The European Gambling and Betting Association (EGBA) has initiated formal infringement proceedings against six European Union member states whose online gambling legislation does not comply with legislation laid out by the EGBA.
Among those are Belgium, Cyprus, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic. According to the EGBA, these countries do not comply with guidelines which require states to allow operators to enter their internet wagering market. In the case of Sweden, a formal request was issued compelling that country to amend its legislation to conform to EU rules. France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and the Netherlands are also under investigation, but no formal decision has yet been made.
The complaints are based on the conflict between individual member state’s national gambling laws and EU gambling laws. More specifically, national rules which prohibit gambling services authorised in certain member states currently restrict the freedom of residents to receive services offered in other member states. The EU is now compelling states to justify their restrictive national laws. The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) CEO Clive Hawkswood said, “The announcement is a step in the right direction for an online gambling industry that has suffered for too long from legal uncertainty and unjustified market closures.”
Furthermore, gambling licensing regimes must be transparent, non-discriminating and non-arbitrary. Most importantly, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has clarified that national regulation must be consistent in its objectives and measures and that it is for the Member State to prove that national measures which restrict online gambling are necessary.
Some commentators have commended the EGBA on this moving, pointing out that formal regulation of the European gambling industry is long overdue. Besides establishing a regulatory framework for online gambling, the EGBA also intends to open up national gambling markets to allow competition in the industry.