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Online gambling reforms - odds-on steady progress

30 May 2013

Online gambling reforms - odds-on steady progress

Proposed measures to revamp regulation of the online gaming industry represent a small step forward. The package of proposals was approved today by the European Parliament’s Single Market Committee.

Proposed measures to revamp regulation of the online gaming industry represent a small step forward. The package of proposals was approved today by the European Parliament’s Single Market Committee.

However the report’s author, ECR MEP Ashley Fox, said compromises and exclusions imposed during lengthy negotiations with other MEPs meant that the final report did not have the scope he would have preferred.

He explained: “Although this report has my name on it, it will not achieve as much as I had hoped – but you have to accept political reality and this does represent an amount of progress.

“We welcome progress on greater cooperation between national regulators, on the need to enforce EU law in Member States and on allowing self-exclusion registers to operate across the EU – which will let problem gamblers put themselves on a Europe-wide ‘banned’ list.

“There is also helpful encouragement in the report for the Commission to continue taking appropriate legal action against member states if they attempt to block an open market.”

“We are disappointed that MEPs have not taken the opportunity to enhance consumer protection through greater cooperation at EU level. We hope the Commission will work to make this possible as the legislation progresses.”

Mr Fox has a close interest in the online gambling industry and his South West region also includes Gibraltar, an important base for many internet gaming companies.

He said: “The online gaming industry is inherently cross-border. That is why I have been pushing for convergence of national systems, so that operators, such as those in Gibraltar, can distribute their products across the EU. Greater EU cooperation will also improve consumer protection, help prevent money laundering and match-fixing, and provide a forum for sharing best practice.

“In the future, I hope to see a system of common licensing, technical and consumer safety requirements, so that operators in jurisdictions such as Gibraltar can expand their business more freely. Any harmonisation of gambling regulation must be at the highest level to ensure consumer protection, and must be balanced to ensure consumers do not resort to using illegal gambling operators.

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