The EC today made a number of recommendations that are designed to help Member States provide a high level of consumer protection for online gamblers. These measures follow the adoption of the Action Plan on Online Gambling in October 2012, which aimed to pave the way for a comprehensive framework on online gambling in the Internal Market.
The aim of the recommendations are to protect the most vulnerable, especially under18s, from the risks associated with gambling; and ensure that operators apply responsible marketing standards.
There is an absolute consensus that proportionate and effective measures should be in place across the industry to minimize harm from gambling for all consumers. This is especially true for vulnerable groups such as minors.
The RGA therefore welcomes the fact that the vast majority of the Commission’s proposals are already normal practice within the industry and represent learning taken from those jurisdictions that have first-hand experience of regulating and licensing online gambling.
It is to be hoped that newer licensing jurisdictions will find the Commission’s work a practical aid in developing their own regimes and that this initiative will be the first step towards a harmonization of standards within the EU.
Although there are a small number of details that the RGA would like to discuss further with stakeholders, it is fully supportive of the Commission’s work in this area and of the vast majority of its findings. The only fundamental concern is that the measures focus solely on online gambling when it is self-evident that consistent and appropriate consumer protection should apply to all forms of gambling.
Clive Hawkswood, the RGA’s Chief Executive commented that: “despite our reservations about a very small number of the recommendations, we are fully supportive of the thrust of the Commission’s work and the reasonable and proportionate approach it has adopted towards consumer protection. We look forward to continuing our discussions both with the Commission and, crucially, with individual Member States as they consider whether and how to implement these proposals.
These recommendations are a small step in the right direction which we hope will spur a further opening of the market across the EU. However any changes flowing from them will of course be at the discretion of Member States and therefore we are still a very long way from achieving anything that looks like a real internal market for gambling services.”