games, which are sure to have a significant effect on the gaming market at large internationally.
Online Gambling Tax Hike in the UK
Firstly, the United Kingdom has announced its plans to increase taxes for remote gambling operators from 15% to 21%. This is likely due to the new reduction of maximum wagers on FOBTs across the country. The limit was reduced from £100 to £2, which means less gambling tax revenue for the United Kingdom’s government. As such, the increase in online casino taxes is meant to make up for this loss.
Many online gambling operators already have plans to distance themselves from the UK’s gambling market, and the news of a tax hike certainly isn’t helping the situation. William Hill is one such operator, who has set its sights on making its way into the newly regulated betting markets in America while teaming up with Mr Green to increase its presence across Europe.
It’s likely that other operators will follow in William Hill’s footsteps. The tax hike will result in losses worth millions, so we’re sure to see several online casinos focusing less on the UK’s gambling market.
Gambling Crackdowns in Albania and Italy
Meanwhile, in Albania, lawmakers are cracking down on gambling. A number of amendments were passed that will take effect by January 1, 2019, which includes the restriction of casino gambling only to five-star hotels and tourist areas. Any existing slot machine halls and gambling venues will have to either relocate or shut down.
When it comes to online gambling, Prime Minister Edi Rama has decided to ban the activity completely. The country already had an online gambling ban in place, but authorities haven’t been enforcing it. Now, the government will be taking action against any unlicensed and illegal online gambling operators that are currently offering their services in Albania.
A similar crackdown has occurred in Italy. While online gambling is legal in the country, there has been an illegal presence of gambling thanks to an organized crime group running online casino games.
The local police recently arrested 68 people suspected to be involved in the operation of an illegal online gambling ring and several other online illegal activities such as money laundering. Goods and cash were seized in countries like Austria, England, Germany and Luxembourg. Assets that were seized included apartments, a football team and about a billion euros.
These are very significant changes to have occurred in such a short while. Over the course of just one week, Italy, Albania and the United Kingdom have really mixed things up – and, before the year is up, we’re sure to see some more interesting developments.