EU regulation

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Casino Regulations in the EU 27 Member States – an overview

AUSTRIA

In Austria there is a state monopoly for lotteries and casinos. The country is currently engaged in the process of reforming its gaming laws which could see the gaming device market monopolised. The Federal Minister for Finance has the right to offer only one casino concession (licence to operate) to an applicant based in the European Union or European Economic Area with paid – up capital of at least €22m. The maximum number of casinos allowed under this process is 12. Only one casino licence may be granted per province. The licensee cannot establish a branch abroad. This explains why Casinos Austria AG, the ‘concessionaire’ is a separate entity to Casino Austria International which has realized over 215 casino projects in 35 different countries, including 90 casinos on cruise ships. Visitors must be at least 18 years of age and should be able to show a form of valid identification. The management of the casino is allowed to block any visitor from entering the casino. All employees should have European nationality.

BELGIUM

Belgium has a relatively liberalised casino and betting market open to private operators. Casinos and arcades are only open to visitors over the age of 21. In street locations, only people over the age of 18 can play on the machines. In arcades the maximum hourly loss is limited to 25 EUR; in street locations the maximum hourly loss is limited to 12,50 EUR. All forms of credit are forbidden. Linked jackpots are forbidden. The use of credit cards is forbidden. Cash dispensers are not allowed in the rooms where the machines are operated.

BULGARIA

Private and public operators exist in the Bulgarian gambling sector. A casino or its adjoining buildings cannot house state or municipal property, defence, education or health facilities. Further the casino must be at least 300 metres from educational or military facilities, unless it is located in a hotel of three stars or more (Article 59(7)). A casino needs to have at least five gaming tables, of which at least two need to be roulette tables. Casinos may be open 24 hours a day.If the casino wishes to house slot machines, there can be no fewer than ten such machines. As with gaming halls, all slot machines in a casino are deemed to be operative and it is prohibited to keep inoperative playing devices, on which no excise duty has been paid. The Act lists at Article 60 the requirement of attendants at gambling tables to be appropriately qualified and the legal relationship between the customer and the casino (corporation) is one of a contract, with the attendant performing activities on the basis of this contract.

CYPRUS

As of the writing of this report, casinos are banned in Greek Cyprus under the Law on Betting Houses, Gambling Houses and the Restriction of Gambling. The law makes it a criminal offence to manage, use or permit the use of premises for the playing of casino style games. Section 6 of the gaming law prohibits casinos games including craps and roulette.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Casinos in the Czech Republic are privately operated and state licensed (no limit set).The Ministry of Finance has the exclusive authority to issue licenses for operating a gambling business. Casino licences can be issued for a maximum of ten years.There are certain statutory requirements for a casino operating licence, including:

The casino operation must not disturb the public order.
Proper operation, including of all equipment, is ensured.
Part of the income is donated to public charitable purpose. In order to be eligible for a licence, the applicant company must have a minimum registered capital of 1 million euro, approx.

DENMARK

Casinos in Denmark are privately operated and state-licensed. Licences may be granted for a period of up to ten years and may be subject to conditions. Article 1(3) provides that in determining whether a licence should be granted, the Minister should consider whether the applicant is likely to operate the casino in a responsible manner. A casino licence may be revoked by the Minister of Justice if: the licensee is guilty or a serious or repeated violation(s) of the act and its accompanying regulations; the licensee is convicted of a crime, which carries with it an obvious risk of unsuitability to operate a casino; the licensee is no longer capable of operating the casino in a suitable manner; the casino is a major disturbance of public order. Only people over 18 years of age are permitted in a casino. A customer must be able to register with the casino for self-exclusion. The act also contains quite stringent Know Your Customer (KYC) provisions in chapter 3. Every casino must keep a record of the details of each customer, including name, address, nationality and birth date as well as a video recording of each guest for two months following the visit.

ESTONIA

Casino operators (can be public or private companies) are required to have share capital of at least €1m and hold both an activity licence and an operating permit. Casinos are only allowed to be operated in separate buildings, a hotel/conference/entertainment centre or a shopping centre if entry to the casino is not possible from the shopping centre itself. People under the age of 21 are not allowed to enter or work directly with games of chance in casinos.

FINLAND

In Finland, casinos are completely controlled by the state. The 2002 Act on Gaming permits only one license holder to operate sports betting and lottery games, one license holder to operate off-track betting on horse racing, and one license holder to operate slot machines and casino games, but the Act on Gaming does not permit such products to be offered via remote channels. Due to an excessive amount of complaints from foreign gambling operators to European authorities, Finland is now among nine EU member states whose gambling legislation is under investigation by the European Commission for potentially being over-restrictive with regards to EU free trade laws.

FRANCE

Casinos in France are privately operated and state licensed with limitations. The Casinos Act makes it unlawful to: run a house with games of chance which is open to the public or where the admission is subject to an affiliation; establish or run any kind of game of chance in a public space and advertise an unauthorised house with games of chance. Casinos may only be run in cities or metropolitan areas with a population of at least 500,000. An exception is granted to smaller cities only if that location is a resort or of particular touristic importance. All casino players are required to register (free of charge) before being allowed to play. This measure was implemented in order to restrict access to minors, monitor financial transactions and enforce self-exclusion programs. Permission is given to French casinos to organise poker tournaments.

