November 25, 2008

EU Member States may look to harmonise egaming regulation

EU Member States may be shifting their stance on online gaming and look to find a common approach to regulating the sector and in the process end years of deadlock when it comes to finding a harmonised EU-wide policy for the sector, according to Reuters.

A copy of the EU document obtained by the news agency stated: "While the legal frameworks differ, there are significant similarities in the member states' objectives as regards gambling and betting." European ministers will discuss the document on December 1, with some changes anticipated from states strongly opposed to any kind of opening of their gaming sector.

The issues that will be debated will include cooperation between national regulatory bodies to combat money laundering and fraud and corruption, a cap on pay-outs to players and an end to “double-taxation by taxing gaming where it takes place”.

France, currently holding the EU presidency, said there were “already grounds for seeking a common approach” back in July and French budget minister Eric Woerth recently said “Europe” may have to look at finding a regulatory solution for allowing the industry to work across borders and countries.

Others in the online gaming industry have interpreted this as a delaying tactic by the French, who are due to submit their draft regulation for the controlled opening of their online betting sector next month. But Sigrid LignĂ©, secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association, told Reuters: “In the end it's going to be back to the Commission to decide if it can take any further steps or if there is any need to do something new or different in the issue."

A dozen EU states are said to be supportive of the common approach to regulating in Europe although Britain and Malta were critical, Reuters said.

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