Online Gambling Trade Associations Support E.u. Consumer Protection

EGBA and RGA welcome European Commission's recommendations

The influential online gambling trade body European Gaming and Betting Association says it fully endorses the European Commission's recommendation for the common protection of consumers of online gambling services in the EU.

The recommendations contain a series of concrete and practical measures that allow Member States to implement a common high level of consumer protection measures throughout the Union, EGBA explained in a statement Monday, adding that its goal is to ensure that gambling remains a source of entertainment; that minors are prevented from gambling and that consumers are provided a safe gambling environment throughout the EU.

A spokesman said that the recommendation is in line with the CEN workshop agreement on Responsible Remote Gambling Measures, which the Members of EGBA already voluntarily adhere to and are regularly audited against.

The Association also agrees with the Commission that with the current fragmentation of the EU market resulting from the national licensing regimes "…the multiplication of compliance requirements can create unnecessary duplication of infrastructure and costs, resulting in an unnecessary administrative burden on regulators."

Maarten Haijer, secretary general of EGBA said: "European consumers deserve to be equally well protected throughout the EU, wherever they reside. EGBA fully supports the Commission's approach. The members of EGBA already impose upon themselves very strict rules regarding consumer protection as we firmly believe that an attractive and responsible gambling environment are two sides of the same coin."

Haijer added that his association is pleased that the European Commission is taking the lead in implementing an EU policy for online gambling, which is necessary for this cross-border internet sector.

"We encourage the Commission to fully implement its action plan and address the fragmentation of the EU market with similar actions and legislative initiatives," he concluded.

The EC recommendation is part of the European Union policy on online gambling as developed in the Commission's Action Plan of 2012 and supported by the European Parliament. Although it is not a legally binding instrument, Member States are encouraged to implement it so as to ensure consumers and minors are protected at a similar high level throughout the EU.

The Commission will review its implementation by the Member States in 24 months after the publication in the official journal of the EU.

In related news, the UK trade association Remote Gaming Association has also supported the recommendations.

"Although there are a small number of details that the RGA would like to discuss further with stakeholders, it is fully supportive of the Commission's work in this area and of the vast majority of its findings," a spokesman said Monday.

"The only fundamental concern is that the measures focus solely on online gambling when it is self-evident that consistent and appropriate consumer protection should apply to all forms of gambling."

Clive Hawkswood, the RGA's chief executive, added: "Despite our reservations about a very small number of the recommendations, we are fully supportive of the thrust of the Commission's work and the reasonable and proportionate approach it has adopted towards consumer protection.

"We look forward to continuing our discussions both with the Commission and, crucially, with individual Member States as they consider whether and how to implement these proposals.

"These recommendations are a small step in the right direction which we hope will spur a further opening of the market across the EU. However any changes flowing from them will of course be at the discretion of Member States and therefore we are still a very long way from achieving anything that looks like a real internal market for gambling services."

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