How We Choose the Best European Betting Sites
At SBO.net, we leave no stone unturned in our search for the best betting sites in Europe.
We have a long list of criteria that each site must satisfy to receive our seal of approval. We check everything from who owns the company and whether the site is licensed in Europe to which currencies are accepted and how many non-English support options are available.
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.
- 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 in France was a state-run monopoly for a long time, but pressure from the EU forced a revision to the laws. In 2010, France eventually opened its 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. Companies must be able to display a positive two-year track record to secure an online betting licence from Italy’s Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM).
- Germany – Online gambling in Germany was restricted to sports betting (legalised through the 2012 State Treaty on Gambling) until 1 July 2021, when the new State Treaty on Gambling 2021 (Glücksspielstaatsvertrag 2021 – GlüStV 2021) came into force. The country’s overhauled gambling regulations paved the way for online casino and poker games to be offered alongside sports betting, but limitations remain. Operators cannot offer betting markets for political events, binaries, player transfers, and more. There is a €1,000 per month deposit limit, and in-play betting options are limited to final result and next goalscorer markets.
- Spain – A new law that regulates and licences betting sites in Spain came into effect in 2012. Since then, countless operators have been licenced, and online sports betting and gambling remains completely legal in the country. Unlike many other countries across Europe, Spain doesn’t have a big tradition of gambling. Compared to countries like France 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 it boasts a successful national team, and La Liga is home to two of world’s top teams in Barcelona and Real Madrid.
- 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 for betting in Sweden include handball, golf and ice hockey.
- Greece – Online sports betting and gambling are legal and regulated in Greece. Both online and land-based operators are overseen by the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC). There is no taxation for the first €100 of net profit of sports betting winnings, but there are three other tax thresholds (2.5% on the amount exceeding €100 up to €200; 5% on the amount exceeding €200 up to €500; and 7.5% on the amount exceeding €500). 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 ended Danske Spil’s gambling monopoly and opened its market to private operators on 1 January 2012. The Danish gambling market is regulated by the Danish Gambling Authority (DGA), whose stringent approach with bookmakers who are not licenced has resulted in countless sites being blacklisted since the changes came into force a decade ago. 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 their bets.
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 country and read more here.
Note – The United Kingdom formally left the EU on 31 January 2020, so check out our guide to the best UK bookmakers if you reside in the UK.
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.
Depositing and Withdrawing on European Betting Sites
In such a competitive online marketplace and with technology ever improving, most bookmakers offer a plethora of deposit options for their customers. E-wallet services such as Skrill and NETELLER 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 for some individuals who want to access their funds faster. Other methods you can use to deposit at European betting sites include bank transfer, 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 Skrill and NETELLER 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
The European bookmakers we recommend offer outstanding odds on these popular sports, plus many more.
Mostly, yes - Europe is home to many countries where online betting is fully legal and many major betting companies operate. Some countries, states and cities prohibit gambling, so please take the time to read about gambling laws in your country before attempting to bet online.
Decimal or European odds are the most commonly used across Europe. For instance, you may see decimal odds of 2.00 on Manchester United to win against Newcastle United. Should you bet €10 and the Red Devils emerge victorious, you will receive €20 (€10 stake + €10 winnings).
The best European betting sites allow you to bet in different currencies. Although euro is the most widely accepted currency at EU betting sites, some offer local currencies such as CHF, SEK or RUB.
Yes! Football is the most popular sport in almost all countries of Europe. Most of the world’s major teams are based in Europeand compete in the UEFA Champions League, an annual football competition contested by top-division European clubs. Football is also the most popular sport for betting in Europe.