Stalling or a genuine search for a common regulatory regime?

The Reuters news agency reports that European Union member nations are to consider the possibilitities for harmonised egaming regulation within the trade bloc in meetings scheduled for December 1st 2008.

Monopolised individual gambling regimes and attempts to exclude online offerings from other countries have bedevilled attempts to establish a uniform set of online gambling regulations that would allow companies within EU member nations to enjoy free movement of goods and services. However, Reuters reports that member states may be shifting their stance on online gaming in a search for a common approach to regulating the sector, in the process ending years of deadlock and confrontation with The Europeam Commission charged with ensuring compliance with EU principles.

A copy of the EU document obtained by the news agency stated: "While the legal frameworks differ, there are significant similarities in the member states' objectives as regards gambling and betting."

European ministers will discuss the document on December 1, with some changes anticipated from states strongly opposed to any kind of opening up of monopolised gaming sectors.

The Reuters reports reveals that the issues that will be debated will include cooperation between national regulatory bodies to combat money laundering, fraud and corruption; a cap on pay-outs to players and an end to "double-taxation by taxing gaming where it takes place".

France, which currently holds the EU presidency, is reported to feel that there are "already grounds for seeking a common approach," with the country's budget minister Eric Woerth quoted as saying that Europe may have to look at finding a regulatory solution for allowing the industry to work across borders and countries.

Cynics opined to Reuters that the French position may be merely a delaying tactic. Under pressure from the European Commission, the French are under the gun to submit draft regulations for the phased and controlled liberation of the French betting industry in December.

Reuters quotes Sigrid Ligne, Secretary General of the European Gaming and Betting Association, as saying: "In the end it's going to be back to the Commission to decide if it can take any further steps or if there is any need to do something new or different in the issue."

The report claims that a dozen EU states are said to be supportive of the common approach to regulating in Europe, although Britain and Malta were critical of the concept.

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