Writing for CasinoBeats, Blackcatcard’s CTO, Olegs Cernisevs reflected on a discussion at the CasinoBeats Summit Malta, which placed a closed analysis on the importance of understanding affordability within the evolving igaming landscape across Europe.

The European gambling industry faces a unique set of challenges and opportunities shaped by varying national regulations and political motivations. One of these challenges is the affordability framework, which is becoming increasingly significant.

A distinguished panel of industry experts gathered at the CasinoBeats Summit to discuss critical issues of affordability checks, financial vulnerability and the evolving regulatory landscape within the gambling sector. The panel included Cernisevs, CTO at Blackcatcard; Steve Degiorgi, Director of Gaming Revenue at Enlabs; and Peter Marcus, Former Group Operations Director at Entain. The discussion was moderated by Joe Streeter, editor at CasinoBeats.

Panelists provided diverse perspectives and extensive experience to the discussion. According to speakers, the key reason for the diversity in gambling regulations is the political rationale behind them. For instance, in Spain, the regulatory stance is frequently adjusted, focusing mainly on customer protection. 

In the UK, customer protection and tax revenue are both major drivers. Each country has its own set of priorities and approaches, influenced by its political landscape rather than a unified regulatory framework. This divergence means that achieving a unified approach to igaming regulation among European nations is unlikely, as each country’s regulations are tailored to address specific national concerns.

These factors influence how gambling is permitted and regulated across different countries in Europe, leading to a complex regulatory environment that affects both market operations and customer protection. 

Panelists addressed the evolving regulatory landscape, noting that multiple governments, including those of the UK, Germany and Belgium, are increasingly requiring proof of affordability from gamblers. This regulatory trend aims to ensure that individuals can afford their gambling expenditures without experiencing financial distress. However, the implementation of such measures poses significant challenges, with concerns about privacy and practicality.

An alternative to a strict affordability model can be a focus on financial vulnerability. This concept is gaining traction as a more practical and compassionate approach. It suggests that signs of financial stress should preclude gambling activities, thereby protecting individuals from potential harm. The panelists agreed that this shift represents a more sensible and actionable framework, although implementation remains complex.

The gambling industry is also evolving in response to increased competition for screen time and customer engagement. The traditional model, where a significant portion of revenue came from a small number of high-spending VIP customers, is no longer sustainable. Regulations now encourage a more balanced approach, focusing on retaining a broader base of recreational players who contribute consistently without financial or social harm. This shift towards sustainable growth aligns with regulatory goals, benefiting both operators and customers in the long term.

In the broader context, there is a growing need for harmonized regulations and clear guidelines from policymakers to facilitate compliance and operational efficiency. The industry faces ongoing challenges due to disparate regulations, which can hinder business operations and innovation. For instance, in the UK, recent legislative changes are causing uncertainty as the market awaits further clarity from the UK Gambling Commission.

As Europe grapples with these regulatory complexities, the US market offers a chance to learn from these experiences. Starting fresh, the US can avoid the pitfalls seen in Europe by adopting balanced regulations that promote sustainable growth while ensuring customer protection.

In conclusion, the gambling industry in Europe is at a crossroads, facing significant regulatory and market challenges. However, these challenges also present opportunities for innovation and sustainable growth. By fostering better communication with policymakers and learning from global best practices, the industry can navigate this complex landscape effectively.

Affordability Frameworks: understanding European gambling landscapes