The European Commission is to unveil its long-awaited action plan for online gambling on 24 October.
The EC said its planned initiatives and actions in the area of online gambling, originally scheduled to be published last month, were aimed at “building a better framework for online gambling services in the EU.”
The EC’s action plan follows last year’s Green Paper consultation into the current state of play and the different regulatory approaches applied to online gambling across the EU, which ran from late March until the end of July. Stakeholders were invited to comment on four broad issues: the definition and organisation of gambling services, related services, public interest objectives and enforcement.
Announcing the publication of the forthcoming report on Friday, the EC said that while all Member States essentially had the same goals when developing regulations, including consumer protection, combatting fraud and ensuring the integrity of sports and betting, it had concluded that “in an online environment it is virtually impossible for Member States to address these objectives individually.”
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier announced in June at the European Parliament that the Commission would be reopening pending infringement proceedings against Member States whose gambling regulation is in violation of EU law. There are 9 pending infringement procedures and around 30 new complaints against the gambling regulation of 12 different Member States since the EC parked its investigations into infringements back in 2008. Barnier also highlighted the importance of legal operators being “able to offer sufficiently attractive products for them to be a credible alternative to the illicit sites, otherwise consumers will continue to turn to illicit and unregulated providers.”
EU operator association the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) called ahead of the report for “hard action” from the EC to prevent the further fragmentation of Europe into “27 ‘mini-markets’ for gambling”, which it argued was failing to provide proper protection for consumers.
Article written by Stephen Carter