by Renee Israel
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), a group
representing some of the top names in European gambling, issued a statement
yesterday, ahead of an important discussion scheduled by the European Parliament
over internet gambling regulation.
EGBA's comments on online gambling included a call for a
legal framework that would allow popular products to become available to
European gamblers, taking into account the fact that demand for online gambling
continues to grow among local players.
The secretary general of EGBA, Sigrid Ligne warned the European
Parliament that if they did not create this type of legal framework, players
would simply turn to unlicensed, unregulated operators.
Ligne noted: "Greater coordination between member states is
therefore vital to ensure effective regulation and protection for consumers."
Violating of EU Rules
In its statement, EGBA highlighted the fact that some European
nations are "clearly at odds with the treaty-based 'red lines' which seek to
combat protectionist bias, and the situation is only getting worse."
Ligne said that some EU countries have even introduced criminal
sanctions against European gambling operators and consumers "on the back of
legislation which manifestly violates EU law", and yet the European Commission
does nothing to prevent this.
Ligne said: "Without Commission action now, certain members states
will continue to consider that they have 'carte blanche' to do as they please."
EGBA pointed out that the current situation of there existing 27
'mini markets' for online gambling in Europe was harming consumers by
"restricting choice, fostering a burgeoning 'black market' and failing to
provide a commercially viable framework for this major segment of the digital
EU-Wide Gambling Legislation
Ahead of the European Parliament's important meeting on internet
gambling scheduled for tomorrow, June 27th, EGBA is calling for EU-wide gambling
legislation which incorporates all member states.
"Our goal is of course a single license or passport for online
gambling, as exists in other sectors," she said. "But a practical start should
be made now by the Commission proposing a harmonisation of targeted licensing
requirements, common technical standards and reporting tools and a common
consumer protection standards based on the workshop agreement published in 2011
by the European standardisation body CEN."
Ligne concluded that the expectations set forth in the latest
EGBA statement were not "pie-in-the-sky." Instead, she said they were "the
bare-bones solution to get us nearer to an EU system which keeps consumers safe
whenever they are in the EU", and helps curb illegal operations.