The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has called for the competent European Union authorities to adopt a specific consumer rights set for the online gambling industry.
The Brussels-based trade body, which represents the leading online gambling and betting companies that are established, licensed and regulated within the European Union, insists that despite the cross-border nature of gambling, individuals who play online are not subject to equal protection of their rights throughout the EU. The differences originate from the fact that each of the EU member states is given the right to create and implement its own gambling regulations, so gambling laws and rules vary, and so does consumer protection.
Now, the EGBA claims that such lack of regulatory consistency puts the safety of online gamblers on stake, as they could feel encouraged to turn to gambling providers that operate on the black market. Apart from that, the Association has explained that the level of protection for European players depends very much on their country of residence.
The Association referred to a 2018 study published by the City University London, which showed that European players are subject to unequal and sometimes inadequate consumer protection rules across the member states of the EU. Under the study, the implementation of the 2014 Recommendation of the European Commission regarding principles for consumer protection against possible gambling-related harm and the prevention of underage individuals from gambling online.
The abovementioned Recommendation includes safeguards for player identification, social responsibilities and protection of underage gamblers. However, only one EU member state has implemented it so far.
Implementation of Standardised Online Gambling Regulation Would Better Protect EU Gamblers
The EGBA also cited another study, which was focused on examining the regulatory framework for gambling advertising in 15 countries. The study found that only six countries have unveiled specific rules aimed at protecting underage individuals from viewing gambling advertisements.
According to the Association, the lack of consistent online gambling regulation puts online gamblers’ safety at risk, as individuals are exposed to unregulated online gambling sites operating on the black market. That is why the EGBA has suggested the implementation of standardised rules and regulations that would fill the gap stemming from inconsistent customer protection rules and make sure that all online players are equally protected.
The European online gambling market is currently the biggest online gambling market on a global scale. According to reports, the overall Gross Gaming Revenue generated by the EU online gambling sector amounted to €22.2 billion, which represented 49.2% of the global online sector.
As mentioned above, the EGBA claims that the establishment of a new standardised consumer agenda for gambling in the EU could guarantee better customer protection. In addition, such a step would boost transparency and legal certainty in the sector, and would improve the overall security for online gamblers by creating fair and balanced contract terms. This has been exactly why the trade body called for EU regulations that are specific for the sector and guarantee online gambling consumers would be well-protected. The EGBA further claims that the EU authorities could implement simple rules that would make sure that all players are protected on equal terms.
According to the Association, the implementation of the proposed set of consumer rights for the online gambling market is not impossible and it gave the example of a European self-exclusion register that would suspend customers’ access to all regulated gambling operations within the EU.