EGBA: EU policies need to be responsive, flexible and borderless

The European Gaming and Betting Association has issued a further review of the EU’s approach to online gambling, as a new mandate of the European Union institutions begins.

Calling a previously issued soft, non-binding recommendation “somewhat paradoxical” in being deemed a sufficient measure to nudge all member states into ensuring a high level of consumer protection for their online players, the group has again emphasised concerns about the cross border nature of gambling protections.

Stressing that regulating a borderless online environment requires policies which are “responsive, flexible, and borderless,” the EGBA believes future introductions must go beyond national borders to establish a more common European regulatory basis.

“Europe’s diverging online gambling rules are problematic for protecting consumers,” says By Dr Margaret Carran, City University of London.

“All member states care and wish to adequately protect their players but, substantively, the differences in national approaches to regulating online gambling are difficult to justify”

The report reemphasises five key reasons why more EU policy would benefit online gamblers and minors, looking into the popular and inherently cross-border nature of online gambling and stressing that there is a patchwork of national rules and no single market.

Furthermore, the group also delves into why current EU consumer protection standards are inadequate and diverge significantly, there is no formal framework for regulatory cooperation between EU countries and EU rules are not being enforced in the sector.

Addressing the issue in the EGBA’s latest ‘Online Gambling Focus,’ Maarten Haijer, secretary general of the authority, explains: “It is already clear that a major objective of the new EU institutions share is to make the EU single market fit for the increasingly digitalised economic world. 

“This will require EU regulations which keep pace with the internet’s rapid technological development, fully protect the rights and interests of online consumers and lead to online markets less impeded by national borders. 

“There is no doubt that technological step-changes have raised legitimate questions about how the rights of European consumers, the interests of businesses, and good regulation can intersect harmoniously in the online world. 

“I recognise these challenges. Because in the past ten years the digital revolution has moved gambling from traditional bookmaker shops into the computers, phones and tablets of millions of Europeans. And with its increasing popularity comes an even greater responsibility to ensure a safer and consistent online gambling environment. The challenge is obvious.”