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EC Considering Regulation Of Online Gambling In EU

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The European Commission (EC) is deciding whether to regulate online gambling in
the European Union, after a consultation period with key stakeholders associated
with the issue concluded in July. The EU executive is expected to fully examine
the responses to the consultation before deciding whether to table draft
legislation to regulate the European online gambling market in 2012.

There is a move to regulate EU online gambling directives

Said Pamela Brumter-Coret, acting director of the EC’s Directorate-General for
the Internal Market and Services, ‘There’s an appetite for action at EU level
and it’s up to the College of Commissioners to decide what to put in its
communication, which will come out in 2012.’

A move to centralise EU online
gambling directives across the continent would be welcomed by most online
gambling operators as a way to ensure a ‘level playing field’ where online
gambling in Europe is concerned, especially considering how widely online
gambling legislation varies from country to country in Europe.

For instance, while a few countries – such as the UK –  boast fully legalised
and regulated online gambling industries, others have opted for a complete ban
or prohibition on the popular internet activity, including Sweden.

The UK justifies its liberal online gambling with taxes

Countries like the UK have justified their liberal online gambling stance by
citing the enormous taxes they generate for government coffers each year from
online gambling revenues, and the fact they have online gambling ‘watchdogs’ in
place to ensure player safety and operator integrity.

However, countries like
Sweden justify their anti-online gambling stances by associating online gambling
with fraud, match fixing, gambling addiction and money laundering.

Criticism for this vast ‘chasm’ between Europe’s various online gambling
markets has been laid at the feet of the EU because of the notable exclusion of
gambling activities from the EU’s Services Directive. The absence of EU online
gambling legislation has resulted in numerous rulings by the European Court of
Justice (ECJ) over the years, as well as a host of EC infringement procedures
lodged against various member states.

EU countries can ban online gambling based on the reason

These infringement procedures have been designed to verify whether the countries
concerned are in violation of Article 49 of the EU Treaty, which guarantees the
free movement of cross-border services, online gambling included.

The move to
centralise online gambling legislation across Europe received a blow in June
last year, when the ECJ ruled that EU countries are free to ban online gambling
within their borders provided their reasons are to combat fraud.

The European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee are
expected to publish their formal responses to the EC’s Green Paper on this issue
sometime next month.

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