Thursday June 28,2012 : IT'S NOT JUST ILLEGAL OPERATORS THAT WILL COME UNDER THE EC MICROSCOPE (Update)
European Commission chief says EU Member States will also be reminded of their obligations… and EC enforcement measures
European Commission head Michel Barnier's address to the European Parliament Wednesday contained more than just the threat of action against illegal operators…there was a stark warning for non-compliant national regulatory regimes as well.
Barnier served notice that the Commission will reactivate pending infringements and complaints against Member States whose gambling regulation is in violation of EU law…and in September 2013 the Commission will propose a number of European policy initiatives.
"The respect of EU rules is essential; the Commission is going to contact all the Member States concerned by ongoing cases or complaints in order to remind them of the applicable rules and suggest that any problematic situations are rectified in line with current case law.
"If blatant infringements persist, I will not hesitate to propose to my colleagues that the appropriate proceedings be taken or relaunched.”
Concerning policy, the Commissioner said that the development of an attractive legal offer should be encouraged, noting: “It is also important for legal operators to be 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.”
Harmonisation was also important, he inferred, saying that basic guarantees applicable throughout the EU should be developed: “Develop a common European base of principles and measures of protection. So that all citizens are protected, wherever they are and whichever legal site they are connecting to.”
Sigrid Ligne, secretary general of trade association European Gaming and Betting Association, commented on Barnier's speech, noting that the announcement to again start enforcing EU law signals a mayor change as no ‘hard’ action has been taken since 2008.
The Commission recently confirmed that there are 9 pending infringement procedures and 28 new complaints against the gambling regulation of 12 different Member States.
In moving against member state infringements, the Commission will have the full backing of the European Parliament, which in a report adopted in November 2011 called on the Commission “to pursue those infringement proceedings that have been pending since 2008” whilst reminding “the Commission, as ‘guardian of the Treaties’, of its duty to act swiftly upon receipt of complaints about violations of the freedoms enshrined in the Treaties in order to ensure such consistence.”
Barnier remarked in his address that almost 7 million Europeans gamble online. "Our aim must be to provide protection for these consumers, as indeed we must protect all citizens against potential risks. Whatever their Member State of residence," he said.