Following prolonged talks, twenty member states of the European Economic Zone have come to an agreement on the next measures for EU online gambling. The European Commission outlines all the details in its short report titled, “Enhancing cross-country cooperation to tackle challenges of online gambling.”
The agreement will now focus on bringing down the number of unlicensed operators and strengthening the overall services players receive: security, legal protection and ensured best practices. “Cooperation between countries can help protect people and ensure well-regulated and responsible gambling throughout Europe. Cooperation has already been identified as one of the priorities in the Commission Communication of 2012,” reported by the EC.
European Commission (Image credit: Bellona)
The report also stressed that EC aim was to establish a framework that will provide ample opportunity for maintaining the best practices. “The Commission, together with the members of the Expert Group on Gambling Services, has contributed to work on a cooperation arrangement that helps create a framework for exchanging information, best practice and assistance.”
They hope this will gradually circumvent illegal and unregulated practices for Europe’s online gambling industry. Consumer protection will play an important role by safeguarding data and personal information, although the framework will also aim to prevent any cases of match-fixing, laundering or fraud.
The site of the European Commission states that countries are different in the nature they run their online gambling activities. Some nations have a monopolistic regime when it comes to the online gambling business, and it’s operated by one public or private company. On the other hand there are also countries that offer licenses for EU online gambling. It also says that gambling operators that are licensed in one EU country can offer their services in other countries without getting the green light form the secondary countries. “At the same time, operators licensed in one or more EU countries can offer gambling services in other countries without the authorisation normally required in those other countries.”
Maarten Haijer (Secretary General of EGBA)
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) is an industry body that represents some of the most well-known gambling and betting operators licensed in the EU. The Secretary General of the association, Maarten Haijer, expressed his delight with the newly-announced agreement as he believes that this will help promote transparency and cooperation between all parties involved with EU online gambling.
“The signing of the cooperation agreements between the EU’s Gambling Authorities is a crucial step in building trust and confidence in this inherently cross-border sector,” said Haijer, and he also added, “We encourage the authorities to address with priority unnecessary administrative costs that make the regulated offer less competitive than the unregulated offer.”
EGBA was not the only association that voiced their enthusiasm towards the new EU online gambling deal, as the head of Malta’s Gaming Authority (MGA), Joseph Cuschieri, also highlighted the importance of the agreement. “This agreement is a result of various discussions and debates between the various national gaming authorities and credit goes to the officials working in DG-GROW as well as to the representative officials of the various regulatory bodies who collectively worked towards this significant multilateral achievement.”
According to the European Commission, the online gambling market is valued at €84.9 billion and enjoys an annual growth rate of around 3%. It is estimated that in 2012 alone the EU online gambling services accounted for more than 12% of the total gambling market on the continent, while the revenues were in excess of €10 billion. The growth of the industry is quite astonishing, considering that for 2015 annual revenues are expected to hit €13 billion.