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EU Suggests Interstate Cooperation for Gambling Regulation

13 December 2010 by admin

european_unionIn a somewhat controversial move, a European Union (EU) council is suggesting greater cooperation among governments relating to internet gambling. The EU’s Competitiveness Council is now saying that confining regulation to a national level is a mistake and EU member states need to work together.

Currently EU member states are not allowed to block other member states from participating in their market. Except under special circumstances, gambling monopolies are not allowed if they exclude another EU nation from competing in the market. Despite the cooperation as far as allowing foreign competition, each nation handles its own regulation. Now the EU Competitiveness Council is recommending a change, saying that the nature of online commerce makes it difficult to regulate at a national level and that all member states should cooperate with each other.

european union flagWhile cooperation isn’t a bad thing, some comments from the EU have raised eyebrows. In particular, the suggestion raises questions of sovereignty, which have been hotly debated since before the European Union even formed. Each nation’s laws are already subject to EU approval, but with increased international cooperation, it’s only a matter of time before the EU instead opts for one regulatory authority for Europe.

In fact, that seems to be something at which the EU is hinting. The Council stated that “online gambling is a particular problem due to its cross-border nature.” They invited individual states’ governments to “cooperate more closely to protect consumers, to share experiences and practices” and to identify those with gambling problems as well as those who are gambling illegally or cheating.

The council suggested that discussions were needed on a European level of gambling regulation. If a European regulatory framework is established, it would be done in the name of protection, but some worry it could be bad for individual states.

Despite the possible risk of each EU nation giving up the rights to regulate their own internet gambling market, the statement was praised by some in the industry. In particular, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), which is not tied to any particular nation, was very happy. The EGBA believes that stronger cross-border cooperation is needed and “fully supports the commission in its efforts.”

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