‘Low Tax’ publication gives a piece of its mind
In regards to the EU Parliament’s proclamation regarding online gambling, a number of questions have been raised in the industry, which is now wondering how can such a different set of EU’s free trade principles be applied to internet gambling.
In addition, there are constant suggestions that the EU principle of free movement of goods and services should be applied to online gambling, and in that respect, the EP states that a dangerous pro-national school of thought is gaining traction in the political sphere; a "do your own thing, but try and cooperate on enforcement" approach.
According to the publication Low Tax, taxes are the real reason for the internet gambling license band-wagon.
The publication opined: "There are two sets of problems, however: one is the existence inside the EU of legitimate, low-tax centres for on-line gaming, notably Malta and Gibraltar; and the other is the inability of European governments to censor the Internet, so that an average Joe or Jane can play on gaming sites hosted in Costa Rica or Vanuatu which are untaxed, and can offer better odds to the punters."
"Such sites may be locally regulated, so why should Joe and Jane not be able to play on them if they so choose?"
“In the past the EU has gone to immense trouble to enforce compliance with EU principles - against stiff national resistance in most cases - through 'passporting' rules”, the article points out before asking: "Is it now going to turn around and offer a contradictory regime for gambling? How can it avoid the principle that a gambling operator properly licensed in a member state can offer its services throughout the Union?
"The ECJ, which is normally at the forefront of enforcement of the EU's freedoms, has been hesitant over gambling and has taken (or been offered) few references. It gave a judgment over a Swedish advertising case which seemed clear enough, but in other cases where it could have taken a clear and principled stand it has tended to be mealy-mouthed," the Low Tax opinion piece comments, noting that, short of a direct attack on the freedom of the Internet, players will continue to access sites with the most competitive offers, regardless of national efforts at market ring-fencing.
"It is a worry perhaps that the EU may try to demonize external providers and use them as an excuse for permitting 'filtering' and other constraints on Internet access," the piece continues. "The French are already enforcing their 'three strikes' law in respect of intellectual property; but that is a clear case of criminality, and no-one knows whether the courts will permit disconnection once it actually reaches that stage and some human rights activist contests it.
"And what is the point of 'disconnecting' a particular user, anyway? You just walk next door and start up again."
In conclusion, the editorial proposed: "In the end, this is a clear case of over-government. Member states and the Commission should simply step back and let the market take its natural course, which will be away from them! But you can bet your life they won't."