MRGC | Online gambling: European Parliament calls on Commission for hard EU action
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Online gambling: European Parliament calls on Commission for hard EU action

07 Sep Online gambling: European Parliament calls on Commission for hard EU action

Today’s EP vote represents a positive shift in its position to embrace a common approach towards online gambling and also echoes EGBA’s calls to the Commission to pursue infringement cases against national regimes that are not compliant with EU law The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomes the report adopted today by the European Parliament (EP), calling by a clear majority for hard-edged EU-level action in the field of online gambling, starting with a common set of rules for consumer protection.

According to Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of the EGBA: 

This vote constitutes a very welcome shift in the position of the European Parliament and we commend rapporteur Creutzmann for his achievement.

Only two years ago in a previous own-initiative report, the EP favoured the status quo and recommended that the EU leave the regulation of online gambling strictly to the national level. Today’s report acknowledges that, given the cross-border dimension of this growing eCommerce sector, national stand-alone solutions cannot be the way forward, and lists a series of EU actions, including:

  • An framework directive
  • Formalised cooperation between regulators under the supervision of the Commission
  • European standards for operators, consumer protection, advertising and electronic identification.

Importantly, the report also calls for:

  • More efficient national licence application procedures that avoid unnecessary duplication of administrative requirements and controls that have already been verified in another Member State
  • Consistent use of infringement procedures by the Commission to ensure full compliance of Member States’ gambling legislation with EU law.

This vote gives a clear direction to the Commission that is in the process of concluding its Green Paper consultation launched in March 2011 and puts the spotlight back on Commissioner Michel Barnier who is leading the exercise. With the results of his consultation and the conclusions of the Commission’s expert workshops (1) available, Commissioner Barnier has now all of the evidence he needs to take action. Ligné concludes: 

Time is of the essence given that it is precisely now that Member States are pushing ahead and re-regulating their national online gambling markets. Today the Commission has received political support to initiate EU actions. But any EU level action can take years to be adopted and this cannot be a pretext for inaction against Member States that infringe EU law. As the guardian of the Treaties, the Commission must act to curb further fragmentation of the Internal Market by consistently declaring protectionist national regimes to be incompatible with EU law. Yesterday, Michel Barnier confirmed that the Commission would take its responsibilities in this respect so we now expect him to urgently address the new complaints received and the infringement back-log, an area where the Commission has taken no action since 2008.
 – Note to the Editors The last Commission action in the 8 pending gambling infringement cases is from February 2008.

Despite having received several new complaints against national legislation and indeed itself issuing many Detailed Opinions against recent draft laws, the Commission has failed to open any new infringement cases since that date (see http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/services/gambling_en.htm) (1) See http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/services/gambling-workshops_en.htm.

For further information or comment please contact: Sigrid Ligné: +32 2 554 08 90 or +32 479 90 14 60 [email protected] About EGBA The EGBA is an association of leading European gaming and betting operators Bet-at-home.com, BetClic, bwinparty, Digibet, Expekt, Interwetten, and Unibet. EGBA is a Brussels-based non-profit association. It promotes the right of private gaming and betting operators that are regulated and licensed in one Member State to a fair market access throughout the European Union. Online gaming and betting is a fast growing market, but will remain for the next decades a limited part of the overall European gaming market in which the traditional land based offer is expected to grow from € 79.6 Billion GGR in 2009 to € 83 Billion GGR in 2012, thus keeping the lion’s share with 87% of the market. Source: H2 Gambling Capital, April 2010 www.egba.eu