GERMANY

Some regions (e.g. Lower Saxony) allow private operators to access to the casino market and in that case admit also foreign shareholders; others do not provide for private ownership but for either a mixed private-public ownership (e.g. Schleswig-Holstein, Saarland) or they are completely State held (e.g. Bavaria where casinos are operated as State enterprises). Each state passes its own legislation regarding the types of games it permits in the casinos within its borders. At present there are a total of 84 casinos in Germany (including 36 subsidiaries), around half of which are state-owned and the other half owned by a combination of private and public enterprises. It should be noted that taxes on casino profits – as on all other types of gaming in Germany for that matter – are amongst the highest in Europe. Winnings in Germany are not subject to income tax. Some states such as Baden-Wuerttemberg and Hesse have stipulations as to where casinos can be located. Also in Bavaria, casinos can only be located in communities with state baths, spas or therapeutic baths.

GREECE

Casinos are privately operated and state licensed with many restrictions on games allowed. Access to casinos is only open to persons aged 23 and over and the casino operator has the right to refuse access to anyone without having to justify the decision. Casinos in the country usually charge an entry fee which varies from €6-15 and most can open for 24 hours a day. They are allowed to offer alcohol to patron. Credit-betting is banned. Gambling equipment in casinos must be located so that it can easily be inspected by officers of the Casino Supervisory Committee, the Directorate of Casinos of the Ministry of Development and other government inspection agencies in Greece.

HUNGARY

Hungarian casinos are privately operated and state licensed. Two classes of casino are established: Class I: are casinos which comprise of at least 100 game/or card tables, and a minimum of 1,000 slot machines. Class II: are all other casinos which do not fit under the ‘Class I’ category. Only card/table and slot machine games are allowed. Other types of games or prohibited.

Casinos must only be installed in buildings which are for that exclusive purpose or in a part of a building which is completely enclosed and comprises a separate unit from the other activities in the building.

The casino building must allow for the safe placement of equipment and continuous monitoring of players and equipment.
Casino games must not be offered via communications equipment or networks. Shareholders, executive officers, members of the supervisory board, employees, and relatives of these types of people, cannot gamble in a casino run by the company they belong to.

ITALY

Casinos in Italy are privately operated and state licensed. The only four licensed Italian brick-and-mortar casinos (Venice, San Remo, Saint Vincent and Campione) enjoy a special regulatory status which entitles them to offer full-fledged gambling services without contravening the general gambling ban established in the Criminal Code. Casinos are run by local authorities in the provinces and municipalities in which they are located and under the control of the Ministry of Interior. In particular the opening of the casinos has been due, in part to the historical situation of the localities – being heavily linked to international tourism.

LATVIA

Casinos are privately operated and state licensed (no limit set). They need to be separate rooms or a few interconnected rooms, being equipped for organising slot machine games, roulette, cards, or dibs. If the casino is located in Riga it must operate at least ten gaming tables. For venues outside of Riga this requirement is lowered to five gaming tables. Obligations for casino operators include the presence of employees who are able to provide information as required by law to monitoring authorities, maintenance of site safety, preventing those under 18 years from entry, video surveillance (tapes to be stored for at least seven days), security guards must be from an approved agency and information warning that gambling may create an addiction and where to seek help.

LITHUANIA

Privately operated and state licensed (no limit set). To operate casino gambling, one licence is required, which covers the operation of both category A gaming machines and table games. In addition to this licence, casinos are required to have the consent of the relevant local municipality council. Operators are required to have capital of at least 1 million euro, approximately.

LUXEMBOURG

Casinos are privately operated and state licensed. Unlike with sports betting, where no physical premises are legally required, the 1977 Gaming Act requires that casinos be land-based and established with the intent of promoting tourism. Luxembourg has a clear and absolute ban on slot machines or any other type of gaming machines, save for an exception for casinos.

MALTA

Casinos are privately operated and state licensed. Casino employees be licensed, over the age of 18 and must not have a criminal record. Casino employees are barred from playing in any casino in the country. Section 15 of the Gaming Act provides for a general background check, imposing that anyone involved in ownership or management be “persons of integrity”. Casino licences are valid for 10 years. Proper video monitoring equipment has to be installed and a sufficient number of staff must be present to ensure the casino is “properly conducted”.

NETHERLANDS

Dutch casinos are completely controlled by the state. There are a number of regulations which among other things govern the day-to-day operation of the casinos, their locations, their number, and the minimum and maximum bet. Holland Casino is the sole provider of casino games that is permitted to target the general public. The company is currently operating thirteen branches, which is the maximum number permitted by law.

POLAND

Casinos in Poland are privately operated and state licensed but the government is currently imposing tighter regulations on its gambling sector. The finalised legislation has yet to be approved by the Constitutional Court but has the backing of the Prime Minister and President. The proposed legislation would impose a casino tax rates rising to 50 percent of revenues, and gaming and amusement machines would only be permitted within casinos.

