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Online Gambling Industry Applauds EU Vote

By: Joe Valentino, Thursday November 17th 2011
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The European online gambling industry, through its representative trade associations, applauded the adoption by the EU Parliament of the Creutzmann report. The Remote Gaming Association (RGA), which represents many of the UK's leading online gambling companies, and the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) have released their statements.

The RGA statement said that the resolution demonstrated a clear shift in the EU policy for the European licensed online gambling sector. The most important outcome was the instructions to the European Commission (EC) to pursue infringement proceedings against Member States that are violating EU rules in framing their online gambling regulation and licensing frameworks.

RGA chief executive, Clive Hawkswood, said that the licensed private online gambling industry is ready with European-wide standards on customer protection, as required by the EU Parliament's resolution. This work was carried out through the Responsible Remote Gambling Measures formulated in consultation with the EU recognized European Committee for Standardization. Hawkswood also lauded the clause that required national licensing procedures to be transparent and non-discriminatory, and to avoid unnecessary duplication of requirements and controls carried out in Member States. Hawkswood said, "There is no evidence that introducing a well-regulated licensing regime with multiple operators presents any more concerns than a monopoly. It is clear that Member States are increasingly coming to that conclusion."

The RGA statement cautioned the online gambling industry not to be too optimistic about the future. It pointed out that the EU Parliament vote is a non-legislative process. The next steps in this regard are unclear and the online casino operators will have to wait till the EC Green Paper is finalized.

EGBA also welcomed the EU Parliament vote and particularly commended the efforts of Creutzmann in preparing and presenting his report. The statement released by EGBA was on the lines of the RGA statement. Sigrid Ligne, the general secretary of EGBA, pointed out that time is of the essence because Member States are pushing ahead with the regulation of their national online gambling markets without regard for EU rules. The deeper they entrench themselves the more difficult will it become to force a change. Ligne said, "As the guardian of the Treaties, the Commission must act to curb further fragmentation of the Internal Market by consistently declaring protectionist national regimes to be incompatible with EU law." Ligne also referred to the Green Paper that the EC is finalizing. It has to be based on the directions given by the EU Parliament through the adoption of the resolution. The results of the intensive consultations are also available as are the conclusions of the expert workshops. Now Commissioner Michel Barnier has no excuse for delaying action on defaulting Member States.

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