Fabian Demicoli

Online gambling in the Internal Market

 The much-awaited Green Paper public consultation on online gambling in the Internal Market was adopted by the Commission on 24 March 2011. Commissioner Barnier had announced the intention to engage in extensive dialogue in February 2010, responding to calls from the European Parliament and Member States. With this public consultation the Commission seeks to obtain a facts-based picture of the EU online gambling market and of the different regulatory models in the Member States

 

Why do we need a public consultation on online gambling?

Online gambling services are widely offered in the EU and accessible to consumers. This service activity is a growth sector of the gambling market and there is a spiralling demand for these services in Europe. Online gambling opportunities have increased and this is posing societal and public order challenges as well as regulatory and technical ones.

At the same time national regulatory frameworks vary significantly between Member States. Through this consultation the Commission seeks to contribute to the emergence of a legal framework for ononline gambling services in Member Sates which provides greater legal certainty for all stakeholders.

Meanwhile there is the growing presence of illegal gambling sites in the EU operating without any license; consumers search across borders for the most competitive online gambling services and they are easily attracted by these sophisticated illegal offers. Ultimately, the objectives of the consultation are to achieve a market for online gambling services that is well-regulated for all.

What does the public consultation cover?

The consultation embraces all relevant public interest objectives that this service activity touches upon. More specifically, the consultation seeks to exhaust a number of key questions on:

  • Definition and organisation of online gambling services:

1) advantages and/or difficulties associated with the co-existence in the EU of the different national systems and practices for licensing of online gambling services; 2) gambling services that consumers can access, such as sports betting services, casino games or promotional games and 3) the various platforms that may be used such as internet or mobile applications;

  • Rules and practices relating to services performed and/or used by online gambling service providers, such as sales promotions, advertising, online pop-ups, internet service providers, data storage centres, customer identification, and regulations for payment systems and player accounts;
  • Consumer protection: 1) information on, and treatment of, problem gambling and gambling addiction; 2) the effectiveness of national measures pursued to protect players and prevent or limit such problems, such as age limits, bans on use of credit of self-limitation systems; and 3) protection of minors and other vulnerable groups;
  • Public order: best practices to detect and prevent fraud, money laundering and other crimes;
  • Financing of benevolent and public interest activities and events: the differing systems of revenue channelling for public interest activities and mechanisms for redistributing revenues from public and private online gambling services to the benefit of society such as the arts, education or sport;
  • Enforcement of applicable laws: 1) regulation and supervision of online gambling services; 2) cross-border cooperation between Member States; and 3) efficiency of existing blocking systems, such as payment blocking or domain name filtering.

What are the next steps?

The Commission is seeking to collect detailed information and data on the key policy issues. This public consultation is an invitation to all relevant stakeholders to express their views, share their expertise and contribute available data. Contributions are therefore welcome from citizens, gambling operators, providers of media-related services, data storage centres, internet service providers, payment service providers, sports event organisers, beneficiaries of good causes and public authorities as well as other interested stakeholders.

The public consultation is open until 31 July 2011. The contributions received will identify the necessity and the kind of EU follow-up action that is required in the field.

Website:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/services/gambling_en.htm

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