On Tuesday September 10 in Strasbourg, the European Parliament adopted with an overwhelming majority the online gambling report prepared by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee.
While the report does not call for harmonization of the online gambling sector at EU level, it highlights the need for co-operation amongst member states and urges a high level of protection for consumers.
European Lotteries, the umbrella organization of national lottery operators, welcomed the European Parliament resolution that confirms the European Commission’s approach to not propose a sectoral harmonization directive for online gambling.
Friedrich Stickler, President of European Lotteries, commented: "The European Parliament has spoken out very clearly that a sectoral online gambling Directive is not desirable: gambling is not an ordinary economic activity. We are pleased that the threat for consumers from illegal gambling offerings is taken seriously. This Resolution takes a clear stance on the need for law enforcement at the national level and cooperation between the Member States: we welcome in particular the adoption of the ‘unfair operator principle’: online gambling companies that violate the laws of one Member State should lose their license in other Member States."
The texts adopted by the the European Parliament elaborated on 5 different topics: specific nature of the online gambling sector and consumer protection, compliance with EU law, administrative cooperation, money laundering and integrity of sports, but Bookmakers Review could not find any specific mention of the adoption of the so-called ‘unfair operator principle’.
If anything the European Parliament noted the need for more coherent EU policies in order to address the cross-border nature of online gambling.
European Lotteries also welcomed the European Parliament strong stance on the need for a broad set of measures to fight illegal operators, although we hope and believe MEPs do not consider illegal bookmakers licensed in the Isle of Man, a British Crown Dependency.
Earlier this year, while speaking during the CEO panel at the World Gaming Executive Summit, the President of European Lotteries labeled as 'illegal operator' SBOBET, an online bookmaker present in Asia and Europe with licenses in First Cagayan (Philippines) and the Isle of Man.
The sensation that day of July was that Mr Stickler considers illegal all online bookmakers based in offshore jurisdictions and that he would have probably bashed Gibraltar-licensed BWIN had the company's Co-CEO not been present in the same panel.