It is no secret that Europe is one of the biggest and most popular iGaming markets in the world. Despite not being the most populated market, it is the one that all companies want to access. Why is it so, and how long will Fortress Europe keep standing, we asked Polish gaming expert Aleksandra Maj (learn about her here).
Maj has been in the online casino industry for over a decade and is considered to be one of the prominent gambling specialists in Eastern Europe. In her career, she has witnessed new regulations, bans, brands trying to operate on the black market, and if anyone knows whether this market will remain as strong as we know it, it’s her.
“Online gaming companies, such as Betmaster Casino, have forced the notoriously slow and complicated European bureaucracy to become more adaptable and aware of online companies, not only in gaming, but in general”, she explains and adds how the majority of countries in Europe, and not only within EU, have some sort of iGaming regulation.
According to the data provided by Statista, gross gaming revenue (GGR) is the highest among the biggest and powerful countries in Europe: Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Spain. The most popular types of gaming are sports betting, casino games, and lottery. Unlike in the USA, Europe never caught up on the poker craze, even though there are many platforms for peer-to-peer poker.
It is expected that by 2023, the European GGR will reach an astonishing 33 billion euros, while the land-based gaming will reach even higher levels – around 78 billion. Still, if you ask our expert, those predictions should definitely be updated: “Predictions that pre-date the Covid pandemic are not necessarily accurate. If multiple lockdowns taught us anything, it is that online industries are more resilient than offline ones and that online casinos provide a more convenient way of gaming. I honestly believe customers recognized this opportunity, and that iGaming will prevail at some point”, says Maj.
She wants to make clear land-based establishments are not going anywhere, as for many people they tend to be a focal point of their lifestyle, and a place where they meet with like-minded companions: “They have been around for so long, it would be childish to say they’ll disappear. But one thing’s for sure, they’ll have to adapt to the new kid on the block – iGaming.”
With Germany and Netherlands joining the ranks of countries with special laws for the online gambling industry, Maj thinks the European market made a full circle and has become as regulated as it can be. Of course, approaches in how certain governments handle this issue, vary immensely.
“On one side, we have countries like Norway that pretty much encourages state monopoly. This market is impenetrable, and all unregulated companies face hefty fines if they try to target Norwegian audience. On the other hand, Malta is providing licenses to all brands who fit the criteria”, explains Maj. However, she admits most countries opt for a more balanced approach.
Aleksandra says that some countries, like the United Kingdom and Sweden, are primarily focused on filling the state budget with fines issued to companies that fail to comply with the license criteria or operate without a license. There are also countries, like Croatia, that simply block all websites that don’t have a local license, regardless of how many international approvals they have.
“Some say Europe is no longer as fun as it used to be. On the contrary, I believe it is finally displaying how serious gaming should be taken. Just think about it. Would you consider it normal that you can offer products of any kind without any control and regulations? If not, why do we expect that the gaming industry to remain unregulated”, she wonders?
Many experts claim how, due to the complexity of the regulatory framework, Europe will soon be forgotten, as more lucrative markets emerge, namely LatAm and African. Maj is not convinced: “Europe, with all its flaws, is an incredibly relevant market for many industries. Most Africans can’t afford to play as frequently as Europeans, and LatAm markets are pretty much at the same level. What sounds good on paper can be a bit hard to achieve in practice.”
She believes Europe is simply too wealthy, compared to other parts of the world, and the wealth is distributed more equally, so more people get to experience this fun pastime. Also, she thinks that regulated markets attract serious companies, who attract serious players willing to spend more. For this reason, Maj predicts European iGaming market is not going anywhere but will stay strong, just a bit more regulated.