11/23/09 – The Right2bet petition is an online campaign which aims to gather the signatures of a million E.U residents, just enough to force the European Union to debate the issue of Gambling Law and Monopolies in parliament under the new Citizens' Initiative, as part of the European Union’s new ‘Lisbon Treaty’.

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The main concern for the campaigners is the level of state control over the gambling industry on the European Mainland, which has led to a splintered and disjointed industry, flourishing in some countries yet floundering in others and going against the European Union’s original remit to increase and standardise trade throughout the continent, offering large advantages or disadvantages to the consumer based on their country of residence.

The current situation is complicated, with countries such as Britain and Ireland choosing to restrict commercial gambling operators as little as possible and those such as Portugal, Greece and the Netherlands regulating to the point where commercial operators are illegal. Others, such as France and Italy, perch themselves somewhere firmly in the middle.

The favourite approach of the restricting governments is simply to run the industry in their countries through a state owned company, such as De Lotto in the Netherlands or OPAP in Greece, whilst banning all commercial companies. As Right2bet's ‘Charity Challenge’ shows in detail, the effect this has on consumers is simple; increased competition means a price war on odds, whilst a closed market sees little value filter to the consumer.

The restricting governments’ arguments tend to be old and tired; from claiming to be fighting corruption and money laundering, to countering problem gambling. Of course, any proof of success of the former is very difficult to obtain, as state operators are above investigation by the industry’s own regulators, and the latter has recently been denounced by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection as being woefully under-researched, as explained in this week’s Right2bet blog.

The Right2bet petition is available for all to sign at www.right2bet.net, and includes many features on the latest deregulation news, a selection of readers’ poetry and the chance to email your M.E.P directly!