Will European countries regulate online gambling to pay for Covid-19?

The cost of COVID-19 is expected to be vast across Europe, with countries already worrying about how they will pay for necessary spending during the coronavirus crisis.

European nations have had to take extreme measures to protect millions of people across the continent from losing their jobs in the pandemic, but they will all need to be paid for eventually.

One suggested way for them to pay for COVID-19 has been to regulate online gambling, with some countries in Europe still lagging behind the curve on this important issue.

It was reported by NoDepositKings.com that, “We expect regulation to be pushed through at a much faster speed and countries grapple with the funding gaps left by Covid-19.”

But changing the rules and regulations around Europe promises to be a lot easier said than done, so what is going to happen in the world of online gambling?

UK considering tightening gambling laws

The UK has some of the most liberal gambling laws in Europe, but the changes it is considering bringing in during the coronavirus crisis would constitute a tightening, not a loosening.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is said to want sweeping reforms for gambling in the UK with the country’s last major piece of legislation on the issue, the 2005 Gambling Act, to be overhauled.

Blocks on gambling advertising could be introduced as part of new measures, while the opposition Labour Party has previously called for a ban on football teams featuring gambling brands as their shirt sponsors.

Lord Foster of Bath, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on gambling harm, has said stake limits could be reduced. “Given that we have a third of a million problem gamblers, including 55,000 children, and one gambling-related suicide every day, action is urgently needed,” he said.

As the gross gambling yield of the UK’s gambling industry stands at around £15 billion a year, tighter controls on the industry would presumably result in less money raised by taxation.

Whether or not the UK can afford to push forward with proposals to curb online gambling remains to be seen, with the country heading for a deep recession due to COVID-19.

Germany gambling rules set to change in 2021

Earlier this year, Germany approved major changes to its gambling laws but they were not expected to come into effect until next year.

However, it has been reported that companies breaking rules that will not exist in the coming months are not going to be punished.

Germany’s Third State Treaty on Gambling gave the green light for online gambling in the country, which was previously banned, but the change to the law was not due to COVID-19.

That said, the law change will result in useful revenues being brought into Germany’s national budget at a time where money is likely to be tight as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

There will be strict controls on online gambling in Germany, though, with players not able to bet more than €1 per spin on online slot games. Gambling advertising will also not be allowed late at night, while an individual monthly deposit limit of €1000 will be in place as well.

This deposit limit echoes a similar move from Sweden in the early weeks of the pandemic. In a bid to prevent addiction to online gambling, the country’s government called for a mandatory weekly deposit limit of SEK5,000 and curbs on bonuses for the rest of 2020.

Online gambling revenue in Sweden has dropped during the pandemic, with figures released in September showing gross gambling revenue fell to SEK5.94 billion in the second quarter.

Online gambling back in Latvia after ban

In March, Latvia banned all online gambling as part of the country’s emergency coronavirus bill.

This was expected to be a short-term measure and it proved to be the case with the rules relaxed in June, allowing online gambling operators to restart.

Companies such as Enlabs were angered by the ban and launched a legal challenge against it, while other industry stakeholders in Latvia were also critical of the extreme measures.

The steps taken by Latvia show how European countries have struggled regarding online gambling during the coronavirus crisis.

The desire to balance protecting people from potentially developing addiction with protecting the revenues brought in from online gambling has proven to be difficult.

With the end of the pandemic hopefully nearing, nations may need to rethink their strategies regarding online gambling should there be holes in their budgets that need to be filled.

But with the Netherlands delaying plans to legalise online gambling, the sector remains in flux.

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