Interview with MEP Jürgen Creutzmann (ALDE, Germany), rapporteur on online gambling
"We expect a European definition of betting fraud"
By Olivier Mirguet in Strasbourg | Wednesday 16 November 2011
The article-by-article vote risked watering down the content of your report, which was partially adopted on 15 November in plenary. Why did you choose this procedure?
It was meant to make the vote more consistent. The controversial points concerned the ownership rights of organisers of sport events, a black list of gambling service providers and the prohibition on providing gambling and games of chance without a national license. After coming to an agreement with the shadow rapporteurs, we considered that the vote by article would give the text a better chance of being approved. For the Socialists, I pointed out that we were not seeking the prohibition or closure of supposedly illegal sites but simply a blockading through legal instruments related to bank account or credit card payment systems.
What do you expect now from the European Commission after the position expressed by Michel Barnier, on 14 November in Strasbourg?
I had a long discussion with Commissioner Michel Barnier about the licensing system that most countries would like to put in place. The European Commission must make a commitment because this is about preventing addiction, protecting youth and even combating crime. It will do so to protect European citizens. We expect a European definition of betting fraud. Michel Barnier was quite precise: no member state can go it alone on regulation policy. Betting operators will be able to maintain or make attractive new offers to their betters. The deadline proposed by Michel Barnier for the Commission's response, mid-2012, seems normal and acceptable.
Germany is trying to defend its monopoly on online gaming and betting. What are your views on this national position?
The Germans should think twice about the position they are trying to defend. The German law will not stand up to a European legal examination. How can we be consistent with single market requirements if we decide in advance to limit the national market to 20 licenced operators? Malta alone has 150! The monopoly is supposed to combat addictions, nothing else.
Is the French monopoly model weakened?
The French work in a bureaucratic framework, which contributes nothing. The professional football league is trying to bring about change. It would like to sell licences at top price, but earnings of online operators relative to their expenditure in taxes and rights of all kinds would become unfavourable if more than 20% of earnings were levied. No one would benefit, starting with the state, whose revenues would collapse since betters would abandon activities that do not pay enough. Operators must maintain a sufficiently high level of income to ensure the security of their online better sites, to combat crime effectively and to pay their employees.