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UK vs Europe: Popularity of Online Casinos

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Online casinos are legal in many countries these days, from the US and Canada to Finland and the UK. However, gambling operators have had to do tremendous lobbying to convince governments that remote betting is good for the economy.

In Europe, nearly all countries in the EU regulate online casinos. Some of them, like Malta, generate a lot of money from this sector. But does any of them come close to the UK in empowering iGaming?

Legality in the UK

If you’re an adult anywhere in the UK, you can gamble online legally. The age requirement is 18 years. Also, you need a debit card, digital wallet like PayPal or bank account to fund your account.

What games can you play at online casinos in the UK? This is the best part of gambling in the country. Almost everything whose outcome is not pre-determined can be wagered at British casinos.

You can play the usual casino games, of course: slots, blackjack, poker, roulette, craps, keno, bingo and lotto games. You can also bet on all major sports. But here’s where it gets interesting.

Some British casinos also let you bet on politics, when the world will end, celebrity award shows and the financial markets.

Legality in Europe

As mentioned, iGaming is now legal in many parts of Europe. Where it’s not regulated yet, laws don’t prohibit people from betting at out of country casinos. Examples include Slovakia, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Iceland and Serbia.

Malta is the hub of online casino regulations in Europe. If you want to find an online casino Europe, therefore, look at operators licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority.

Are online casinos more popular in Malta compared to the UK? Statistically speaking, Malta leads. About 56% of the people in Malta play casino games weekly. That’s more than double the 32% of people who admit they gamble online in the UK.

That said, the population of Malta is much smaller than Britain: 500,000 versus 67.22 million. To put it into perspective, more than 22 million people in Britain play casino games. This is over 40 times the population of Malta.

Online Casino Operators in the UK

In the early days of online gambling, casinos in the UK would set up offices in Malta, and the Isle of Man. Then the Gambling Act of 2005 happened and dozens of betting shops applied for licenses to operate online.

Today, the Gambling Commission reports 2,400 casinos were in operation in 2021. It was an 18% growth rate compared to 2020, a year during which the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to its news.

Online gambling operators in the UK are divided into several categories. There are those that specialize in one product: they can offer sports betting or bingo games. Then there are companies that offer a little bit of everything, slots, bingo, poker and sports betting.

Online Casinos in Europe

In the UK, nearly every online casino requires a license from the Gambling Commission. This is the one thing operators have in common. In Europe, casino websites can be based from any part of the world.

As we mentioned earlier, Malta is the center of all online casino operations in Europe. In other words, many of the top casinos on the continent have licenses from the MGA.

Because every EU country has its own online gambling regulations, European casinos can operate with licenses from Malta, Germany, Norway, Finland or Cyprus. Take note, though, these licenses only work where they were applied.

If a company applies for a license from the Swedish Gambling Authority, it can’t use the license in Spain or Germany. The only exception is if it wants to operate in a country with grey iGaming laws.

Casino Developers in the UK

Many online casinos rely on third party developers to supply them with games. In the UK, casino developers have to get vetted by the UKGC and prove that they provide fair games before they can operate.

Luckily for British casinos, the UK is a lucrative market. And as such, almost every software provider wants to get approval to work in the country. Many of the top-rated developers have licenses to operate in the country. Some of them also have offices in the country:

  • Microgaming
  • NetEnt
  • Play
  • BTG
  • Evolution
  • IGT
  • Betsoft

In the online casino space, the presence of the above-mentioned developers is a sign of quality games. The companies have a history of creating top-notch, high-paying games.

The games include Starburst, Gonzo’s Quest and Twin Spin, all from NetEnt. Then there’s Mega Moolah—the game that won ex-soldier Jon Heywood over 15-million-pound sterling in 2015.

Evolution is revered for pioneering live casino games. Live casino games provide a social experience where you can see and interact with human opponents. The opposite is to play games like poker and blackjack against computer software.

Software Providers in Europe

In Europe, the types of casino games and software providers you come across depend on where you live. In Malta, you can play all types of casinos games from leading software developers.

That’s because a lot of big-name developers have offices in Malta and have been certified by the MGA. In other European countries, you’ll be lucky to find games from leading developers.

Take Norway and Finland, for example. In both countries, online gambling is operated by government owned organizations. These entities don’t have the variety of games you find in the UK and Malta.

With that in mind, Europeans are better off than other parts of the world. In most of Europe, you can access foreign casinos. And this means you can play games from all your favorite developers.


In 2022, the UK is in a league of its own when it comes to licensing online casinos and software developers. It’s so far ahead of Europe that Malta is the only country that gives it competition.

Still, to be clear, many online casinos in Malta also have licenses in the UK. This enables the UK to generate billions of pounds in revenues. And it ensures British casinos can also offer their services to European countries.