European Commission to Unveil Online Gambling Recommendations

The Headlines The European Commission is due to release details of their recommendations on advertising standards and consumer protection for the online betting market. There are currently few standard practices across EU nations for the control of advertising and protection of users of online gambling sites.

In the next few weeks, the European Commission are due to release draft details and recommendations to harmonise regulations. Background The rapidly changing online gambling business, plus the lack of any formal EU standards, has led to each country adopting their own rules, so in 2011, the CommissionВ outlined an agreement on ”Responsible Remote Gambling Measures.”

This was the first such agreement to cover the whole of the EU, and largely covered protection for users and what advertising is acceptable. With the trade body, The European Gaming and Betting Association working on the measures as well, it is hoped that a balanced approach will protect both consumers and the industry. There are an estimated 7 million Europeans who bet online, making up almost 15% of the global market, and the Commission is hoping that proper regulations will encourage them to use authorised sites and keep away from the unregulated ones.

New Proposals The Commission is looking at several different aspects that will work to avoid problem gambling, protect minors, and encourage advertisers to act responsibly. Existing gambling operators who operate across the Union will be working with the Commission to develop systems that will ensure only over-18’s use the sites, while not making it so difficult to register that potential customers use un-regulated sites instead.

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Measures could include prominent warnings that underage users cannot access the websites, to electronic verification systems that have proved very effective in the past. To discourage problem gambling, there are recommendations that players should be able to self restrict spending, or block themselves from gambling websites, while the Commission has noted that whatever the local regulations, levels of gambling addiction are similar across member states.

It has also been proposed that any new regulatory body should be given powers to track banned players. Once the recommendations are published, online gambling operators will be expected to follow them, and the EU will consider making them legally binding if this does not happen to their satisfaction.