Tuesday November 15, 2011 : Vote on internet gambling regulation marks a distinct change of posture
The Remote Gaming Association, which represents many of the UK's leading online gambling companies, has joined other representative bodies in applauding Tuesday’s EU Parliament vote on internet gambling.
The Association said in a statement that the resolution demonstrates a clear shift in understanding and support for the European licensed online gambling sector.
"In particular, it presses the European Commission to ensure compliance with EU law and to pursue infringement proceedings against Member States that unjustifiably restrict access to their gambling markets," the statement notes, approving in particular support for:
* The provision of well-regulated online gambling services;
* Cooperation between national gambling regulators;
* The need to avoid unnecessary licensing duplication and administrative burdens;
* Notes that licensed betting operators help protect the integrity of sport;
* That more progress should be made on addressing infringement cases; and
* That the Commission should take action against violations of the EU Treaties.
“The European Parliament’s resolution demonstrates a marked change in approach," said the RGA's chief executive, Clive Hawkswood. "It now wants to regulate rather than prohibit, and it is pressing the Commission to act against Member States which unjustifiably restrict access to their gambling markets.
"The resolution is clear, reminding the Commission ‘of its duty to act swiftly upon receipt of complaints about violations of the freedoms enshrined in the Treaties.’ The licensed private remote gambling sector is in full support of those remarks,” he added.
Hawkswood drew attention to the efforts of the licensed private remote gambling sector, which has already been working to deliver European-wide standards, as promoted by the European Parliament’s resolution, most notably through the Responsible Remote Gambling Measures agreed with the EU recognised European Committee for Standardisation.
“The Parliament’s resolution insists that licensing procedures must be transparent and non-discriminatory, and avoid unnecessary duplication of requirements and controls carried out in Member States," says Hawkswood.
"There is no evidence that introducing a well-regulated licensing regime with multiple operators presents any more concerns than a monopoly. It is clear that Member States are increasingly coming to that conclusion.”
The RGA is not entirely happy with the vote, noting that it is disappointed that it includes a reference to a property right for sports event organisers from betting.
"This follows increasing lobbying by wealthy sporting bodies to unjustifiably manufacture new income from betting products in addition to the large amount of commercial income they already receive from the gambling sector," the RGA observes.
Hawkswood cautions against too much optimism, noting that fundamentally the EP vote is a non-legislative process.
"The next steps in relation to the Parliament’s resolution and the Commission’s deliberations regarding its Green Paper exercise are unclear. In the meantime, we will continue to work with receptive and forward thinking Member States and to press the Commission to enforce EU law,” he said.