1/19/10 – Next week sees the start of the Legal Gaming in Europe conference – a forum for gambling and gaming operators designed to guide them through the complicated web of regulation varying from country to country across the continent. Representatives from many leading gambling operators will attend, seeking to explore the market opportunities developing from legislative reforms in Denmark, Spain, Italy, and Estonia.

The conference will make participants aware of what gaming products and gambling platforms are currently legally permitted in each jurisdiction, along with details of the tax frameworks, regulatory restrictions, and pledges to responsible gaming.

The Right2bet campaign is particularly interested in the discussions over the European Commission’s stance on the developments in the gambling markets seen in EU member states such as France, Poland, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands. The Commission is tasked with ensuring each country’s laws are in tune with the legally binding Treaty commitments signed by member states, especially Article 49 of the EU Treaty, which ensures that there must be a free flow of goods and services between member states without restriction.

However, the Commission’s record has so far fallen short of its commitment to a competitive gambling industry. Last week, the Commission asked the Polish government to explain its recent reforms which have seen gambling and gaming operators from across the EU blocked from the Polish market, but it remains to be seen if they will follow through and penalise Poland for contravening European law. We are hopeful that Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes will step up and send a powerful message that flouting EU law brings serious repercussions.

The Commission recognises that competition brings consumers a wealth of benefits, including fairer prices, a greater variety of choice, improved quality of service, and greater innovation in response to the challenges of the global marketplace. However, when it comes to supporting these goals in the gambling sector, the Commission seems on more than one occasion to have neglected its duties. Hopefully, the coming together of gambling operators at the London-based conference will generate more demand for a louder consumer voice in this marginalised industry, and see everyone enjoy the benefits of a free and fair market.