The European Parliament (EP) is calling upon the European Union (EU) to take action, with the goal of ensuring respect for European trade principles, as well as cooperation between various countries‘ gambling regulators. The call to action follows an online gambling report that was drawn up and submitted by Member of European Parliament Ashley Fox, which the EP has decided to adopt.
European Union Takes Recommendations Under Advisement
Fox’s report initially recommended the EU-wide licensing of online operators, but further amendments have since led to the recommendation to continue national authorities to regulate their own countries’ online gambling, yet with more cooperation between countries when it comes to consumer protection and money laundering.
The report also encourages member states of the European Union to share blacklists of operators, and to consider blocking access to illegal websites to help strengthen protection of consumers.
Both trade bodies – the Remote Gambling Association and the European Gaming and Betting Association – each welcomed the Parliamentary decision to adopt the report, yet the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) was critical of the use of wording which was selected to describe online betting operators, stating “that in places it contains unsubstantiated views about the online gambling sector and these appear to have been used to justify the call for unwarranted restrictions on the freedoms normally associated with the Internal Market.”
“Unfortunately, the resolution appears to have been unduly influenced by those members of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee who are opposed to the opening of markets to licensed private sector online gambling companies,” added the RGA. “In doing so they have repeated flawed consumer protection arguments to justify the retention of barriers to market entry.”
Remote Gambling Association Approves
However, the RGA was welcoming of the decision itself, expressing approval towards such attributes of the report as continued infringement proceedings against certain Member States, the promotion of cooperation between regulators on a national scale, further transparency to licensing procedures, and a reduction in unnecessary administrative procedures which can cause burden.
For the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), who were more appeased by the decision, importance was given to delivering on the promises made by European Commissioner Michel Barnier for internal market and services, and to ensure action is taken against EU member states who do not comply with the rules.
“Right at the time when most member states are re-regulating their markets, the risk of no action would not only undermine the work of the European Commission, but create further legal uncertainty for European licensed operators,” said the EGBA in response to the decision of the EP.
“Today’s vote, which is the third report on gambling in the mandate of this European Parliament, highlights once more the growing interest of the EU to take action and responsibility in this area,” said Secretary General of the EGBA Maarten Haijer. “While the report does not call for harmonization of the sector yet, it supports new EU action in many areas such as customer e-verification and improved cross border cooperation. These initiatives are crucial to streamline identification procedures, simplify licensing procedures and remove unnecessary administrative burden for cross-border operatives.”
All in all, it seems that the trade authorities are pleased at the decision to continue to allow nations to regulate their own online gambling industries, and will welcome further cooperation and transparency to procedures in the future, making it easier for them to conduct their business and continue to increase consumer protection.