Remote Gaming Association’s Reaction to European Commission’s Action Plan

After the European Commission gave its press conference on Oct. 23, the Remote Gaming Association - a trade body representing most of Europe and the UK's major internet gambling firms – issued a statement of its own regarding the Commission’s action plan for online gambling, addressed at the press conference.

Namely, the Association was glad to hear about the Commission’s renewed commitment to the compliance of all EU national regulatory frameworks with EU law and principles, at the same time calling for better cooperation between EU regulators.

In its statement, the RGA notes: "It is clear from the Communication that the Commission will now without delay resume investigations against non-compliant Member States and, if necessary, open new proceedings.

"To this end, the Staff Working Document accompanying the Communication provides 'red lines' that Member States should not cross when regulating or seeking to prohibit online gambling,"

In addition, it has been proposed by the commission to broaden the scope of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive to all forms of gambling, but also to implement two key formal Recommendations in 2013 on common minimum protection standards for consumers, and responsible gambling advertising.

Putting a particular stress on its support to dealing with match-fixing, the RGA expressed belief that fight against corruption in general will have a strong partner in the betting industry, and that it should not be used as a pretext for taking over control over the betting sector.

Finally, the organization welcomed the formation of an 'expert group' that will encourage dialogue and facilitate formal administrative cooperation between national authorities, including a possible common testing standard.

Commenting on the Commission’s plan, Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the RGA, said: “We look forward to discussing the detail of these proposals, but in the main they appearto be worthy attempts to address the headline issues. In the longer term we hope that they will lead to greater regulatory consistency across the EU and bring an end to the completely fragmented market that has developed so far.

"We will continue to engage and work with the European Commission and other stakeholders so that governments and consumers can have confidence in the regulation of our industry.

"It is equally important that the licensed private sector online gambling industry is treated fairly and in accordance with EU law. At the moment there are over 30 complaints against Member State laws and regulations that are apparently in breach of EU law.

“There has been no action since 2008 on a single complaint or infringement proceeding. The Commission’s credibility as guardian of the Treaty can only be guaranteed if it now proceeds with the rapid and substantive action that Commissioner Barnier has indicated will take place”.

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