Finding the best European betting sites is easy if you know where to look. Below, we’ve compiled five top choices from our years ranking and reviewing online sportsbooks.
Start with this list if you’re looking for safe, reliable, and highly enjoyable betting sites or mobile apps in Europe.
The European Union is clearly a single entity with respect to many economic affairs. EU law includes economic regulations that each of the member states must abide by.
However, when it comes to sports betting, EU members remain separate. Each member state is responsible for creating its own legal framework within the guidelines outlined by the union. As a result, the legality of sports betting, including at online sites, varies from country to country.
Find detailed information about sports betting in the biggest European markets below the list of our top 5 EU sports betting sites.
Here are the sports betting apps and online sportsbooks worth a hard look:
Best EU Betting Sites
Betway makes it easy to get started and then keeps you there with its huge selection and numerous ways to bet.Bonus: 100% up to $1,000
888sport offers tons of betting options for new and experienced bettors alike. Find great odds on sporting events from around the globe wherever you’re located.Bonus: $500 Risk-Free Bet
A big name that's been in business since 1934 is relevant as ever with a modern betting app and online sportsbook that features one of the biggest betting menus out there.Bonus: Up to $500 Free Bet
Ladbrokes is one of the oldest sportsbooks in existence and, as such, is one of the most trusted and dependable betting sites around. It won't wow you with sign-up bonuses, but it will provide a wide range of competitive odds, an easy-to-use site, and relatively quick payouts.Bonus: £50 free bet
BetVictor has several decades of sportsbook experience and provide a solid all around product while still offering enticing promos and value-priced odds.Bonus: Bet £5 Get £30
Below, we set out the legal status of online gambling in the four biggest European betting markets: France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Bettors in the UK can see our separate list of the best UK betting sites.
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.
Of course, the level of regulation directly 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?||DO ONLINE BETTORS HAVE TO PAY TAX ON WINNINGS?|
|France||Yes||Yes||Yes, on winnings over €1,500|
|Ireland||Yes||Yes||No, except for”professionals”|
|Netherlands||Yes, with very limited options||Yes||Yes, but it’s withheld by the operator|
|Spain||Yes||Yes||Yes, on winnings over €2,500|
|Sweden||Yes||Yes||No, as long as the sportsbook is licensed in EU|
Online sports betting is legal but heavily regulated in France. To legally offer sports wagers to French residents, a betting site must 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 still try to offer their services to people in France.
Under the current legislative framework, this is considered illegal. Even online sportsbooks that hold a license in a foreign jurisdiction, say Gibraltar, cannot legally provide sports-betting services to the French public without a separate license from the ARJEL.
Compared to other countries around the globe, the French authorities are more proactive in policing the se regulations. They often go so far as to block access to certain sports betting 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 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 remains risky. You cannot be certain that unlicensed sites will remain accessible from within France. Remember that the authorities can (and often do) block access and effectively shut-down their presence in the country at any time. In these cases, you’re likely to lose any funds tied up in your bankroll.
As a result, the safest route for sports bettors in France is to use a licensed sportsbook. Figuring out which sites are licensed 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.)
Choosing from the safe and reliable betting sites on this list is another easy option.
If (when?) your sports-betting efforts prove fruitful in France, everything over €1,500 must be declared as taxable income. According to rgweek.com, online betting is taxed at around 9%.
The legal status of online sports betting in Germany is in a state of flux and has been for some time. Today, there remains a conflict between German and EU law that creates a fair bit of confusion around which sites can legally operate in the country.
The German government has long sought to heavily regulate the market. In 2012, an amended Interstate Treaty on Gambling, prohibited online betting except for that 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 cannot stand under EU regulations because restricts online gambling sites based in other EU 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.
Because of the unresolved conflict between German and EU law, many sports betting sites licensed elsewhere in the EU continue to operate in Germany with relative impunity.
The German government does not appear to be actively trying to stop these foreign sportsbooks from operating in Germany, even collecting VAT from offshore operators.
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 licensed online betting sites, whether the license are from Germany or elsewhere.
The key to identifying a secure and highly rated German sportsbook requires you to consider the following factors:
- History of timely payments
- Reputation for anonymity and security
- Accessible and easy-to-use help sections
- Wide variety of deposit and withdrawal methods
- Strong customer service representation
- Broad selection of sports markets to wager on.
The respective federal states of Germany continue to work on comprehensive reform for online gambling laws. The template for a new treaty setting federal guidelines is currently expected to go into force in mid-2021.
Like most European nations, Ireland regulates online sports betting through a licensing system. The Betting Act of 2015 is the relevant law at the moment. The legislation stipulates that anyone looking to provide bookmaking or betting services to people in Ireland must be granted a license by the Revenue Commissioners, which double as the Irish tax service.
The licensing system in place ensures that only legitimate sportsbooks offer their services to Irish residents.
Under the current legal framework, the officers of the corporation applying for a license must, inter alia, obtain certificates of personal fitness.
Licenses are only granted for two years at a time and, according to the ICLG, one of the factors that the Revenue Commissioners consider during renewal applications is whether the sportsbook has paid its debts.
