On 10 September 2013, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution on online gambling in the internal market (“Resolution”).
The Resolution was published in response to a communication adopted by the European Commission in October 2012 entitled “Towards a comprehensive European Framework for online gambling” (“Communication”). The regulation of online gambling in Member States is characterised by a large diversity of regulatory frameworks. The Communication identified the key challenges posed by the co-existence of national regulatory frameworks and set out an Action Plan to enhance clarity throughout the EU for the benefit of national authorities, operators, consumers and related industry providers (such as payment service or media service providers).
The Resolution calls for a balanced and EU compliant approach when regulating the online gaming industry in Europe and contains more than 50 policy statements on topics including consumer protection, compliance with EU law, administrative cooperation, money laundering and integrity of sports. Summarising its key statements, the Resolution:
- recognises that each Member State should have the right to determine how to organise gambling services but calls for a number of measures to ensure that such services comply with the principles of the EU Single Market;
- urges a high level of protection for consumers;
- calls for the promotion of legal websites marked with trustmarks to improve consumer confidence;
- calls for more responsible advertising which limits advertising to minors and vulnerable people;
- seeks EU-wide recognition of and interoperability between national self-exclusion registers so gamblers can exclude themselves from gambling across the EU; and
- calls for cooperation to tackle match fixing and strong measures to tackle money laundering.
Online gambling services are widely offered throughout the EU and the economic significance of the sector continues to grow. Online technology is developing rapidly and gambling services can operate across borders and outside the control of Member States' responsible authorities. It is hoped that the Resolution will encourage formalised cooperation between Member State regulators, ensuring EU citizens a high level of protection.