Thursday, 5th July 2012
EU warning over persistent breaches of online gambling rules
Europe’s internal market services commissioner Michel Barnier has warned that some EU countries could face court action over persistent breaches of online gambling rules.
Mr Barnier was speaking at a meeting on Wednesday night during which he also outlined the European Commission’s plans to regulate the sector.
The French official said regulators will work with the industry to formulate a framework that protected consumers while permitting responsible legal gambling. But he said that EU rules must be adhered to and that several countries– he did not name them - would be cautioned about activities in their jurisdiction.
“I will ask my department to contact all the Member States concerned by ongoing cases or complaints in order to remind them of the applicable rules and suggest that any problematic situations are rectified in line with current case law,” he told the meeting.
“If blatant infringements persist, I will not hesitate to propose to my colleagues that the appropriate proceedings be taken or relaunched.”
Mr Barnier confirmed that the Commission would table an ‘action plan’ in the autumn designed to “effectively” regulate and supervise online betting and gambling.
A consultation process on the issue with relevant stakeholders had attracted 250 responses and proved a “great success”, he said.
The Commission’s aim is to protect consumers and all citizens while responding to the legitimate expectations of online betting and gambling operators working to serve increased demand.
The Commission estimates that almost seven million Europeans gamble online.
“Our aim must be to provide protection for these consumers, as indeed we must protect all citizens against potential risks…whatever their Member State of residence,” Mr Barnier said.
“No Member State can deal alone with all the risks associated with this activity.”
Key goals of the EU action plan include protecting minors, treating gambling addiction and clamping down on illegal websites.