One of the reasons poker flourished for so many years in Europe was the lack of country-specific regulations, as the European Union generally oversaw the industry as it was regulated in places like Malta, Gibraltar, or the Isle of Man. However, countries eventually split from the global dot-com market in favor of segregated sites, which pushed a lot of professional players out of the game. The UK chose to regulate differently, though even its taxes were so heavy for some smaller poker sites as to drive them out of business. The ones that were able to survive, however, are seeing the benefits of continuing to pursue the UK and broader European markets.
As the laws continue to evolve and the industry overall changes, European players still want to compete at the online poker tables. They will seek out the sites that cater to them and offer the best deals. For many, poker is too much of a passion to let it go that easily.
Legal Happenings in 2018
The UK market is a unique one in that it is strictly regulated but requires no border-driven segregation. The UK Gambling Commission has been regulating sites that cater to UK players for years, but laws became stricter in 2014 when a point-of-consumption tax was levied against licensed operators. Sites that operate in the UK must obtain a license from the UKGC but can still base their servers in other countries and do not need a dot-UK domain.
The broader range of European countries is more complicated. With 50 sovereign countries on the continent, it is only natural that many of them try to regulate online poker differently. And while the European Union has the right to approve gambling laws and ensure they comply with the EU membership codes for open and fair competition, countries can challenge that standard. This has proven to be problematic for Germany and many others trying to finalize and implement online poker laws.
Some countries began to heavily regulate their own online gambling markets individually several years ago, starting with France and Italy, and followed by Spain and Portugal. Those countries required online poker companies to obtain licensing from each country, launch country-specific domains, and fence players off from other countries. The lack of liquidity in those markets prompted some players to leave the game, while the laws damaged dot-com poker sites online. As the years passed, however, these four regulators determined that their markets were too limited and revenue too stagnant. In 2017, they signed an agreement to share online poker liquidity, and the countries and licensed sites have begun to merge in early 2018.
More changes lie ahead for UK and Europe. It is unclear what effects Brexit will have on the UK market, while other European countries still struggle with regulating online poker for their citizens.
Important Aspects of UK/Euro Poker Websites
Players in the UK and the rest of Europe want online poker as it used to be, open and connected to the rest of the world. Some sites do still offer that option, with operators like Bovada leading the way. When Europeans search for online poker sites, they need to know their options are broad, secure, accommodating, and potentially lucrative.
Easiest Banking Option for European and British Players
PayPal is by far the world’s most popular payment method. It’s an e-wallet service, meaning it acts as an interface between your funding sources and online merchants. You can buy anything from air conditioners to clothing to iPods online using PayPal.
Players from most countries can’t use PayPal to deposit to gambling sites. But Europeans are lucky – there are a bunch of top poker sites that accept deposits from players via PayPal in GBP & Euros. So if you’re looking to deposit to a poker room in GBP or Euros, we strongly consider opening up a PayPal account.
All you need to do to get started is to sign up. Then, you’ll need to link a credit card or bank account to your PayPal account. Next, you’ll need to ship funds from your card or account to your PayPal account. And finally, you can deposit on any PayPal accepted poker site.
How to Choose an Online Poker Site Open to Brits and Europeans
The ever-changing European poker market does offer a few options for all players, whether based in the UK or Germany. But to find out if poker sites are open to you, use this checklist.
- Visit the site and try to create an account from your home computer.
- The home page of the site should show a deposit bonus in pounds or euros.
- Check the cashier page for deposit options for UK and EU players.
- Search the help, contact, or FAQ section for information about UK and Europe restrictions.
- Call, email, or live chat with a customer service representative.
- Check our reviews from this page for sites recommended for Europeans.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Does poker liquidity affect sites like Bovada?
Answer: No. Online poker liquidity is going to take place with France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, and only among the regulated sites in those countries. Other sites will not be impacted by those agreements.
Question: How will I know if laws change in my country?
Answer: If a major law goes into effect, our news section will report it. Meanwhile, there may be a message from your online poker site telling you about the change. Players can also check in with a customer service representative from time to time to inquire about potential changes. For the most part, however, sites like Bovada and Ignition will not change their policies about accepting European players.
Question: Can the European Union stop sites from enacting laws?
Answer: The process of countries clearing laws through the European Union is long and tedious, and it often goes before the European Commission and possibly the courts for a final decision. In the case of Germany, the proposed changes have been debated with the EC for many years and seem no closer to a final decision. In addition, not all European countries are members of the EU and not subject to its oversight in such matters.
Question: What regulators are recognized by the European Union?
Answer: There are many regulators that can certify online poker sites. The UK Gambling Commission is the one in the UK, but there are also commissions on the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, and Malta. Others around the world are in Antigua and Curacao. There are no established regulators mandated by the EU.
Question: What are the best ways to deposit for online poker from Europe?
Answer: Online poker sites offer Visa and Mastercard options in nearly every country, but the transaction approvals depend on the banks that issue the cards. Some payment methods like Sofort Banking cater specifically to European countries. One that has become internationally accepted, however, is bitcoin. Players around the world are using cryptocurrencies for online transactions, and sites like Bovada are ready to accept those methods easily.
Question: Do customer service agents speak languages besides English?
Answer: English is the primary language of most online poker customer service departments, but many sites offer representatives who speak other languages, like Deutsch, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. As players continue to populate the online tables from other countries, sites are more likely to accommodate with more language options.