PORTUGAL

The general principle underpinning Portugal’s gambling regulation is that the right to operate games of chance or gambling is reserved to the State. Casinos are defined as establishments in which the State allows for the exploitation of games of chance, through a concession regime, according to established regulatory conditions. Casinos must assure the honesty of the games, the concentration and comfort of the players; and provide high quality tourism.

ROMANIA

Casinos in Romania are privately operated. The minimum requirements for a casino premises include:

The spaces where the gambling tables are located must be organised so that they create a pleasant environment for the participants;

Must provide enough electrical lighting to enable operation and monitoring of the activity; this should be installed so that it does not disturb the participants;

Must be equipped with a electrical safety circuit. Electric lights that switch on in the event of any damage to the main electrical circuit shall be installed at the emergency exit doors; for the purposes of the present Decision, this shall represent the electrical safety lighting circuit.

Must be located and equipped in accordance with the legal provisions for the prevention and extinguishing of fire and comply with the hygienic-sanitary standards in force;

Must provide suitable ambient conditions for the activity to be carried out and not disturb public peace and order, in accordance with the legal provisions in force; Casino employees and operators are prohibited from participating in the gambling games at the casino. Each employee should wear a badge with their name and position.

SLOVAKIA

Privately operated, state licensed (no limit set). A casino is defined as a “gambling house where board games, possibly gambling machines and gambling games are operated by means of technical equipment operated directly by gamblers” are played.”Casino gambling games” are table games in which gamblers play against a casino dealer or against each other at gambling tables; table games are in particular roulette, card games and dice games. Every casino must operate at least five gambling tables. Casino gambling games also include video games, gambling games operated by means of technical devices operated directly by gamblers or via gambling machines.

There are further requirements for casino gambling, which include compliance requirements on the type of gambling chips to be used, distribution of gratuities between casino employees, casino employees being barred from gambling in the casino they work and if in a position of sufficient responsibility, not to gamble at any casino in Slovakia.

SLOVENIA

Privately operated, state licensed (limit of 15). Under the Gaming Act, the Slovenian Government can award a maximum of 15 concessions for casinos and 45 concessions for gaming halls. To date 13 casino concessions have been granted as have 41 gaming hall concessions. There are 246 tables and 3,317 machines in the casinos and 3,377 machines in the gaming halls. Gaming halls in Slovenia were introduced with the 2001 Amendment of the Gaming Act. A gaming hall must have a minimum of 50 and a maximum of 200 slot machines and should be located in an object of tourist infrastructure. There is no restriction on the number of slots in a casino. The Gaming Act requires that a casino must have a particular ownership structure. Apart from legal entities, owned or founded by the Republic of Slovenia, shareholders of a concessionaire can also be (up to 49 % of shares) companies, organised as a “joint-stock” company, which fulfill certain conditions set by the Gaming Act. These joint-stock companies should make income predominantly from the activity of banking, insurance business, tourism, financial brokerage or activity of investment or pension funds.

SPAIN

Privately operated, state licensed. The authority is the relevant autonomous regional government (limited licences, e.g. Canarias, 11 {three in Tenerife, four in Gran Canaria, two in Lanzarote and two in Fuerteventura}). The operation of casinos is allowed by concession, after the opening of a public tender.

Order 9 defines casinos as establishments especially devoted to the offering of games of luck or chance included approved in the official Catalogue of Games. Companies that manage casinos have to provide additional services that may include restaurant services, conference venues and concert halls, amongst other services.

SWEDEN

There is one state licensed operator “Svenska Spel”. The Casinos Act creates a limit of no more than 6 casinos. To operate a casino, a licence is needed and these permits can only be issued to companies that are wholly, directly or indirectly, owned by the state. Roulette, dice, card and similar games are what is meant by the term ‘casino gambling’ with a casino licence covering (in addition to casino games) gaming on cash machines and other gaming machines in section 6 of the Lotteries Act.The Casinos Act sets a minimum age limit for entry into casinos at 20, with proof of identity needing to be shown. There is a prohibition on credit gambling and employees or official of arrangers of casino gambling from participation in games of casinos. Casino’s need to keep records of visitors, which contain: name, personal identification number or other identifying number, and postal address, a photograph and information regarding the time of the visit. The photograph needs to be removed from the record a year at the latest after the information was recorded.

UNITED KINGDOM

Casinos in the UK are privately operated and state licensed. The first three subsections of section 175 of the Gambling Act 2005 contain numerical limitations on the issuance of “premises licenses” for the supply of traditional casino gambling services. Casinos are classified with regard to the floor space, the number of machines and the number of tables they are permitted. They may offer approved casino games, such as roulette and baccarat, and gaming machines. Casinos can also be remote, such as being accessible via the internet. When the equipment for these operations is located in the UK, they must be licensed by the Gambling Commission.

The Commission has produced a number of typical licence conditions for operators of Remote Casinos; Non-Remote Casinos and Ancillary Remote Casinos (for non-remote operators wishing to add a remote element to their operation, for example betting via telephone). There is also a financial robustness licence condition (on casino gaming reserves) which casinos need to comply with.