Thursday March 21,2013 : GIBRALTAR REGS COULD BE USED TO HARMONISE ONLINE GAMBLING IN EUROPE
British MEP points to quality and experience of Gibraltar regulatory system
The South West England and Gibraltar member of the European Parliament, Ashley Fox , has vaulting ambitions for Gibraltar's online gambling regulations, which he says could form the basis for a harmonised European regulatory regime – an increasingly urgent need as more nations introduce individual systems.
Fox's proposal could have merit; he points to the experience Gibraltar regulators continue to accrue from oversight of major internet gambling operators like Stan James, William Hill, BetVictor, 888 and Betfred. The jurisdiction is widely regarded as among the better European regulators with a practical yet rigorous system that is receptive to legitimate player complaints.
There is a high concentration of skilled workers in Gibraltar, where the online gambling sector employs over 2000 people. Support services to the gambling industry, such as telecommunications and legal and financial services, stimulate a further 700 jobs.
Fox put his thoughts forward in an article in TheParliament.com this week, commenting:
“Gibraltar is host to a highly respected, European-focused online gambling industry, with high consumer safety standards and world-leading online gambling brands. Licences are restricted to operators of high quality and reputation.”
Fox believes that regulatory fragmentation in the marketplace is holding the industry back from its true potential, and that agreement on a standard set of regulations across the EU could therefore be a valuable achievement.
“Certain member states operate under different licensing policies, some of which are discriminatory or overly burdensome, making it hard for operators to expand their business across the EU," Fox wrote. "This has led to a very piecemeal approach to regulating the sector, far from the ideal of a single market.
“My report therefore pushes for convergence of national systems, so that operators, such as those in Gibraltar, can distribute their products across the EU."
Fox believes that harmonisation will additionally improve consumer protection, help prevent money laundering and match fixing, and provide a forum for sharing best practice.
Fox is the rapporteur for the European parliament’s position on the EU’s framework for online gambling, and notes that across the EU, approximately 6.8 million Europeans participate in online gambling. The European Commission predicts that annual revenues from online gambling in the EU will reach Euro 13 billion in 2015.
In Gibraltar, the industry contributes some Euro 53.5 million through duty receipts, corporation tax and employment taxes, and 16 percent of government revenues in Gibraltar come from the gambling sector, in addition to those generated from support services, he notes.