Saturday

27th May 2017

Stakeholder

Online gambling and consumer protection

  • The current lack of outright legislation has resulted in self-regulation initiatives. (Photo: Amy the Nurse)

In the coming weeks, the European Commission is expected to unveil its recommendations on consumer protection and advertising for online gambling.

These recommendations are foreseen in the European Commission’s Action Plan for online gambling which was published in October 2012. Later this year, another recommendation on betting-related match-fixing is expected.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

As it is generally the case in consumer goods and services sectors, the industry’s expectations regarding such recommendations are high. Member States share the common objective of protecting consumers. However, the many gambling reforms at national level have yielded different results.

Through its recommendations, the European Commission could unstitch this patchwork of different national approaches and construct a new uniform, European approach able to provide the appropriate levels of protection.

The current lack of outright legislation coupled with the fast evolving environment of online gambling has resulted in self-regulation initiatives.

The European Committee for Standardization (CEN), which is in charge of developing and defining voluntary standards at European level, set up a workshop agreement in 2011 on “Responsible Remote Gambling Measures”.

This agreement, to which EGBA contributed, is the first Pan-European agreement aimed at providing a high level of consumer protection for online gambling players.

Where do we go from here?

With almost 7 million European consumers gambling online and Europe’s online gambling market set to represent 15% of the total gambling market by 2015, EGBA hopes the Commission’s recommendations will take stock of these self-regulatory initiatives and pool together a common set of principles which provide for a high level of protection for all EU consumers.

As stated by Commissioner Barnier, encouraging the development of an attractive regulated offer is key to effectively channel consumers away from unregulated gambling websites.

This implies that, regardless of the nature of the regulatory regime, there should firstly be measures in place covering all aspects of player protection and, secondly a regulator ensuring the correct implementation of the rules (ie: protecting minors, preventing problem gambling, encouraging responsible advertising).

Multi–licensed operators are, in that context, very helpful as they can draw on their experiences in the different Member States.

Drawing from the industry’s experience

Know your customer (KYC) measures play a central role. KYC obligations allow operators to verify the identity and age of their players, crucial in helping to prevent underage gambling. Several measures can be considered, from introducing a visible label on gambling websites making it clear that no underage gambling is permitted, to detailed identity check requirements. However, the recommendations should also balance the need between the mandatory information that a consumer must provide to an operator (name, date of birth, payment details etc) and to avoid burdening the consumer so much that he will turn to unregulated websites.

Last but not least, the use of electronic verification systems (which the European Parliament supported in its 2013 report on online gambling) greatly facilitates the identification of a player and is both beneficial for the consumer and the operator.

Electronic verification systems are considered very effective in diverting the public away from unregulated online gambling offers.

The prevention of problem gambling should also be a central point of the recommendations. Evidence has shown that, regardless of the type of regulatory, rates of problem gambling are very similar across different markets. While the type of measures that may serve as best practices can vary between Member States, consumers should be able to make informed choices about how much and how often they want to gamble.

The recommendation should recognise that players should be given the possibility to limit their spending and the option to exclude themselves from gambling. In addition, the regulatory authority should keep track of all banned players.

The EGBA looks forward to the publication of the recommendations. The effect of this set of best practices on Members States should be closely monitored by the European Commission to bring to light implementation gaps and shortfalls, as these are detrimental for consumers and operators alike.

If the recommendations are not sufficiently followed upon, the European Commission should consider proposing legally binding measures.

Maarten Haijer is the Secretary General of the European Gaming and Betting Association, representing the leading online gambling operators licensed and regulated in the EU. The EGBA advocates consistent online gambling regulation based on fair competition in accordance with EU law.

Letter

An open letter to ministers on the audiovisual directive

The ongoing revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive is a key opportunity to reduce exposure of Europe's children to advertisements of health-harmful products – an opportunity that should not be missed.

Let’s not put European public health at risk

Following Brexit, there are many different cities across the EU vying for the coveted prize of hosting the displaced European Medicines Agency, but Copenhagen might just be the perfect fit.

Letter

Childhood obesity: Time to put words into action

MEPs from all parties have repeatedly voiced their concerns about the rising levels of childhood overweight and obesity. Yet, when the opportunity arises to put declarations into action, the response falls short.

We must renew Europe for all Europeans

A call for socialist values and rights at a time when Europe is facing a number of existential threats, says a group of progressive European affairs ministers.

Stakeholders' Views

This EUobserver section provides a platform for EU stakeholders to communicate positions, views and activities.

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Cost of Speaking Out: Human Rights Violations Committed in Belarus
  2. ACCABanishing Bias? Audit, Objectivity and the Value of Professional Scepticism
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Oslo Climate Declaration Focuses on Rising Temperatures in the Arctic
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceAbdominal Obesity: A Causal Risk Factor for Cardiometabolic Diseases
  5. EU Green Week 2017Discuss EU Environmental Policies With Industry Experts and Thought Leaders
  6. GEN Summit 2017Join the World's Leading Media Summit for Thought-Provoking Talks and Experiences
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTogether for Human Rights: A Year in Review
  8. Malta EU 2017EU All Set for Free Roaming Starting 15 June
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersRefugee Unemployment Biggest Drain on Public Purse, Says New Nordic Studies
  10. Dialogue Platform17,000 Women, 515 Babies in Turkish Prisons, a Report Reveals
  11. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  12. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey