The online gambling market is growing rapidly with betting being the biggest sector. National levels of demand vary across the EU. With an estimated 6.84 million consumers, in 2012 annual revenues were €10.54 billion.
European Parliament’s Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) follows developments in the sector actively and has set out the Parliament’s approach regarding online gambling in a series of three resolutions over the past years.
As a result, the European Parliament adopted the resolution of 10 September 2013 on online gambling in the internal market, in which it also “calls on the Commission and the Member States to introduce effective measures to raise awareness of the risks of gambling addiction, targeting young people in particular”.
The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) in May 2013 published the briefing ‘Online gambling in the EU‘, summarising the European approach and the national frameworks.
There is no specific EU legislation on online gambling services. Gambling is regulated by the Member States. It is considered an economic activity which falls under the free movement of services and establishment. However, several restrictions have been considered justified since there are a number of risks associated with gambling.
Online gambling in the EU is characterised by a diversity of regulatory frameworks. Some Member States have monopolistic regimes run either by a public or a private operator on the basis of an exclusive right. Others have established licensing systems for more than one operator.
The European Commission (EC) launched in March 2011 a Green Paper and public consultation on online gambling, followed, in October 2012, by the communication ‘Towards a comprehensive European framework for online gambling‘.
The European Commission decided it was not appropriate at this stage to propose sector-specific EU legislation. Instead, the Commission adopted on 14 July 2014 the recommendation on online gambling. The non-binding recommendation, addressed to EU Member States, encourages Member States to protect consumers, players and minors through the adoption of principles for online gambling services and for responsible advertising and sponsorship of those services.
The European Commission has declared that the aims of the principles are to safeguard health and to minimise the eventual economic harm that may result from compulsive or excessive gambling.
I think the EC does more than enough to safe guard the public, it gives member states the opportunity to put in place their own legislation through the recommendations. Responsibility should fall on the member state to properly regulate such activities.