Pan-European Gambling Harmonisation finally on the cards?

03/10/2012

An upcoming commission policy paper on gambling will be a ‘key test’ of the executive’s commitment to tackling ‘fragmentation’ in the sector, says a leading authority on EU policy.

Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of European gaming and betting association (EGBA), called for ‘hard’ action from the commission to protect consumers.

Speaking in Brussels, she said, “We deplore the situation today where we see 27 ‘mini-markets’ for gambling in Europe. 

”We are calling for the introduction of European rules to ensure proper protection for consumers and maintain a crime-free environment throughout the EU, while affording open, fair and transparent licensing conditions for EU-regulated operators.”

Her comments come as the commission prepares to unveil its “communication and action plan on online gambling” on 10 October, which could also have far-reaching consequences for the street gaming sector.

Ligné added, “What is ultimately needed is overarching EU legislation for online gambling, as there is for virtually all other online services. The objective is to have EU-wide, sector specific legislation that regulates both market access and consumer protection issues.”

In a breakfast briefing with journalists on Tuesday, she added, “Unfortunately, the situation is worsening in a number of jurisdictions. 

”Several member states have decided to move forward with legislation that is, at best, highly questionable under EU law. 

”Some have even gone a step further. If the commission fails to provide a timetable for reactivating its dormant infringement procedures, and to take rapid action against new offenders, certain member states will continue to consider that they have ‘carte blanche’ to do as they please.

“They will also be exposing consumers to potentially unsafe operators.

She said: “Action from the commission on European gambling markets is more justified and urgent than ever. The normal course of EU justice – infringement procedures – can no longer be put on hold. 

”There are nine infringement procedures suspended for the moment, and many more new complaints lodged with the commission.”

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