Press relesa of EGBA
Today’s adoption of an own initiative report by the European Parliament on “The integrity of online gambling” is overshadowed by the support of a wide range of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to an alternative report.
The alternative report was backed by MEPs representing at least 9 Member States and the three main European political parties. It seeks to approach online gaming and betting in a more practical way, in line with the cross-border nature of the sector and taking into consideration both the challenges and opportunities offered in this area by the Internet technology.
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomes this alternative report, which reflects an important move within the European Parliament towards more workable solutions.
The confusing majority report lead by Danish socialist MEP Schaldemose, indeed calls on the Commission to “carry out studies and make appropriate proposals” while insisting at the same time on “the Member States right to regulate (the online gaming sector) in accordance with their traditions and cultures”. This report being split between a national or a community approach, therefore fails to make any clear recommendation on actions to be taken.
What is clear however is that no harmonised EU legislation is foreseeable in the near future due to lack of political will of both Member States and the European Parliament. This was first evidenced by the discussions within the Council initiated recently by the French Presidency and now by clear divisions amongst MEPs expressed in the context of the own initiative report.
So what’s next?
The establishment of a European Code of Conduct, supported by the alternative report, currently appears as the best practical option in the near future to ensure that EU licensed operators offering their services cross-border abide throughout the EU to a common and consistent set of responsible standards.
Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of the EGBA said “Today’s vote shows that we cannot expect an EU harmonised legislation to be adopted in the near future. This clearly means that it is the rules of the Treaty and the case law of the Court of Justice that continue to apply and that will prevail for our sector in the years to come”.
The only tangible EU initiatives in the pipeline to enforce the right of EU operators to a non-discriminatory market access are the current infringements which were launchedby the Commission some years ago. These infringements need now urgently to be brought to the next level with all non-cooperative Member States including Germany, Sweden or Denmark.