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Can You Bet on Sports in Europe?


Can you bet on sports in Europe legally? While the U.S. remains in its infancy regarding legalized sports betting, Europe has a well-oiled system in place.

Today, I am going to talk about sports betting scene in Europe. Precisely, the U.K. You’ll finish this article as an authority on sports betting in Europe among your friends.

You’ll be the expert in the room when someone asks, “Can you bet on sports in Europe?”

European Industry Oversight

Just about any gambling you can imagine is regulated in the European Union.

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to play your favorite games online or visit one of the numerous brick and mortar casinos and betting shops. European gamblers enjoy a wide variety of legal gambling options regardless of their chosen discipline.

Sports betting in Europe is highly regulated by a long list of laws and industry regulations. Much of the oversight comes from the European Betting and Gaming Association.

The EBGA was established by some of the industry leaders in the European gambling scene. Its sole function is to work with government authorities to craft optimal gambling regulations in the EU.

The ESSA oversees all sports betting entities in Europe and ensures that their integrity remains intact. The ESSA can quickly detect any patterns that may indicate a fix on a particular event.

These bodies act as terrific support to the EU’s governing bodies and individual nations within the EU to provide sports bettors a secure and fair market in which to bet.

This oversight is paramount for the gamblers in Europe and shows transparency among the sportsbooks. Sports betting in Europe is a massive industry, doing over $100 billion in business annually.

Betting on the Go

Europe has revolutionized the way sports betting is done in most of the world. In the United States, most sports bettors need to find a sportsbook, often in a different state and physically place their bet in person.

Across Europe, online sportsbooks shot onto the scene much the same way dispensaries flooded Colorado after the state legalized marijuana. In the U.K. alone, online casinos do over $7 billion in business each year.

We are a society that seems continuously tethered to our wireless devices. I have a good friend that is an executive at one of the large mobile providers. He’d always point out that if you’re watching the news and fire is headed your way, 99% of people grab 3 things: their wallet, car keys, and cell phone.

It’s incredibly accurate, and the online sportsbooks know this too. Early on, they developed mobile applications to cash in on our reliance on our phones. Making it as convenient as possible for gamblers to bet from their fingertips has grown a mobile betting culture.

The impact the smartphone revolution has had on the online sportsbooks is undeniable. Many European sportsbooks report over 80% of their business as coming from mobile applications.

The mobile-minded approach in the EU to customer acquisition and product development has undoubtedly paid off.

As the United States enters into a new era of sports betting, it will be imperative for the operators to notice Europe’s model. Mobile betting is no longer the way of the future.

We use our phones almost like a remote control on life. Turning on the lights at home to making sure we record the Dallas Stars’ playoff game. Everything is done from the palm of our hand.

I wouldn’t worry, the casinos and sportsbooks know what’s at stake, and they will be sure to capitalize on every convenience available.

Imagine a time where you’re sitting in your seat for a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans while placing bets on the game without ever having to leave the on-field action.

The Most Popular Sports to Bet on in Europe

The sports scene in Europe is very different in Europe than in the United States. The “Big 4” in the U.S. are football, baseball, basketball, and hockey.

Not one of these popular U.S. sports cracks the top 4 of the favorite sports in Europe. Well, technically, one does, but it’s an entirely different game.

Let’s look at the sports that are among favorites with EU punters.

1- Football (Soccer)

Soccer is the king of all sports in most of the world, and the sport undoubtedly holds the top spot for those betting on sports in Europe.

The Premier League is the pinnacle of professional soccer and draws a fanbase unrivaled in the sports world. Millions of loyal fans pledge allegiance to their favorite team and follow them religiously.

These fans show up to sold-out venues in the rain, sleet, and snow to see their home team take the pitch. Millions of viewers tune in from around the world to watch the matches live.

It comes as no surprise that sports bettors get into the action. Football draws billions of dollars each year to the European sportsbooks.

2- Horse Racing

I absolutely love horse racing, and it turns out Europeans love it just as much or more. Horse racing has a rich tradition in many European countries dating back hundreds of years.

Although the sport has seen it’s market share slip, making way for soccer and tennis. Horse racing draws massive crowds and is in little danger of being supplanted as an odds on favorite for European gamblers.

3- Tennis

Tennis has long been a favorite in Europe. Today’s climate in professional tennis has added to the enthusiasm. Top-ranked men’s players like Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray both hail from European nations.

Live betting has also been a shot of adrenaline to the popularity of betting on tennis in Europe. The ability to place wagers within the match as it unfolds is a feature adored by bettors.

4- Combat Sports

The UFC has made a tremendous impact on the sports betting world. Europeans can’t seem to get enough of Dana White’s marketing masterpiece.

With star-studded PPV events held nearly weekly, there’s plenty of opportunities for bettors to get in all the action they need.

Boxing is another leader in the European sports betting markets. Some of the success boxing has had in Europe lies on the broad exuberant shoulders of one man.

Tyson Fury, “The Gipsy King,” has held all 4 of the major heavyweight belts, and his 2 fights against Deontay Wilder drew a spectacle not seen since another Tyson was wreaking havoc on his foes.

The U.S. Sports Scene

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that many of the sports Europeans are betting on lay across the pond.

The NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL all see action in the European market. Soccer and tennis both have substantially larger market shares than these sports combined.

A significant portion of the bets laid on U.S. sports are parlayed bets, and sportsbooks predominantly market these bets.

Europe’s Forward Leaning Approach on Mental Health

Self-exclusion has become a large piece of the sports betting landscape in Europe. The self-exclusion databases allow problem gamblers to block themselves from all betting sites.

Some states have already put these types of measures in place, including New Jersey. Some of these self-exclusion lists in Europe have tens of thousands of registered gamblers.

By taking this head-on approach to circumventing problem gambling, the countries involved can focus more on rehabilitation and prevention.

Problem gambling is reported as high as 3% in Europe. That means that it’s about half the percentage of gamblers with addiction on the high side than in the U.S.

Keep in mind that the percentage of gamblers that focus solely on sports betting is a small percentage of total gamblers.


You may most assuredly bet on sports in Europe. The European market is quite well established. The United States should take a long look at the regulations and oversight as the market expands.

The long history of sports betting in Europe serves as a fun and familiar entertainment form for millions. Whether they are betting on their favorite football club or placing the action on the U.K.’s own Tyson Fury, sports enthusiasts in Europe have a plethora of options to choose.

In the next 5-10 years, I can only hope that the success of legalized sports betting overseas will be realized in the form of national sports betting in the United States.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for since early 2016. …

View all posts by Michael Stevens

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