Tuesday November 15, 2011 : EU PARLIAMENT VOTES FOR MORE EUROPEAN COMMISSION ACTION IN ONLINE GAMBLING SECTOR
Creutzmann report adopted in parliamentary vote calls for a common set of rules for consumer protection
The much anticipated European Parliament vote on the Creutzmann report on internet gambling (see previous InfoPowa reports) has lifted the spirits of online gambling representative bodies, and represents a positive shift in the EU position on a common approach towards online gambling, additionally pressuring the European Commission to pursue infringement cases against national regulatory regimes that are not compliant with EU law.
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomed the vote Tuesday and saluted the efforts of rapporteur Creutzmann in presenting his report, saying that its adoption by the European Parliament (EP), is a call by a clear majority for hard-edged EU-level action in the field of online gambling, starting with a common set of rules for consumer protection.
Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of the EGBA said: “This vote constitutes a very welcome shift in the position of the European Parliament and we commend rapporteur Creutzmann for his achievement.”
Only two years ago in a previous own-initiative report, the European Parliament favoured the status quo and recommended that the EU leave the regulation of online gambling strictly to the national level.
Creutzmann's report acknowledges that, given the cross-border dimension of internet gambling, national stand-alone solutions cannot be the way forward, and lists a series of EU actions, including:
* A framework directive
* Formalised cooperation between regulators under the supervision of the European Commission
* European standards for operators, consumer protection, advertising and electronic identification
Importantly, the report also calls for:
* More efficient national licence application procedures that avoid unnecessary duplication of administrative requirements and controls that have already been verified in another Member State
* Consistent use of infringement procedures by the European Commission to ensure full compliance of Member States’ gambling legalization with EU law.
"This vote gives a clear direction to the European Commission that is in the process of concluding its Green Paper consultation launched in March 2011 and puts the spotlight back on Commissioner Michel Barnier who is leading the exercise," said Ligné.
"With the results of his consultation and the conclusions of the Commission’s expert workshops available, Commissioner Barnier has now all the evidence he needs to take action."
Ligné concludes: “Time is of the essence given that it is precisely now that Member States are pushing ahead and re-regulating their national online gambling markets. Today the Commission has received political support to initiate EU actions. But any EU level action can take years to be adopted and this cannot be a pretext for inaction against Member States that infringe EU law.
"As the guardian of the Treaties, the Commission must act to curb further fragmentation of the Internal Market by consistently declaring protectionist national regimes to be incompatible with EU law.
"Yesterday, Michel Barnier confirmed that the Commission would take its responsibilities in this respect so we now expect him to urgently address the new complaints received and the infringement back-log, an area where the Commission has taken no action since 2008.”
The last Commission action in the 8 pending gambling infringement cases dates back to February 2008. Despite having received several new complaints against national legalization and indeed itself issuing many Detailed Opinions against recent draft laws, the Commission has failed to open any new infringement cases since that date.