Top EU Betting Sites

The European Union can be considered a single entity with respect to many economic affairs. That’s thanks to the EU passing economic legislation that applies to each of its 28 member states (which will become 27 after “Brexit”). However, when it comes to sports betting, the EU members remain separate, with each responsible for creating its own legal framework.

As a result, the legality of sports betting, including at online sites, varies from country to country. Below are the top EU betting sites.

Ranking Name Rating Buttons
1
Betway

Betway makes it easy to get started and then keeps you there with its huge selection and numerous ways to bet.

http://www.betway.com

Overall Rating:5
Up to £30 Free Bet
Terms & Conditions Apply
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2
888 Sport

888 Sport is a fun site that makes it easy for the beginner to get started. It also offers enough extras to keep seasoned bettors interested, though some pro-bettors may be turned off.

http://www.888sport.com

Overall Rating:5
3x Winnings on 1st Bet
Terms & Conditions Apply
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3
bet365

bet365 serves millions of bettors around the world - the sheer number of international leagues they cover is unparalleled, among other perks.

http://www.bet365.com

Overall Rating:5
Available
Terms & Conditions Apply
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4
William Hill

A big name that's been in business since 1934 doesn't need flashy promos as long as the service is dialed-in - William Hill is that name.

http://www.williamhill.com

Overall Rating:3
Available
Terms & Conditions Apply
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5
Paddy Power

One of the most popular and esteemed gambling sites in the UK & Ireland, this household name offers some of the largest odds selections in the industry. With over 100 lines per game and a premium live-streaming service, it’s no surprise that Paddy Power dominates the UK sportsbook market.

https://www.paddypower.com

Overall Rating:3
Risk Free £20 bet
Terms & Conditions Apply
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6
Intertops

Established in 1983 and online since 1996, Intertops is one of the old guard when it comes to sports betting. Decent odds and enticing bonuses mean their solid stature in the market is more than deserved.

https://www.intertops.eu

Overall Rating:3
50% up to $200
Terms & Conditions Apply
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7
BetOnline

Their massive maximum bonus size is a real head-turner for bigger bettors but BetOnline offers something for everyone.

https://www.betonline.ag

Overall Rating:5
50% up to $1,000
Terms & Conditions Apply
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8
BetVictor

BetVictor has several decades of sportsbook experience and provide a solid all around product while still offering enticing promos and value-priced odds.

http://www.betvictor.com

Overall Rating:3
£50 Match Bet
Terms & Conditions Apply
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9
BetDSI

BetDSI is like a luxury hotel you can stay at for a bargain price. Their sportsbook has offerings typically only found at the bigger sites, and they offer these at a very good price compared to others.

http://www.betdsi.eu

Overall Rating:3
100% up to $500
Terms & Conditions Apply
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10
SBG Global

Don’t be fooled by SBG’s simple look and small stature; an easily obtainable bonus structure and a wide variety to lines, teasers, and parlays make it a solid option for casual players.

http://www.sbgglobal.eu

Overall Rating:3
30% up to $3,000
Terms & Conditions Apply
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Below, we set out the legal status of online gambling in the four biggest European betting regions: France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

As you will see, each country takes a legalize-and-regulate approach to online sports betting. However, some are much more flexible and liberal with their licensing regime than others, and that seriously impacts the number of legal options available to bettors.

The table below briefly summarizes the situation in each country. The ensuing sections provide more detailed descriptions.

COUNTRY IS ONLINE SPORTS BETTING LEGAL? ARE ONLINE BOOKMAKERS REQUIRED TO HAVE A LICENSE? IS IT SMART/SAFE TO USE AN UNLICENSED SITE? DO ONLINE BETTORS HAVE TO PAY TAX ON WINNINGS?
France Yes Yes No Yes. if over €1,500
Germany Yes Sort of Maybe No
Italy Yes Yes No No
Spain Yes Yes No Yes, if over €2,500

France

Online sports betting is legal but heavily regulated in France. To legally offer sports wagers to French residents, a betting sitemust be licensed by the ARJEL (Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne, which appropriately translates to “Regulatory Authority for Online Games”).

Since the French government places heavy tax burdens on operators, many online sites register in other jurisdictions and yet still try to offer their services to people in France.

