By Patrick Van Eecke and Antoon Dierick

The European Parliament today published its Report on online gambling in the internal market calling for a balanced and EU compliant approach when regulating the market.

The European Parliament Resolution contains more than 50 policy statements directed towards the market, the European Commission and the Member States.

The Resolution elaborates on 5 different topics: consumer protection, compliance with EU law, administrative cooperation, money laundering and integrity of sports.

For example, the European Parliament calls for:

Specific nature of the online gambling sector and consumer protection

  • to take enforcement measures against offers for illegal gambling in its planned recommendations on consumer protection and advertising;
  • to explore measures at EU level to protect vulnerable consumers, including formalised cooperation between regulatory authorities in the Member States;
  • operators to be obliged to display clear, prominent and explicit warnings to minors stating that it is illegal for them to engage in online gambling;
  • to explore the possibility of EU-wide interoperability between national self-exclusion registers that include self-exclusion, personal loss and time limits, and that are accessible to national authorities and licensed gambling operators
  • to fully respect age and identity verification mechanisms and to consider implementing a compulsory third-party identification control in order to exclude minors or persons using fake identities from playing
  • to encourage responsible advertising in relation to online gambling

Compliance with EU law

  • Member States should retain the right to impose the restrictions they deem necessary and justified to address illegal online gambling in order to implement national legislation and exclude illegal providers from market access
  • Member States have the right to determine how the offer of online gambling services is to be organised and regulated at national level, and the right to enforce all measures they consider necessary against illegal gambling services, BUT by observing the basic EU Treaty principles
  • The Commission should continue to launch infringement procedures against those Member States that appear to breach EU law
  • to look into and addressing the problem of tax avoidance by authorised operators who provide online gambling services on the EU market but have their registered offices in tax havens within or outside the EU;
  • Member States that choose to open up their online gambling sector must provide for a transparent and legally certain licensing application procedure based on objective and non-discriminatory criteria, in full compliance with EU law and with sufficient and strict citizen and consumer protection

Administrative cooperation

  • Member States to share best practices and information to facilitate the establishment of a common system for identifying players, enforcement measures against illegal operators, enhance protection of consumers, responsible advertising, establishment of white and black lists, prevent match-fixing and make self-exclusion mechanisms that include, inter alia, personal time and money limits applicable throughout the EU;
  • action to combat match-fixing must comply with national and European data protection laws and regulations;
  • to work in close collaboration with all stakeholders, including the gambling industry and consumer organisations;
  • to bring national tax regimes for gambling services into line with one other;
  • to allow operation of a gambling company within a Member State jurisdiction only when said company does not operate in contravention of the law in another Member State

Money laundering

  • to extend the provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive to include all forms of gambling;
  • all the online gambling companies operating in the EU area need to be registered as legitimate entities in the EU;
  • to engage in solid KYC mechanisms. Advantage can be taken of existing and developing online structures, such as online bank and credit-card verification systems

Integrity of sports

  • to initiate a code of conduct containing a general ban on all staff involved in sporting events who may have a direct influence on the result from placing bets on their own matches or events.
  • to have all sports governing bodies commit to good governance practices in order to reduce the risk of falling victim to match-fixing;
  • Member States and gambling operators to ban all forms of live sports betting;
  • to have an obligation for cooperation and exchange of information on suspicious activities at national as well as European level, among sports bodies, public authorities, Europol and Eurojust, in order to combat criminal cross-border online gambling activities;
  • to identify and prohibit online betting operators engaged in illegal activities such as, inter alia, match-fixing or betting on junior competitions involving minors and expects the online gambling industry to respect this ban through self-regulation;
  • to consider a ban on all forms of spot fixing (sic), such as gambling on corner kicks, free kicks, throw-ins and yellow cards;

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