Industry trade group the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has urged the European Union (EU) to introduce a ‘common rulebook’ of iGaming regulations in order to better protect consumers across the continent.
The EGBA, which represents the likes of Bet365, GVC Holdings and Kindred, has highlighted how the majority of current regulation in Europe is at national level, with little attention paid to cross-border activity.
Citing recent research, the EGBA has said that online gaming accounts for 21% of all gambling activity in Europe, but there are not enough laws in place to protect players, with around 1% of players having some form of gambling problem.
The EGBA has said the EU must look at implementing a common rulebook, as the quality of national gambling regulations in Europe varies significantly, with little consistency in frameworks in different markets.
“The challenges are obvious: the internet has no national borders, which means Europeans can easily play on gambling websites based in countries other than where they live,” EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer said. “This means Europeans are subject to very different sets of consumer protection standards when they play online, leaving some players much better protected than others.
“A common rulebook would establish the strong and consistent safeguards needed to protect Europe’s citizens, particularly vulnerable groups, such as minors and problem gamblers,” Haijer explained. “One set of rules would also benefit our members’ companies: one set of rules would be clear and would lessen the costs and risks of meeting 28 different, and sometimes conflicting, sets of rules.”
The call to action comes after the EGBA in December published a new report that suggested Denmark is currently the only EU member fully embracing consumer protection guidelines.
Commissioned by the EGBA and published by the City University London, the ‘Consumer Protection in EU Online Gambling Regulation’ review claims EU member states are putting the safety of consumers at risk with inadequate levels of protection.
The EGBA identified diverse levels of regulation across the EU, resulting in varying levels of consumer protection. Denmark is the only exception, with evidence of the country having introduced all European Commission measures in full.
Haijer added: “These are major failings in the effort to keep Europe’s citizens and gamblers safe online – and they could easily be avoided. Even some basic safeguards are not available everywhere in the EU.
“It is 2019: If the EU is really serious about making the digital single market work for its consumers, there is no reason why online gamblers living in one member country should be less protected than those living in another. It is time to act.”
Image: Alex Mihis