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Changes Likely in Europe Online Gambling

By: Adam Baker, Sunday December 12th 2010
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This Friday, December 10, a voluminous document titled "Council Conclusions on the Framework for Gambling and Betting in the Member States of the European Union" was published by the European Union (EU). The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has pointed out that this document has the potential to change the outlook in Europe from a national to a continental one. So far the different national governments have been fiercely protective of their own monopoly operators, have insisted on separate licensing from their regulatory authorities and have resisted transnational cooperation. Now in this document the EU ministers have accepted for the first time that "a purely national approach is insufficient to deal with online gambling". The debate on online gambling was initiated in the Council in 2008 and till now had made little headway. This show of unanimity will make the European Commission's Green Paper consultations more meaningful as and when it is issued. Green Papers are documents published by the EC to stimulate discussion among the member countries. Green Papers may give rise to legislative developments on the basis of the discussion and debate.

The representatives of the countries of the EU agreed that their national regulatory authorities could undertake a number of actions that would improve cooperation between them. These actions included cooperation on consumer protection, sports integrity, minimizing unnecessary administrative burdens and the sharing of best practice in relation to responsible gambling measures. Minimizing unnecessary burdens is a common and frequent complaint of online gaming operators who have to duplicate the costly and time consuming registration formalities with each national regulator.

EGBA Secretary General, Sigrid Ligne, commented in depth on the release of this crucial document. She said, "The importance of these conclusions for online gambling in the EU cannot be underestimated. The Member States expressly support an in-depth discussion on online gambling in the Internal Market as proposed by Commissioner Barnier." Barnier is the present head of the European Commission. Ligne further pointed out that just the announcement of the Green Paper has changed the outlook and the debate on online gambling is evolving rapidly. About a year back EU member states agreeing to cooperate in online gambling issues would have been unthinkable. EGBA has extended full support to the EC in its efforts to issue the Green Paper and hopes that the paper will be released as soon as possible. EGBA also "commends the Belgian Presidency for its hard work and this remarkable result".

EGBA is the industry body representing the leading online gaming and betting operators established, licensed and regulated within the EU. EGBA advocates a fair, competitive and regulated online gaming market throughout Europe based on effective European and international collaboration and cooperation.

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