EU to tighten up online gambling rules as business booms

Jul 14, 2014
The online gambling website of 888 holdings is pictured surrounded by a deck of cards in London on November 6, 2006

The EU said Monday it wanted tighter rules to regulate the fast developing online gambling industry in an effort to better protect minors and coordinate a huge but fragmented market.

Online gambling, stretching from poker to sports betting, has exploded worldwide in recent years and in Europe in particular.

European Union data shows that in 2012, seven million Europeans gambled online, making up a huge 45-percent share of the world market, which according to industry data, was worth $33 billion (24 billion euros) that year.

The explosion in European began in a smaller group of member states, including Britain and Malta, where companies flourished, drawing in gamblers from around the world.

Other member states—such as France and the Netherlands—for many years delayed growth, keen to not only protect consumers but lucrative state gambling monopolies as well.

Under pressure from Brussels, these countries have now opened up their markets, although at varying levels.

"We must better protect all citizens, and in particular our children, from the risks associated with gambling," said the EU's internal market and services commissioner, Michel Barnier.

"We now look to the member states, but also to online gambling operators, to match our ambition for a high level of consumer protection throughout the EU in this fast growing digital sector," he said.

The main elements of the recommendations include clearer warnings on websites, more rigorous registration procedures to ward off minors, and a ready access to helplines for gambling addicts.

Advertising should also be regulated, the EU said, and free of "unfounded statements about chances of winning" or of pressure to gamble.

The European gambling industry, eager for less fragmentation, welcomed the recommendations, which are non-binding.

"European consumers deserve to be equally well protected throughout the EU, wherever they reside," said Maarten Haijer, head of the European Gaming and Betting Association.

An EU-wide policy for online "is evidently necessary for this cross-border internet sector," he added.

Gambling is a hot-button issue in many member states, seen as both a source of state revenue and the potential cause of harm.

The Commission said it chose to draft recommendations, instead of outright legislation, as the latter takes too long and risks failure.

With several member states in the process of devising national legislation, the EU recommendations can be used a guidance, the Commission said.

Explore further: Casino lobby drops pro-Internet gambling advocacy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU tightens up online gambling controls

Oct 23, 2012

The European Commission outlined measures on Tuesday to tighten controls on online gambling, a fast-growing, multi-billion-euro industry, to combat fraud, money laundering and rigging of sport fixtures.

Recommended for you

Britain's UKIP issues online rules after gaffes

22 hours ago

UK Independence Party (UKIP), the British anti-European Union party, has ordered a crackdown on the use of social media by supporters and members following a series of controversies.

Sony saga blends foreign intrigue, star wattage

22 hours ago

The hackers who hit Sony Pictures Entertainment days before Thanksgiving crippled the network, stole gigabytes of data and spilled into public view unreleased films and reams of private and sometimes embarrassing ...

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

Dec 18, 2014

The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BSD
not rated yet Jul 15, 2014
It's not science

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.