How We Choose the Best European Bookmakers
Bonuses and Promotions at European Sports Betting Sites
The European betting market is very competitive and so bookmakers will offer you great chances to earn an edge with free bets and promotions. There are many different types of free bets available, including:
- No deposit – The clue is in the name with these bonuses. You don’t have to stake any of your own money to place a bet, you sign up, claim the offer and get a free bet to have fun with.
- Matched deposits – After you make your first deposit with a European bookmaker, they match the amount to give you more money to play with.
- Risk-free bets – Many European betting sites also offer fantastic risk-free bets. All you have to do is sign up, claim the offer and make your bet. If you lose, your stake is refunded.
Our recommended European bookmakers all offer various free bets, bonuses and promotions for new and existing players. All you need to do is visit your preferred site, sign up and start taking advantage of their offers. We also suggest you check out our regularly updated list of new betting sites for even more welcome bonuses.
European Betting Legislation
As mentioned above, although Europe as a whole is fairly laid back when it comes to online gambling, policies regarding regulation and legality of online gambling vary by country. Below we take a brief look at the legislative landscape in Europe’s major nations;
- United Kingdom – Many of the best betting sites in Europe were founded and run in the UK. Many now base their business in tax havens such as Malta and Gibraltar. Online gambling in the UK is both legal and tax free – there are no restrictions for punters. Furthermore, a few years back the government changed their laws to allow betting firms to advertise on TV and in the press. This led to a big upturn for the betting industry.Although the UK Gambling Commission has tightened regulations in more recent times, on the whole, this is great news for bettors. Licences can be removed if a betting site provides poor service or fails to pay winnings. At SBO.net, we only recommend safe and licensed European betting sites.
- France – France has a long history of gambling. Like many of its European neighbours, gambling in France goes back to ancient times. The roulette wheel is a French invention and so was the addition of queens into a deck of playing cards.Online sports betting was a state-run monopoly in France for a long time, but pressure from the EU forced a revision to the laws. In 2010 the country eventually opened their doors to foreign-based operators.Betting exchanges remain illegal in the country despite opposition from major companies. Recreational bettors are not required to pay tax on online winnings, however those who are classified as a professional gambler are subject to deductions.
- Italy – The liberalisation of online gambling in Italy has been a gradual process, which was ignited in 2003 when a complaint was made against the Italian government on the grounds of infringement.A state-run monopoly was restricting foreign operators from offering their services to Italian clients. In 2009, the law was changed and allowed foreign firms accept Italian players once they received a licence.Like the UK, Italy has a passion for online gambling and it also has strict licencing. In order to receive an Italian betting licence, companies must be able to display a positive 2-year track record.
- Germany – The laws regarding online betting in Germany are confusing, as there is a mix of national laws and more limited state laws. The ‘Interstate Treaty on Gambling’ was implemented by 15 of the 16 German states.The law gave permission for ISP’s to block access to online casinos and other gambling portals and made it illegal for German banks to accept transactions from betting sites. However, this practice was deemed to have violated European law and in 2012 the German betting market was partly liberalised, with private enterprises able to apply for sports betting and lottery licences.The number of licences were initially limited to twenty with a 5% tax imposed on stakes. So far, the German government have been very reluctant to issue licences and have provided stringent requirements for firms to be accepted. We look at it in even more detail here. Despite this, German customers are accepted by the vast majority of online bookmakers who are not licenced in the country, and there are a number of firms who specifically target German citizens.
- Spain – A new law that regulates and licences bookmakers in Spain came into effect in 2012. Since then, over 70 operators have been licenced, and online sports betting and gambling is completely legal in the country. Betting gains in excess of €2,500 are taxable at 20%.Unlike many other countries across Europe, Spain doesn’t have a big tradition of gambling. Compared to countries like the UK and Italy, the amount of people who take part in online sports betting is low.However, Spain is a very passionate sporting nation and has produced international stars in many high-profile sports. Football is especially fruitful for Spain as they boast arguably the world’s top 2 teams, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.
- Sweden – Sports betting is extremely popular in Sweden and it is in principle completely legal. However, as with many other countries, in Sweden, operators must hold a special licence. Initially, the Swedish government only gave out a licence to a state-backed company.The government appeared to be fighting a losing battle though as turnover at the state-backed operator has gone down in recent years, whilst internationally licenced firms have seen a revenue increase from citizens of the Scandinavian country.Football is very popular in Sweden and this is boosted by the profile of world superstar and former Swedish International, Zlatan Ibrahimović. Other popular sports include handball, golf and ice hockey and each is wagered on heavily in Swedish betting markets.
- Greece – Online sports betting and gambling is also freshly legalised in Greece. Greek citizens will pay a flat 10% tax on all online gambling winnings. This means that the Greek Government are set to make huge amounts in tax each year as sports betting and gambling in general is a national pastime.The history of sport in Greece and its role in helping to form the biggest sporting event in the world, the Olympics, should not be underestimated. Now that the online sports betting market is open, many Greeks take advantage and bet on their favourite sports.
- Denmark – Denmark has recently opened its state-run monopoly on internet gambling and has started to allow outside operators who are licenced. However, it is stringent in its approach with bookmakers who are not licenced and has blacklisted many since the changes came into force in 2012.Denmark does not have a reputation for being a sporty nation, neither do Danes have a major history of gambling. However, more Danes than ever are betting on their favourite sports thanks to betting sites in Europe accepting Danish players.
EU legislation is constantly changing, and many countries are in the process of having their online gambling laws changed. European betting sites are also moving quickly, with new operators making themselves available across the continent. Our team has compiled key information about most European countries and their gambling laws. Find your nation and read more here.
Depositing and Withdrawing on European Betting Sites
In such a competitive online market place, and with technology ever improving, the majority of bookmakers offer a plethora of deposit options for their customers. E-wallet services such as Neteller and Skrill are becoming the most popular way for customers to fund their accounts. These e-wallets offer anonymity, security and separation from a day to day bank account.
They also enable bettors to transfer their funds between different bookmakers cheaply and efficiently. Debit/credit cards are also still accepted, but withdrawal times (typically 3-5 days) are off-putting some individuals who want to access their funds faster. Other methods customers can use to deposit money include bank transfers, pre-paid cards, Paypal and vouchers.
Due to licencing across the continent, European bookmakers have to ensure they pay winnings efficiently. Depending on which banking method you use, you could get winnings into your account within hours.
E-wallet services are popular with sports bettors for a reason – both Neteller and Skrill offer cash out periods of up to 24 hours, but often payments are much quicker than that. Our recommended European betting sites all have excellent withdrawal times, so pick your favourite from our table above and start betting on the sports you love today.
The Most Popular Sports at European Betting Sites
As a continent, Europe has a proud history of sporting achievement. Many of the world’s most popular modern sports were invented by Europeans too. This history has created a continent obsessed by sport and every country has its favourites.
Inevitably, a passion for sport also means a passion for sports betting. The most popular sports for European punters include:
- Ice Hockey
- Winter sports
The European bookmakers we recommend offer outstanding odds on these popular sports, plus many more.
European Betting Sites FAQ
Decimal or European odds are the most commonly used across Europe, however in the UK and Ireland, fractional odds are often preferred. All major European bookmakers will give you the chance to choose your favourite method whilst on their site.
Different betting sites allow you to bet in different currencies. Most offer major currencies such as EUR and GBP, however some offer local currencies such as CHF, SEK or RUB.
Definitely. Due to the fact that most the world’s major teams are based in European leagues and compete in the Champions League. It’s also the most popular sport for betting too.