How Better To Regulate EU Gambling?

At the end of June 2012 Global Betting and Gaming Consultants attended the debate held at the European Parliament on ‘How To Better Regulate Gambling And Betting In Europe?
Much was made of Commissioner Barnier’s announcement at the meeting that the European Commission will renew its action against EU member states whose gambling regulation is not compatible with EU law. Barnier said:

“the Commission is going to contact all the Member States concerned by ongoing cases or complaints in order to remind them of the applicable rules and suggest that any problematic situations are rectified in line with current case law. If blatant infringements persist, I will not hesitate to propose to my colleagues that the appropriate proceedings be taken or relaunched.”
Here, GBGC highlights some of the other comments, opinions, and news from the debate. 

Autumn EU Communication 
There will be an EU communication on gambling in the autumn, possible September 2012. It will have three areas of attention: protection of the consumer, prevention of fraud, and integrity in the field of sport. 

Comments from Androulla Vassiliou, Member of the European Commission for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, and Youth
Match fixing is one of the “main threats” to the integrity of sport and it is “high on the political agenda”
The new seven-year EU budget (2014-2020) will include a budget for sport and its integrity to run “education programmes” and “awareness raising campaigns”. 

Friedrich Stickler, President of the European Lotteries
He argued that there is no such thing as a “grey market” in gambling. There is just legal and illegal.
He emphasised the state lotteries’ contribution to tax revenues and good causes in Europe. 

Ron Goudsmit, Chairman of the European Casino Association
He stated national level regulation is best for gambling, not EU level harmonisation. He took the view that a comparable taxation rate should be applied to online gaming as for casinos. The online gambling business model should change, not the tax level changing to accommodate the business model 

Philippe Germond, Chairman of EPMA
He argued that the tote (pari-mutuel) model of betting was the best means for combating corruption in sport and illegal gambling. 

Global Betting and Gaming Consultant conclusions: 
• Apparent agreement that the time is not yet right for EU level regulation of gambling but that the EU can help member states with issues relating to gambling e.g. sports integrity 
• Match fixing is a pre-occupation but stats given by FIFA EWS did not support extent of problem – 18 out of 800 (?) matches referred for “suspicious betting patterns” (not even confirmed fixing) 
• Argument is now being framed as ‘legal vs illegal’ rather than ‘onshore vs offshore’ – understandable why e-gaming firms are now keen to get so many licences and pay so much tax. Got to be on the ‘right side of the argument’. 
• Does at least seem to be a realisation of the necessity to provide attractive gambling services in the ‘legal’ market to reduce consumer temptation to use ‘illegal’ services 
• Remains to be seen what Cyprus will do with its term as president of EU over the next six months, given its financial problems and struggles with its own gambling regulation

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