Under the current legislative framework, this is considered illegal. Even if an online sportsbook has a license in a foreign jurisdiction, say Gibraltar, it cannot legally provide sports-betting services to the French public without a license from the ARJEL.

This is the case in many areas of the world. However, the French authorities are more proactive in policing it than most, going so far as to block access to certain websites from within France.

[Though] the mere act of placing a bet at an unlicensed sportsbook may not be illegal under French law … using an unlicensed sportsbook still comes with a number of risks.

It should be noted that, like in the US, the mere act of placing a bet at an unlicensed sportsbook may not be illegal under French law. The laws tend to target online betting providers instead of the individual bettors.

However, using an unlicensed sportsbook still comes with a number of risks. You cannot be certain that unlicensed sites will remain accessible from within France. The authorities may take steps to block access and effectively shut-down their presence in the country at any time, since it is operating illegally.

As a result, the safest route for sports bettors in France is to use a licensed sportsbook.
Figuring out which sites are licensed and which are not is straightforward. The ARJEL keeps an updated list of all the licensees on its website: http://www.arjel.fr/-Liste-des-operateurs-agrees-.html.

The ARJEL keeps an updated list of all the licensees on its website.

The site is in French, obviously, but if you are using a web browser like Chrome, you can easily translate the page to English. (While the grammar won’t be perfect, you’ll be able to decipher the essential elements.)

If (when?) your sports-betting efforts prove fruitful in France, be aware that everything over €1,500 must be declared as income and, as such, is taxable. According to rgweek.com, online betting is taxed at around 9%.

Germany

The legal status of online sports betting in Germany is in a state of flux and has been for some time. The German government has long sought to heavily regulate the market and, in 2012, passed an amended Interstate Treaty on Gambling, which prohibited online betting (and online gambling in all its forms) except for those offered by the government or licensed by the regulatory authorities. (This law was actually a relaxation of an earlier law, which didn’t even allow for licenses and effectively created a state monopoly.)

The new law came under siege almost as quickly as it came into effect. Importantly, the EU’s Court of Justice has ruled that the law impermissibly restricts online gambling sites based/licensed in other countries from offering their services to Germans.

[T]he EU’s Court of Justice has ruled that [Germany’s online betting law] impermissibly restricts online sites based/licensed in other countries from offering their services to Germans.

The German government responded by amending the law, but only slightly, and said amendment has not come into force. The amended law would simply increase the number of licenses the government may grant; it would not give foreign sportsbooks carte blanche to operate in Germany. It remains to be seen whether such a law – if it ever comes into force – would be deemed an acceptable restriction by the courts.

What Germany is currently left with is basically a garbage heap of laws pertaining to online sports betting. The laws on the books require sportsbooks to have a license to operate legally, but the laws themselves (and the licensing process they create) have been deemed impermissible by the EU courts.

In practice, a number of foreign-based sports-betting sites continue to operate in Germany (meaning they continue to accept German bettors and continue to be accessible from within Germany’s borders). Unlike in France, where the authorities have taken a hands-on approach to restricting access to unlicensed online operators, the German government does not appear to be actively trying to stop these foreign sportsbooks from operating in Germany, likely because of the state of the existing laws.

As the International Comparative Legal Guides’ 2017 paper on Germany states, “[T]he licensing process for … sports betting licenses … has been held incompatible with EU law … Criminal proceedings have … rarely been initiated. … German enforcement authorities … have been reluctant to enforce gambling law violations, one explanation for this likely being that German gambling regulation has been characterised by legal uncertainty due to it facing severe criticism in light of EU law for years now.

In relation to sports betting … any enforcement action brought against sports betting operators in a situation where an unlawful de facto monopoly persists (as held to be the case in Germany) is incompatible with EU law.”

[I]n the rare instances when [German] authorities do prosecute breaches of gambling legislation, it is the operator that is held liable, not the bettor.

The paper also notes that, in the rare instances when the authorities do prosecute breaches of gambling legislation, it is the operator that is held liable, not the bettor.

The end result is that Germans can feel quite safe – from the state authorities, at least — when it comes to using online betting sites, whether those are licensed in Germany or elsewhere.

Choosing the best and most-secure sportsbook in Germany doesn’t come down to whether it is licensed, but will instead be determined by a multitude of other factors, like:

  • a history of timely payments
  • a reputation for anonymity and security
  • accessible and easy-to-use help sections
  • a wide variety of deposit and withdrawal methods
  • strong customer service representation
  • a broad selection of sports markets to wager on.

