The online gambling
trade association European Gaming and Betting Association has announced the results of an independent study carried out by standards and player protection body eCOGRA, revealing that 67 percent of the consumer facing responsible gaming standards implemented by EGBA members match or exceed those applied by 10 of Europe's largest gambling monopolies.
The EGBA is a non-profit body that includes leading European gaming and betting operators such as Bet-at-home.com, bwin, Digibet, Carmen Media Group, Expekt, Interwetten, PartyGaming and Unibet among its members and is based in Brussels.
The results of the eCOGRA study show that:
* 43 percent of the standards applied by the private operators match those of the gambling monopolies;
* 24 percent exceed those of the monopolies;
* Only 4 percent of the standards applied by the private sector are deemed to be lower than those of the monopolies;
* The remaining standards could not be benchmarked against those of the monopolies either because of insufficient information/lack of accessibility (21 percent) or inapplicability (8 percent)
Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of the EGBA said that in a fast changing online environment, rigorous monitoring of the best existing practice is essential so as to allow a continuous process of updates and improvements.
In this context, in May 2008 the EGBA appointed eCOGRA to carry out a study that would benchmark some of Europe's leading gambling monopolies against the EGBA's own standards governing consumer protection, security and social responsibility that it requires all of its members to meet.
She said that EGBA welcomes the results of the study, which provides the first ever fact-based and comparative assessment of the practices in place at both private sector operators as well as those of government controlled monopolies.
"This study shows us that there are lessons to be learned by both the monopolies as well as the private sector," said Ligné. "However, it also clearly dismisses the argument that private sector companies are failing to provide consumers with similar levels of protection and responsible gaming practices.
"In fact the evidence shows that it is the private sector that is leading the field in this important area and results are a testament to the major commitment and strong leadership of EGBA operators towards developing a comprehensive and consistent package of responsible gaming practices".
At a time when responsible gaming is at the heart of political discussions in Europe, eCOGRA's study gives clear evidence that two thirds of the consumer facing tools and practices in place at EGBA members offer best practice protections that either match or exceed those offered by the monopolies.
It also shows the need for improved transparency as 21 percent of the standards could not be benchmarked due to either insufficient information being available on the exact equivalent practices of the monopolies or the fact that they were not accessible.
Ligné added: "I am confident that this study will improve the understanding of all stakeholders throughout Europe on the important issue of consumer protection and responsible gaming. From now on, it will provide a valuable reference for those making political decisions about the future of online gaming at EU as well as at a national level".
Andrew Beveridge, CEO of eCOGRA added: "Self-regulation in the online gaming sector is an important tool and greatly complements formal regulation. Legislators should seek to draw upon the considerable and effective efforts made by the private sector and promote similar initiatives throughout the EU".
EGBA promotes the right of private gaming and betting operators that are regulated and licensed in one Member State to a fair market access throughout the European Union. Online gaming and betting is a fast growing market, but will remain for the next decades a negligible part of the overall European gaming market in which the traditional land-based offer is expected to grow from Euro 80 billion GGR in 2007 to Euro 95 billion GGR in 2012, thus keeping the lion's share with 90,6 percent of the market.