The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has called for the introduction of a specific set of consumer rights for the online gambling sector in the European Union.
The association claimed that despite the cross-border nature of gambling, online players are not equally protected throughout the EU, as each member state creates and implements its own gaming regulations.
It aruged that this lack of regulatory consistency jeopardises online players’ safety, as it could prompt them to gamble with black market operators.
Through the creation of a new European consumer agenda for gambling, EGBA said a higher level of player protection could be guaranteed. This in turn would increase transparency and legal certainty in the industry, and create balanced and fair contract terms, improving overall security for online gambling customers it said.
EGBA therefore called for sector-specific EU regulations covering consumer and minor protection. It claims that simple rules could be implemented which would ensure that all players were equally protected.
It gave the example of a European self-exclusion register, which would prohibit access to all regulated operators within the EU.
The association referenced a 2018 study published by City University London to support its argument, that concluded European players were exposed to “unequal and inadequate” levels of consumer protection, which varied depending on where they lived.
This study reviewed the implementation of the European Commission’s 2014 recommendation on principles for the protection of online gambling consumers, and for the prevention of minors from gambling online. Among the 2014 recommendations were safeguards for player identification, minor protection and social responsibilities. However, the study noted, just one member state had properly implemented the recommendations.
Another EGBA-commissioned study, examining regulation for gambling advertising across 15 member states, found that just 6 countries had specific legal rules on the protection of minors from exposure to gambling advertising.
The calls for consumer protection standards come after EGBA published the first pan-European code of conduct for responsible advertising in April this year. This puts a particular emphasis on protecting minors from exposure to gambling advertising.
However, EGBA added, efforts to develop standardised controls had been hindered by the dissolution of the European expert group for online gambling. The group, which brought together regulators from a number of markets, it said, provided an opportunity for gambling specialists to meet and exchange information, that has now been lost.