European Parliament approves plans for online gambling shake-up

Proposals for a major revamp of European regulation covering online gambling were approved by MEPs today.

Proposals for a major revamp of European regulation covering online gambling were approved by MEPs today.

The package of measures, suggested in a report by British ECR MEP Ashley Fox, aims to make Europe’s online gambling market cleaner, more trustworthy and more responsive to problem gambling.

Mr Fox recognises that each Member State has the right to decide how to organise gambling services, but he calls for a number of measures to ensure such services comply with the principles of the EU single market. He also urges a high level of protection for consumers.

The report, approved by the European Parliament sitting in Strasbourg, calls on the European Commission to continue to enforce compliance of national gambling laws with EU law and for progress with ongoing infringement cases.

To help tackle problem gambling, Mr Fox seeks EU-wide recognition of national self-exclusion registers, so that addictive gamblers can ban themselves from sites right across Europe. He also wants to see co-operation to tackle match-fixing and strong measures to tackle money laundering.

Mr Fox, Conservative MEP for South West England, said: “Online gambling is a hugely important market, and as it continues to grow it will be crucial to strike the right regulatory balance.

“Too much over-burdensome or super-rigid legislation will stifle the economic potential of this market and may even lead to a growth in illicit and unauthorised gambling. Yet a complete lack of control or legal parameters will allow organised crime to flourish, leave consumers exposed and wary, and fail to protect either vulnerable young people or desperately addictive problem gamblers.

“I hope that this report encourages formalised cooperation between Member State regulators, and the sharing of best practice on gambling licensing systems. I am disappointed, though, that some of my attempts to open up the market to greater cross-border competition were resisted by protectionist elements on the Left and in the European People’s Party.

“Nevertheless, I do believe these recommendations can provide clear and helpful guidelines for future legislation.”

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