No single gambling law for EU – Commissioner

No single gambling law for EU – Commissioner

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 Totally Gaming
Bieńkowska wants Member States to set their own laws

The European Union (EU) will not pursue a common gambling legislation framework across the continent, according to European Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska.

The Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs reiterated the organisation’s opposition to a single regulatory approach, despite a seemingly continuous number of disputes between individual nations and the EU over policy.

Bieńkowska’s statement came in a letter to Italian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Mara Bizzotto, who had questioned whether a uniform approach was preferable following the ban on slot machines voted by the government of the Province of Vienna.

Bizzotto highlighted that Vienna chose to “prioritise the fight against gambling addiction” rather than focus on the €43m ($48) income from the slots, and asked if “an attempt to harmonise legislation within Member States may be necessary”.

“The Commission does not consider to propose sector-specific EU legislation on gambling services nor is it planning a specific awareness campaign regarding gambling,” Bieńkowska stated in a written answer issued on May 13.

“The Parliament's 2011 Resolution on Online Gambling in the internal market rejected the option of EU harmonisation uniformly regulating the gambling sector.

“In the absence of harmonisation at EU level, it is the responsibility and competence of national authorities to establish rules relating to the location of venues where slot machines are played.”

The statement from Bieńkowska was welcomed by the Brussels-based European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) industry body, whose members include Betclic, bwin.party and Unibet.

Secretary general Maarten Haijer told TotallyGaming.com that the priority of EGBA members was cross-border cooperation rather than a uniform policy. 

Haijer told TotallyGaming.com: “The Commission has set out its policy on online gambling in the 2012 Communication, including that it would not propose sector specific legislation at this stage, and is currently in the progress of executing the action plan that is part of the Communication.

“We strong support these actions, including the recommendation on consumer protection and the enforcement of EU law.

“We are in regular contact with Member States and it is clear that when they are confronted with the challenges of regulating the online market they are increasingly aware that more cross-border cooperation is needed.

“We support the Commission in continuing with its action plan to help address those cross border challenges.”

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