Private operators present manifesto to nurture debate
By Sophie Mosca | Friday 20 April 2012
Debate is heating up in the online gambling sector in the run-up to the European Commission’s publication of its action plan, now set for September rather than June. The executive met the national regulators, on 20 April, to encourage them to engage in dialogue and cooperation. Two days earlier, on 18 April, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), which represents the leading private operators, published a manifesto
(1)calling for a European legal framework that permits the development of responsible gambling.
The EU executive plans to ask national regulators to explore ways of cooperating with each other based on the responses to a questionnaire sent out after their meeting in late February (see
Europolitics 4373). An informed source told
Europolitics that “the aim is essentially to create a climate of confidence between regulators, who have misgivings due to their different expectations. This meeting will give us the chance to discuss more concrete subjects after an exploratory airing of views”.
The participants will discuss themes and tools for such administrative cooperation, as well as initiatives taken at both national and European level. They will also delve into subjects related to consumer protection and the problematic aspects of gambling (fraud, integrity of sport, etc), giving special attention to the danger of addiction. After these meetings, a basic code will be put in place setting out the commitments agreed by regulators (or representatives of the capitals that have not appointed regulators).
Meanwhile, private online gambling operators have presented an original contribution to the debate in the form of a manifesto that sums up their demands. “We have issued a call for the introduction of EU rules to ensure adequate consumer protection and transparent and fair licencing conditions for European operators,” explained EGBA Secretary-General Sigrid Ligné. Noting that online gambling continues to grow steadily, the document highlights the dangers of a fragmented market, which creates favourable conditions for fraud and abuse by illegal operators and is detrimental to European consumers.
To reduce these risks, the EGBA presses for effective European coordination and rules that do away with legal uncertainty.
It urges the Commission to play its role as guardian of the treaties by pursuing the infringement proceedings, pending since 2008, against member states that still have legislation that unduly limits access to this market, for example non-transparent licencing procedures or support for dominant positions or monopolies.
The manifesto also calls for enhanced cooperation by member states to set up better supervision of this quintessentially cross-border market and more effective consumer protection, and to simplify administrative procedures for operators. It defends a single licensing procedure recognised by all the member states.
Based on recent research concluding that “only” 1% of online gamblers become addicted to gambling and pointing out that such behaviour is now better understood thanks to the traceability of online activity, the EGBA recommends that member states monitor problem gambling prevention practices more closely with a view to improving practices at European level.
The EGBA also suggests that the EU adopt a common definition of ‘sport fraud’ and develop coordination of means of action involving all players, noting in passing (but without giving the source of its data) that 1.5% of all cases of corruption are betting related and that the risk lies mainly with illegal Asian operators.
“We have issued a call for the introduction of EU rules to ensure adequate consumer protection and transparent and fair licencing conditions for European operators”(1) The document is available at
www.europolitics.info > Search = 312967