Governments are often encouraged to explore the option of prohibition of gaming because they are lobbied by monopolies that wish to avoid competition, or by those who are opposed, in principle, to any form of legalized gambling.

In spite of the recent proposals for free movement of gaming services within the European Union (EU), the reality is that online gaming operators continue to face prohibitions, constraints and conditions in many EU Member States. Most Member States have established exclusive monopolies so that only a single entity in the respective Member State is legally authorised to offer a particular type of gaming service. None of the legal battles fought before the European Court of Justice by certain operators against national monopolies have achieved much success.

Currently some of the EU Member States are adopting an approach requiring a remote gaming operator to have a licence in each EU jurisdiction in which the operator wishes to offer its games. This approach is accepted by the European Commission, however, it does not comply with basic EU law principles.

Most Member States are now working on developing their own regulations. The UK is in the process of introducing legislation where online operators currently licensed outside the UK will have to apply for a licence from the UK Gambling Commission if they wish to advertise their gaming services. Although Italy has successfully completed its regulation, it is not clear on what basis and what tax rate this regulation will come into force. Germany is working on abolishing the severe online gambling restrictions, and in France new gaming legislation has been introduced in order to legalize and regulate remote gaming, but which seem to make it extremely difficult for gaming operators to get a remote gaming licence.

Denitza Dimitrova