EGBA Supports Revival of Expert Group on Gambling
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) published a message of support for the gambling authorities from 14 EU countries that wrote to the European Commission, calling for the re-establishment of the EU’s Expert Group on Online Gambling. This initiative is part of a broader push for more regulation for Europe’s burgeoning online gambling market, which currently brings in around €100 billion per year.
The Expert Group on Gambling was disbanded back in 2018, even though the majority of participating regulatory bodies described it as a success. The group’s primary function was to serve as a channel for information sharing and discussing best regulatory practices. Without it, EGBA members say, there is no framework for regulatory cooperation for supervising the gambling market in the EU.
The letter was addressed to Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner, and reads as follows: “EGBA has previously called on the Commission to reinstate the Expert Group and believes that the challenges facing gambling regulation mean that formal and structured regulatory cooperation between EU Member States is even more important to help protect European consumers.”
The gravity of the issue becomes even more evident when you take into account that there’s no unified policy on gambling in the European Union. One of the burning problems with the current state of affairs is the considerable grey zone in which illegal gambling and money laundering can run rampant. Platforms offering gambling with PayPal, e-wallets, and cryptocurrency are particularly hard to regulate without a centralized effort.
Maarten Haijer, EGBA’s secretary-general, stated: “There is currently no EU framework for gambling regulators to even communicate, let alone to jointly tackle the big issues affecting Europe’s online gambling sector. Most of these issues are cross-border in nature and require common solutions. We, therefore, welcome the strong commitment to regulatory cooperation and call to action from the majority of Europe’s gambling regulators. The message to the European Commission is clear: both gambling regulators and the sector itself are united in support of the Expert Group and call upon the Commission to reinstate the Expert Group.”
So far, it’s largely been left to individual member states to decide on how they’ll regulate online gambling. The latest to do so was the Netherlands, whose new set of laws attempting to rein in online gambling are set to come into effect this year. Due to the international nature of online gambling, the EGBA believes one-state solutions are not enough for effective regulation and that cross-border communication on issues such as these is paramount. Whether the European Commission agrees remains to be seen.