European Commission Action Wanted In Online Gambling Sector - EU Parliament Votes

Need of common set of rules for consumer protection underlined in Creutzmann report

European Parliament vote on the Creutzmann report on internet gambling represents a positive shift in the EU position on a common approach towards online gambling. What’s more, the European Commission will pursue infringement cases against national regulatory bodies that are not compliant with the EU law. This is a step forward for the EP as two years ago they recommended the EU to leave the regulation of online gambling strictly to the national level.

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomed the vote and the efforts of rapporteur Creutzmann. Its adoption by the European Parliament (EP) is a clear majority call for hard-edged EU-level action in the field of online gambling, starting with a common set of rules for consumer protection.

“This vote constitutes a very welcome shift in the position of the European Parliament and we commend rapporteur Creutzmann for his achievement,” said Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of the EGBA.

According to Creutzmann's report, national stand-alone solutions cannot be the way forward because of the cross-border dimension of internet gambling. There is also a list of EU actions which that report calls for:

* A framework directive

* Formalized cooperation between regulators under the supervision of the European Commission

* European standards for operators, consumer protection, advertising and electronic identification

* More efficient national license application procedures avoiding duplication of administrative requirements and controls already verified in another Member State

* Consistent use of infringement procedures by the European Commission to ensure full compliance of Member States’ gambling legislation with EU law.

Sigrid Ligne also said that "This vote gives a clear direction to the European Commission that is in the process of concluding its Green Paper consultation launched in March 2011 and puts the spotlight back on Commissioner Michel Barnier who is leading the exercise. With the results of his consultation and the conclusions of the Commission’s expert workshops available, Commissioner Barnier has now all the evidence he needs to take action.

“Time is of the essence given that it is precisely now that Member States are pushing ahead and re-regulating their national online gambling markets. Today the Commission has received political support to initiate EU actions. But any EU level action can take years to be adopted and this cannot be a pretext for inaction against Member States that infringe EU law.

"As the guardian of the Treaties, the Commission must act to curb further fragmentation of the Internal Market by consistently declaring protectionist national regimes to be incompatible with EU law. Yesterday, Michel Barnier confirmed that the Commission would take its responsibilities in this respect so we now expect him to urgently address the new complaints received and the infringement back-log, an area where the Commission has taken no action since 2008," concluded Ligne.

The last Commission action concerning eight pending gambling infringement cases dates back to February 2008 when in spite of receiving several new complaints against national legislation they missed to open any new infringement cases since that date.

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