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Responsible Online Gambling Day 2010

By: Joe Valentino, Friday October 15th 2010
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Since 2008, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has been hosting the Responsible Gaming Day (RGD) every October. It brings together various stake holders in the online gaming industry, such as representatives from the EU and national governments, private online gaming operators, academicians and NGO representatives. The RGD 2010 was held on October 13 and the specific subjects set aside for discussion were the Digital Agenda and the announcement of a Green Paper for the gambling sector. Over 150 delegates attended.

The Digital Agenda seeks to create a unified digital economy in Europe by 2020. It requires the free flow of online services, like online gambling, across national borders. This was precisely the message delivered by Norbert Teufelberger, EGBA Chairman and co-CEO of Bwin. The good news according to Teufelberger was that almost two thirds of EU member states were in some stage of reforming the online gaming markets within their countries. Some like Italy already have a flourishing regulated online gambling regime. At the other end is Greece that has acknowledged the need but has not taken concrete steps. The problem is that too many barriers still block the unimpeded offering of online gambling services across countries. In order for the barriers to be removed, Teufelberger said, "Regulation must be harmonized so that consumers receive similar high protection regardless of where they play. Online gaming is a cross-border activity and consumer protection needs to be applied cross-border as well."

Simon Holliday moderated the section on the green paper. Holliday is a Director at H2 Gambling Capital, which is the leading supplier of data regarding the global gambling industry, including online gambling. H2 Gambling Capital's data and forecasts have become the industry standard. Speaking about the green paper on behalf of the European Commission, Jean Bergevin, said, "The Commission is determined to proceed with an objective and factual based consultation at the earliest by the end of the year in the form of a green paper which will collect the information necessary to determine the most efficient and coherent systems addressing recognized public interest objectives".

The RGD was hosted by the European Parliament. Timothy Kirkhope, MEP, in the opening speech pointed out that Europe had a golden opportunity to establish a level playing field for a sector which was struggling with a patchwork of different rules. He added, "I have great faith in Commissioner Barnier that he will take heed of our discussions today, and begin to work out a strategy to ensure that online gambling can become a legitimate part of the internal market." The keynote address was delivered by Francois Arbault, Member of Commissioner Michel Barnier's private office. The priorities for a future EU gambling policy were also discussed at the RGD.

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