Maarten Hajer- EGBA calls for Common EU Rulebook on gambling protections

Writing a guest post on European Union news portal, Maarten Hajer Secretary General of the European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA), argues that the EU should consider adopting a federal framework on regulating online gambling.

“With more than 20 percent of EU gambling now taking place online, regulations must catch up to avoid failing the millions of EU citizens who bet online” details Hajer’s opening statement.

The EGBA’s Secretary General details that industry leadership is committed to reducing problem-gambling harms, which in general effect 1% of European online gambling consumers.

However, Hajer details that coherent EU policy is needed to keep up with regulating an industry which services an ‘inherently cross border activity’.

An inconsistent regulatory framework, set by member states has led to differing standards protecting online gambling consumers, and in some cases with markets refusing to implement core safeguards on self-exclusion and underage player warnings.  

The EGBA points to research undertaken by the University of London, reviewing online gambling guidelines and best practices recommended by the European Commission in 2014.

The University study, found that only Denmark had moved to fully implement the EC’s recommendation, with the Commission failing to review take-up of its guidelines.

Hajer adds: “These are major failings in the effort to keep Europe’s citizens and gamblers safe online — and they could easily be avoided. Even some basic safeguards are not available everywhere in the EU.”

That is why the EGBA calls for more common EU rules and safeguards to better protect Europe’s more than 12 million online gamblers. A common rulebook would establish the strong and consistent safeguards needed to protect Europe’s citizens, particularly vulnerable groups, such as minors and problem gamblers.”

Disrupting procedures, Hajer states that the EU and the European Court Justice was mistaken in dropping its regulatory guidance/arbitration of member state gambling legislation, which have led to inconsistent frameworks for stakeholders.  

In 2017, the ECJ detailed that it would no longer enforce EU laws on gambling sector regulations, detailing that national policy, standards and legislations would be ultimately determined by member state governments.

“It is 2019: If the EU is really serious about making the digital single market work for its consumers, there is no reason why online gamblers living in one member country should be less protected than those living in another. It is time to act”.