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Belgium – EGBA calls for unified online protection for players in the EU

By - 11 August 2020

Ahead of the publication of European Commission’s consumer strategy later this year, the Commission is consulting stakeholders on a roadmap to support the development of the strategy. In its submission to the roadmap, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), whose member companies have 16.5m online customers in Europe, outlines why the introduction of a specific single set of consumer rights for the online gambling sector would guarantee a high level of protection for consumers, increase transparency and legal certainty and lead to balanced and fair contract terms and an overall increased security for Europe’s online betting consumers.

The European online gambling market is the largest market for online gambling worldwide. In 2018 total EU online gambling market generated €22.2bn in Gross Gaming Revenue, accounting for 49.2 per cent of the global online market.

EGBA stated: “Despite the cross-border nature of online gambling, online players are not equally protected throughout the EU, as each Member State is responsible for developing its own rules. The level of protection for European players depends solely on where they live. A 2018 study published by the City University London showed that European players are being exposed to unequal and inadequate consumer safeguards across EU member states. The study reviewed the implementation of the European Commission’s 2014 Recommendation on principles for the protection of consumers and players of online gambling services and for the prevention of minors from gambling online, by all Member States. The Recommendation includes safeguards for player identification, minor protection and social responsibilities, only one Member- State however, has implemented it. Another study commissioned by EGBA, which examined the regulatory framework for gambling advertising in 15 countries, found that only 6 countries have specific legislative rules for protecting minors from viewing gambling advertisements.”

“The lack of regulatory consistency jeopardises online players’ safety, as it exposes them to the unregulated and unsafe websites of the black market, which profits to the detriment of the European economy. EGBA advocates sector-specific EU regulation for consumer and minor protection. There are simple rules that can be proposed, to ensure that online players, minors and players who are at risk are equally protected. For example, self-excluded players could benefit from a European self-exclusion register, that would prohibit access to any regulated website of the EU. To bridge the gap stemming from inconsistent rules on protecting minors from gambling marketing, EGBA has recently published a European code of conduct to establish minimum requirements on responsible advertising. Greater regulatory cooperation between Member States can also facilitate the dialogue to achieve harmonisation. To this end EGBA regrets the dissolvement of the European expert group for online gambling, as national gambling regulators are deprived from the opportunity to meet and exchange in the framework of a common platform,” it added.

“In light of a new European Consumer Agenda, we believe that introducing a specific single set of consumer rights that apply to the online gambling sector will guarantee a high level of protection for consumers, increase transparency and legal certainty and lead to balanced and fair contract terms and an overall increased security for the player.”

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