That’s important, as bettors cannot sue sportsbooks for unpaid debts in Ireland, or vice versa. (Gambling debts are generally unenforceable.) The licensing system provides an impetus for sportsbooks to operate on the up-and-up.
As with most countries, the penalties for unlicensed sports betting fall almost exclusively on the operators. But Irish punters are well-advised to stick to licensed books, nonetheless. If an online betting site is offering its services to Irish bettors without a license, the reasoning behind that decision is sure to raise red flags.
Unlicensed sites either do not want to pay the €10,000 license fee, do not want to pay the applicable tax, or have had an application declined. All of these issues suggest serious questions about such a sportsbook’s legitimacy and financial health.
When it comes to taxation on gambling winnings, the average Irish better can rest easy. Only professionals have to pay tax on their betting profits.
Who qualifies as a “pro”? That’s for the Revenue Commissioners and the courts to determine. Generally, it depends on how much a person bets, their level of expertise, and whether or not they have another job.
Italy once banned all sports betting apart from state-run sites. Just like in Germany, this paradigm was deemed impermissible by the EU, and Italy’s sports-betting laws changed accordingly 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. 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, any penalties and ramifications that levied on an unlicensed sportsbook are 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. You stand to lose any funds you have on deposit when the site is blacklisted.
[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 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. Sports betting winnings are not subject to taxation in the country.
The usually liberal lawmakers in the Netherlands surprisingly have a very conservative approach to online sports betting.
At present, online sports betting is illegal in the Netherlands except at the sites run by the government-controlled De Lotto corporation. A new licensing regime for privately-operated online sportsbooks is not expected to take effect until mid-2021.
Despite the strict regulations currently in place, some foreign sportsbooks still offer their services to Dutch bettors. However, the regulatory authority in the Netherlands (the Kansspelautoriteit ) takes a hands-on approach to punishing offenders and has levied heavy fines on many of these sites.
What’s more, operators who wish to apply for a proper license in the coming years must not have offered their services to Dutch bettors within the past two years.
As a result, many online sportsbooks have done away with their Dutch-language options (etc.) and there are comparatively few online betting sites that cater to Dutch customers.
While prosecution of those who bet at such sites is not a big concern, the potential for Dutch bettors to lose easy access to their bankroll is high when it comes to using unlicensed offshore sportsbooks. You don’t want to sign up with a site and then have it block Dutch IP addresses the next week.
The new legal regime will allow foreign-based sportsbooks to obtain licenses and, in turn, offer their services to Dutch bettors.
The good news is that the situation in the Netherlands is scheduled to change very soon. A new online gambling bill, the Remote Gambling Act, was approved in February 2019. The new legal regime will allow foreign-based sportsbooks to obtain licenses and, in turn, offer their services to Dutch bettors by mid-2021.
This will undoubtedly improve the betting market in the Netherlands by increasing competition for customers. Up to this point, the government-run entities were unchallenged and had little reason to improve their product or their odds.
In terms of taxation, Dutch bettors have to pay tax at a rate or 29% of their winnings (over and above €449). But according to Alan Littler of Kalff Katz & Franssen Attorneys at Law, “While participants are liable for the tax due on a prize, providers are required to withhold the relevant amount when paying out the prize.”
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 some online operators, as Spain was previously akin to the Wild West. Despite regulation at the provincial level, it was effectively a lawless land where 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.
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.
The Swedish government exercises strict control over the online sports betting industry.
In theory, any corporation can obtain a license to offer online betting products to people in Sweden. But, in practice, only one entity has been granted a license, and that’s the government-run Svenska Spel.
As in most jurisdictions with thick bureaucratic barriers-to-entry, many offshore sportsbooks offer their services to people in Sweden without a license. Unlike in places such as Ireland (where licenses are readily obtainable), the fact that a site is available to Swedes without a Swedish license does not necessarily imply anything nefarious (beyond the fact that it’s willing to operate in a legal grey area). Operating without a license is the only choice most operators currently have.
That doesn’t mean Swedish bettors should sign up with the first site they find. There are both quality sportsbooks and extremely shady ones available to Swedes, and doing background research is essential to picking a safe, secure, reliable site that caters to your specific preferences.
In some ways, the situation in Sweden is akin to that in the Netherlands. However, the Dutch regulatory body takes a more hands-on approach to punishing unlicensed sportsbooks. According to a paper by Erik Ullberg et al. in The Law Reviews, Swedish authorities are more inclined to go after the Swedish-based companies that aid unlicensed sportsbooks than the sportsbooks themselves:
As the authorities do not have jurisdiction over the offshore gambling operators, they have instead focused on those in Sweden who carry advertisements for such companies.
The result is that Swedish bettors who sign up at unlicensed offshore sportsbooks are not putting their bankroll at any real risk, unlike their counterparts in the Netherlands, as long as they have chosen a site that is otherwise reputable.
Successful sports bettors in Sweden do not have to pay tax on their winnings, either, as long as they are using a site that is licensed somewhere in the EU.