Regarding taxation, only winnings from the state-run sites are taxed. Due to the disorganized and muddled legal regime that currently exists, there does not appear to be any process in place for taxing winnings from private online sportsbooks.

Italy

Once upon a time, Italy was like Germany, in that it banned all sports betting apart from state-run sites. Just like Germany, this paradigm was deemed impermissible by the EU and Italy’s sports-betting laws have since changed (way back in 2006).

Now, to operate legally in Italy, gambling sites must obtain a license from the AAMS, the regulatory authority in the country. Those that do not are liable to penalties.

Quite unlike Germany, the regulatory and licensing system created in Italy has been deemed acceptable by the EU’s Court of Justice as it is much less restrictive than the process the German’s attempted to implement. To get a license, a site must simply have a certain rate of turnover (€1.5M over the past two years), have its servers located in an EU member state, meet certain fee and tax obligations, and be “stable” and “reliable.”

When it comes to contraventions of the legal regime, the laws tend to target betting sites instead of bettors, and Italians who wager at unlicensed operators should not fear prosecution by state authorities.

However, the penalties and ramifications that could be levied on an unlicensed sportsbook would be felt by that sportsbook’s users, as well.

According to ICLG.com, “[w]here an operator offers gaming without a license, he could face criminal … and civil charges. The website will be banned and added to a blacklist.”

Hence, any bettors who choose to use an unlicensed sportsbook in Italy risk losing access to that sportsbook from within the country.

[A]ny bettors who choose to use an unlicensed sportsbook in Italy risk losing access to that sportsbook from within the country. … [T]he safe play for Italian bettors is to use a sportsbook that is licensed in Italy.

As a result, the safe play for Italian bettors is to use a sportsbook that is licensed in Italy. Luckily, due to the fairly liberal licensing system (which allows up to 200 licenses), there are a multitude of options which offer competitive odds on the most popular Italian markets, like football, F1, horse racing, tennis, and cycling.

When Italian bettors strike it rich, they get to keep all their hard-won spoils since sports-betting winnings are not subject to taxation in the country.

Spain

Since 2011 when the Spanish Gambling Act was passed, Spain has taken a nationwide legalize-and-regulate approach to online betting, akin to its major European neighbors covered above. To legally provide online betting services to Spanish residents, gambling sites must acquire a license from the relevant regulatory body (the Direccion General de Ordenacion del Juego, or “DGOJ”).

This was bad news for online operators as Spain was previously akin to the Wild West. Despite regulation at the provincial level, it was effectively a lawless land where anything went and online sportsbooks operated with impunity, regardless of location, stability, etc.

While the imposition of a licensing regime has decreased the number of (legal) options available to Spanish bettors, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The regime requires sites to meet certain standards and pay certain fees, which helps ensure that only legitimate sports-betting sites are permitted to operate.

As in Italy and France, it is wise for Spanish bettors to use a licensed site, even though the mere act of placing a bet at an unlicensed site does not appear to be illegal.

Why?

Consider the following from the ICLG:

[i]llegal offline gambling has always been duly prosecuted in Spain. However, [until 2011] Spanish authorities were quite permissive with regards to illegal online gambling operations.” But now, those who breach applicable gambling laws risk “substantial fines [and] the possibility of competent authorities suspending or revoking licenses in case[s] of significant or sustained lack of compliance.

That means online betting sites operating without a license are liable to have their Spanish operations shutdown at any point, which could, in turn, impact users’ ability to access their funds.

Given the diligence with which the authorities have attacked illegal offline gambling, that’s not a risk smart bettors would run.

How can you tell if you are using an illegal site? One requirement of obtaining a license is acquiring a “.es” domain name, such as “Bet365.es” or “WilliamHill.es.” If the URL of the site you are using does not end in “.es” it is likely operating illegally.

However, the converse is not necessarily true: having a “.es” domain does not necessarily mean that a site is licensed in Spain. So Spanish bettors should take steps to verify that their site of choice has the necessary license from the DGOJ to operate in Spain. (To translate that page to English using Google Chrome, follow these steps.)

Lastly, note that, when bettors in Spain win anything over €2,500, it must be declared as income and is taxed accordingly.