EL, ECA and WoTa align in the fight against illegal online gambling

European Lotteries, the European Casino Association, and the World Tote Association have joined forces in a bid to harness the momentum to make Europe “fit for the digital age”.

This follows the European Commission calling for “an ambitious reform of the digital space” after revealing its Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act proposals, which subsequently gained backing from the European Gaming and Betting Association.

The trifecta states that “there has never been a better time to strengthen the fight against illegal online gambling,” which leaves consumers vulnerable as well as representing a key stumbling block in the fight against money laundering.

In an open letter from the alliance on the fight against illegal gambling, it is commented: “The Digital Services Act package foresees a notice-and-action mechanism. Such mechanism will enable all users to notify online intermediaries about potentially illegal online content or activities and to help the latter to react quickly and be more transparent regarding the actions taken. 

“Our alliance sees this as an important improvement in the fight against illegal online gambling offerings, and looks forward the enforcement and implementation of these measures by the involved stakeholders to protect the interests of all EU citizens.

“Illegal gambling operators offer their services online to players located in multiple EU member states without having obtained any license in such national markets. 

“These practices are illegal and detrimental for consumers and state budgets, as there is no mutual recognition of national licenses in the gambling sector within the EU and no sector-specific EU legislation in that field is needed.”

Furthermore, the EL, ECA and WoTa also move on to highlight a multitude of negative traits that are brought about by illegal gambling operators, namely that they: 

  • Do not respect the laws and regulations set up by the national regulators of the EU member states where they provide their services.
  • Make it practically impossible to protect consumers and especially a vulnerable population from the risks of overconsumption.
  • Can enhance the emergence of social problems and crime and constitute a major problem in the fight against money laundering.
  • Often do not pay taxes in the national markets where their players are located and do not contribute to any public good or specific charities.
  • Represent an unfair and unequal competition to the nationally licensed and authorised gambling operators, threatening their legal business models and the substantial sustainable economic and social contribution they provide to EU member states.

The alliance represents over 150 operators in the gambling and lottery sector in Europe, boasting 350 000 independent points of sale for lotteries and around 900 casinos, where together they contribute more than €35bn yearly to good causes and state budgets.