EU Ministers Discuss Online Gambling - Online Casino Home


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EU Ministers Discuss Online Casino Gambling

December 4, 2008

The European Union consists of 27 nations each with their divergent views on online gambling. 7 nations have banned online gambling, 13 nations allow free private enterprise, 6 nations have state-owned monopolies and 1 nation has licensed a private monopoly. While land based gambling can be dealt with nationally, online gambling cannot because of easy cross border access to online casinos. It is a sensitive issue in many countries because it involves tax revenues and national traditions. However the EU supports free movements of goods and services between its nation states and therefore is pressing for reaching a common consensus on this issue.

The draft document to be placed before the meeting states, “While the legal frameworks differ, there are significant similarities in the member states’ objectives as regards gambling and betting.” The common ground covers issues like fighting money laundering, fraud and corruption; preventing underage and problem gambling; a possible cap on individual payouts and the elimination of double taxation.

The differing legal framework is the barrier that will be difficult to surmount. The nations that have monopolistic institutions are not only unwilling to open the gambling sector to local private enterprise but are also framing laws to keep out online casinos from other countries. The nations that have a liberalized online gambling regime are pushing the other nations to open up their markets.

France, which has a state licensed monopoly, is under pressure from the European Commission to liberalize its online gambling regime in a phased but time bound manner. However France currently holds the EU presidency and is therefore chairing the meeting of EU Ministers on online gambling. France is advocating regulation of the multi billion dollar online gambling industry through a common EU bloc policy. It is believed to have obtained the support of a dozen EU countries. This move is strongly being opposed by Britain and Malta who favor self-regulation by the industry. They are of the opinion that France is using this forum to hold on to the monopolistic online gambling regime it currently enjoys. Malta is an online gaming jurisdiction that licenses online gaming operations and it is in the interest of its licensees that the European national monopolies are done away with. Britain has already liberalized its online gambling laws and allows online operators from certain jurisdictions to advertise in Britain.

Another point that is bound to be raised by those who favor self-regulation is the study conducted by eCOGRA on behalf of the European Gaming and Betting Association. The study revealed that the private online gambling operators exhibit better response to customer protection, fairness, advocacy of responsible gambling and other similar issues than the state owned monopolies.

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