Tuesday September 10,2013 : EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS ONLINE GAMBLING REPORT
Some positives, some negatives but at least a progressive step
A report on online gambling led by British Conservative MEP Ashley Fox has been adopted by the European Parliament by an overwhelming majority.
The Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee report covers a wide range of proposals for EU and Member States to take forward in view of the upcoming European Parliament and Commission in 2014.
The proposals highlight the need for improved customer verification and cross border cooperation which remove administrative burdens, provide simplified licencing and streamlined indentification procedures.
“Today’s vote, which is the 3rd report on gambling in the mandate of this European Parliament, highlights once more the growing interest of the EU to take action and responsibility in this area," said Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of the EGBA.
The report comes a year after the adoption of the European Commission action plan on online gambling and puts the spotlight on Commissioner Barnier to deliver on his promises to take action on non-compliant EU member states.
"This is the only way to ensure an attractive and competitive regulated offer, and prevent consumers from turning to more competitive but unregulated websites,” said the EGBA.
The Remote Gambling Association (RGA), however, has taken a more critical view of the adoption saying while it welcomes certain positive aspects of the report, it is disappointed that in its view the report contains unsubstantiated views of the online gambling sector which "appear to have been used to justify the call for unwarranted restrictions on the freedoms normally associated with the Internal Market".
The RGA has flagged what it sees as flaws saying it appears as though the proposal has been "unduly influenced by those members of the IMCO Committee who are opposed to the opening of markets to licensed private sector online gambling companies.
"In doing so they have repeated flawed consumer protection arguments to justify the retention of barriers to market entry," the RGA said, highlighting the Committee's proposed restrictions on certain betting products.
The association is pushing for workable and coherent licencing regimes across borders that are applied in a non-discriminatory way to all types of operator, it reiterated.
Another area of concern is the Committee's support of a "sports betting right" which the RGA believes is essentially a commercial rather than a regulatory issue and need not have been included in a report on the regulation of online gambling.
On a more positive note, the RGA is pleased that the resolution promotes cooperation between national gambling regulators; the benefits of more transparent licensing procedures; and the need to avoid unnecessary administrative burdens.
"Most welcome of all is that the resolution calls on the Commission to continue to enforce EU law and, if necessary, to pursue infringement proceedings against Member States that are not complying with the Internal Market rules," the statement confirmed.
Clive Hawkswood, chief executive officer of the RGA said: "Although we are dubious about some of the measures called for in this resolution, we are hopeful that it will put further pressure on the Commission to act against Member States that do not comply with EU law.
Compliance with the rules of the Internal Market should be the number one priority for IMCO. Many serious infringement proceedings have been outstanding for five years already and we cannot believe that Commissioner Barnier will not rectify that situation before he leaves the Commission in 2014.
We are therefore urging the Commission again to fulfill its obligation as the guardian of the Treaty and bring to an end the many breaches that have unfairly blighted our sector."
The full report can be read here: