The sports betting scenes from the Old and New worlds (Europe vs. North America, Asia and nowadays Africa) are vastly different, in almost all aspects. The one place they do look the same is sheer size and growth. Both in the US and in Europe, the entire sports betting industry has grown due to the factors we’ve mentioned time and time again – technological advances, globalization, and ease of access.
Asian markets were quick to follow this trend, and nowadays, the biggest difference between betting sites is the importance they give certain sports over others. Americans, of course, favor baseball and American football, while Asians love cricket and horse racing – and, of course, everyone loves football. What do European betting enthusiasts love?
Most Popular Sports In Europe
The first answer is surprisingly easy: they love pretty much everything. Of course, the biggest and most popular option is football, especially due to the huge number of games and the popularity of the sport. Every major or minor European country has at least a few divisions of professional football teams, which account for a enormous number of games every weekend.
After football, Europeans have divided preferences depending on the country we’re speaking about. Tennis is second in most places, except countries from Eastern Europe, where basketball is more popular. Also, horse racing is mostly popular in the UK and not much outside it, while ice hockey is only watched and played seriously in a few countries (Nordics, Czech Republic, Russia). Other sports are less popular, but still take part in the great industry that is European sports betting.
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The number of people who bet on sports in the EU is almost impossible to quantify, but we’re surely speaking about a good few tens of millions. These customers are always looking for the best sportsbook to partner up with, but with so many options lying around, can we really and definitely name a bookmaker as the best in Europe?
That’s surely a hard task, especially since most bookmakers have moved to tax havens such as Gibraltar, to give their customers better odds, fewer taxes, and more freedom. Although picking a winner is impossible, here are a few bookmakers you surely can’t go wrong with:
Bet365 is a global powerhouse in the betting industry and has been the absolute leader in the UK (one of the biggest markets in Europe) for decades. Surely, if so many people have trusted them with their gambling money for so long, they are doing something right. They offer tons of bets for each game and have an extensive selection of sports. Bet365 are regulated all across Europe and accept customers from a wide multitude of countries, with some rare exceptions (Romania being one of them).
Unibet has grown steadily over the years to become one of the most recognizable brands in today’s online betting scene. Their very well-organized website, crisp-clear execution of bets and overall excellent customer support have brought them nothing but fame and success, and we predict they’ll only keep growing. They currently boast with a global client base of over 15 million customers, from all over the world. Their dedication to become regulated in as many countries as possible has certainly paid off, slice lots of their clients come from smaller states.
32Red is another good option in the betting industry, without having the global reach of the other bookmakers we’ve mentioned above. Their client base is currently growing up fast, although they are only regulated in the UK and a few European countries. They clearly know how to make customers stand by them for extended periods of time, which is exactly what we’re all looking for in a bookmaker.
Gambling Laws In European Countries
Of course, there are lots of great betting agencies we haven’t even mentioned here. Due to the size of the industry, you can find at least 4-5 outstanding options to start a betting account within every country, but these aren’t the same brokers over and over again. This is due to regulation issues – some countries have more tight gambling rules than others.
Europe, in general, has a much more relaxed gambling policy than the U.S. or Asia, but there still are significant differences from one country to the other. Some legislation is definitely need to control the levels at which the gaming industry can operate, but if enjoyed responsibly, online sports betting is a largely pleasurable pastime.
The United Kingdom have very few restrictions, and it is actually quite difficult to escape advertising for UK sports betting sites. Without a doubt, the biggest number of options can be found in the United Kingdom, which currently has the most brokers. Although they have moved their headquarters to countries like Malta or Gibraltar, these bookmakers offer legal, tax-free betting for punters. Gambling can be advertised both on TV and other means of marketing, as we can clearly see in almost any game from the English Premier League.
The English Premier League has an ever increasing global presence, and games in this division are incredibly popular with the betting public. Whether it be fans have a small wager on their team while they watch the game, or serious punters having big money wagers on Premier League favourites such as Manchester City and Chelsea FC, the betting turnover on the EPL is second to none.
Spain and Italy have similar rules and require international bookmakers to first receive an exclusive license to operate in these countries. Spain also taxes any winnings larger than €2,500 with by 20%.
In Italy the rules regarding online gambling have been relaxed somewhat in recent years following complaints about Italian legislation back in 2003. Since 2006, online sports betting has been liberalised in Italy and there are now a lot more choices for Italian punters. One of the big draws in this beautiful country is obviously the top level football, and Serie A is the single most popular gambling market for Italian sports bettors.
The Serie A is one of the top football leagues in the whole of Europe and is currently ranked in fourth position by UEFA’s league coefficient. Juventus have dominated Serie A over the past few seasons and have rewarded favourite backers very well indeed over the past few years.
When it comes to sports betting in Spain, the situation is also quite relaxed. Residents of this nation have been able to take part in online gaming for a number of years, but in 2012, new laws were passed which meant a number of bookmakers(casas de apuestas in Spanish) were forced to gain a Spanish licence, or ply their trade elsewhere.
Companies such as Unibet and Pinnacle Sports made the decision to shut their doors to Spanish punters, but there are still a number of reputable firms that accept the business of Spaniards. As you might expect, La Liga is the most sought after of all sports betting choices for the Spanish, and this league also has a massive following throughout the whole of Europe.
Germany probably has the most confusing betting laws, since they are both national and more limited state laws. The German government has issued very few licenses to work inside Germany, which is why citizens of this country are targeted by a large number of international brokers.
The Bundesliga has now overtaken Serie A as the third best league in Europe, and this division is definitely one of the most popular choices with the betting public. FC Bayern Munich are the most successful side in Bundesliga history, and this club are also a dominant force when it comes to the UEFA Champions League. Matches in the Bundesliga are always well attended, and it is actually the number one football league in the world in terms of attendance.
France has only opened its doors to foreign bookmaker after 2010, so the palette isn’t exactly as large as one would hope. Betting exchanges (like Betfair) are still illegal, and the French law also has coined the term of “professional gambler” – who must pay a fraction of his income to the state as tax.
Nordic countries function exactly how you’d expect – extremely liberal, if a bookmaker has a license to function in the country.
Although there are many more particularities and we could go on and on about legal matters, the bottom line is easy: the betting market is becoming more and more relaxed, and the EU as a whole has decided to liberalize the market as much as possible.
It is, of course, a great source of income for each state and a great way to pass the time (and why not, make some money) for private citizens. As much as some people want to encourage the development of the industry as much as possible, things like gambling addictions, improper use of funds and match fixings are a sad part of reality, and must be considered in any debate.
Deposits And Withdrawals
The most popular deposit and withdrawal methods for European betting sites are e-wallets like Paypal, Neteller and Skrill. These payment methods are extremelly trustworthy and most Europe-based bettors preffer e-wallets for their gambling activity.
Of course there are alternative options, too. For example, credit and debit cards, bank transfers and cheques are used by many punters also. Ultimately, bitcoin transactions are getting more and more recognized by punters as an additional option for deposits and withdrawals.
That being said, we hope to have at least given you a glance of the vastness of the European betting scene. It has tens of millions of players which are sought after by thousands of bookmakers, across all the countries of the European Union. These bookmakers face all kinds of challenges, ranging from technological, social and technical to political and legislative. It’s certainly not easy to manage, especially with so many differences between different countries, but that’s what makes the EU so unique – Unity in Diversity.