Stronger together: ECA continues fight against illicit operators
Stronger together: ECA continues fight against illicit operators
The European Casino Association (ECA) represents national associations and individual operators of licensed land-based casinos in Europe. As a key touchpoint for the European casino industry, the association places a strong focus on combating illegal forms of gambling, whilst at the same time promoting the industry through a range of conferences, events and meetings throughout the year.
Reflecting on the past 12 months, ECA chairman Per Jaldung said: “2016 has been a successful year for the European Casino Association. We were delighted to welcome San Marino and Montenegro as our newest members and are proud to now represent the interests of approximately 900 casinos and over 70,000 employees in 26 countries across Europe.”
According to Jaldung, the Brussels-based association has been active in the field of illicit gambling during the year. “We published a position paper on illegal gambling services that called on the European Commission and all policy-makers to develop a comprehensive approach to tackle this growing issue,” he said.
“We suggest some concrete tools that policy-makers can use to combat illegal gambling. For instance, a combination of tools such as payment and IP blocking, as well as the creation of white lists and black lists to inform consumers, banks, media and internet service providers could prove useful to combat illegal gambling.”
As the voice of the licensed land-based casino industry in Europe, the ECA’s role is not only to combat illegal gambling. In addition to facilitating dialogue between its members, the association has also been focusing on numerous events that serve to promote the industry and recognise the efforts of its employees.
“For us, the highlights of the year are always the inspiring events we organise,” Jaldung explained. “Like, for instance, the annual European Dealer Championship, which brings together Europe’s best dealers in order to crown Europe’s champion.”
The European Dealer Championship, which has been hosted by the ECA every year since 2007, has been growing in scale. This year’s finals took place at the lively Holland Casino in Breda, with the country’s Ray de Rozario scooping the European Dealer of the Year trophy and a cash prize of €3,000.
“We are already planning the 2017 edition, which will be held in May at the stunning Hippodrome Casino in London,” Jaldung said. “Another highlight for us and our members was the ECA summer meeting held at the famous Casinò di Venezia. Organised together with the Italian umbrella association, Federgioco, the two-day event brought together more than 40 representatives of all member casinos and associations.”
At the recent ECA winter board meeting, the association discussed its goals for 2017. “We want to continue to be a reliable partner for the EU institutions and provide the direct experience from the casino floor in the various ongoing discussions at the political level – on topics such as illegal gambling, anti-money laundering and online gambling, as well as the positive impact of the land-based casino industry to society,” Jaldung said.
“This should be seen in terms of work opportunities, diversity, integration, business opportunities for all related services and goods, such as hotels, taxis, cleaning, flowers and landscaping, food and beverages and construction.”
In addition to his role as chairman of the ECA, Jaldung remains head of Casino Cosmopol, which operates Sweden’s four nationally-owned casinos. Discussing the year’s trading for the company, he said: “2016 has been a great year for Casino Cosmopol in many ways.
“We have improved our gaming floors with new slot machines and introduced new table games. Our shows and restaurants have also been revamped and are popular and appreciated by our patrons.”
He added: “We will publish the public figures for 2016 in February or March, and, yes, the results are reflected in the overall annual report of our parent company, Svenska Spel.”
Earlier this year, the ECA announced it had formed a transatlantic partnership with the American Gaming Association. The partnership was formed amid the rising global nature of illegal gaming and for finding best practice in implementing measures against money laundering.
For Jaldung, consumer safety, the prevention of problem gambling and preventing criminal activities are key duties for the gaming industry that are under threat from illegal operators. And to further strengthen themselves in the ongoing fight against illicit gambling, the ECA has an open approach.
“We are in regular and close contact with other stakeholders in the sector, such as lottery and pari mutuel providers, as well as other organisations such as the European Association for the Study of Gambling. For us this is a rich opportunity to learn from each other and exchange best practices to address common issues for the entire gambling sector.
“With the global dimension of illegal gambling, a transatlantic and global approach is essential,” Jaldung explained. “For both our organisations, it is important to put pressure on policy-makers to assure that the ethos that land-based casinos stand for is upheld in the entire gambling sector.”
As a new year approaches, the ECA is preparing for the 2017 International Casino Conference (ICC), which again takes place at London’s Hippodrome Casino on 6 February.
Providing a preview to the conference in 2017, Jaldung said: “The topic of this year’s ICC, which is once again organised in collaboration with our partner Clarion, is focused on the future of the casino industry. We will discuss how the casino sector can incorporate new trends and attract new generations through new channels.
“The global outlook of this year, which will see noteworthy speakers from across the world, will be a great opportunity to discuss fresh ideas, regulatory developments and trends from different regions of the world at a high level.”
TotallyGaming says: Gambling, by its very nature, is becoming an increasingly global phenomenon, and this presents operators with a range of new cross-border opportunities. However, this global dimension is also liable to exploitation by providers of illegal gambling services, who hide beyond the fringes of legislation. Industry associations and trade bodies such as the ECA continue in their fight against illegal gambling, and their own increasingly global scope is helping to protect not only the responsible, legal operators, but ultimately the end consumer.