Demise Of EU Expert Group Decried
Source: Gambling Compliance
A member of European Parliament (MEP) has promised to inquire into the fate of the European Union’s Expert Group on Gambling Services after former regulators complained about its demise.
Francesco Rodano, the former head of Italy’s gambling regulator, grumbled about the recent expiration of the expert group, a cross-border organisation at which EU regulators from countries including Malta, the Netherlands and Italy met to discuss common issues.
“We learned a lot, we learned from each other, and now it’s killed,” said Rodano, currently a Playtech executive.
In response, Romanian MEP Cristian-Silviu Busoi has promised to lodge a written question before the European Parliament asking about why the group was disbanded.
Busoi organised a meeting last week in Brussels on Regulatory Frameworks of Gambling in the Eastern EU, featuring speakers from Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic.
The expert group of national gambling regulators had made little progress on a goal of cross-border harmonisation of gambling rules, but the group was nonetheless popular with many regulators as a mechanism for fostering cooperation.
It met for the last time in December. The prospects for its ressurection depend largely on the view of the next European Commission.
The five-year premiership of Jean Claude Junker, who’s commission has publicly disavowed an interest in gambling issues, will come to an end following upcoming European Elections in May.
Politicians are sometimes afraid to address gambling issues because they are too controversial, so a non-partisan group of regulators talking can be helpful, Rodano said.
That assessment was tacitly confirmed by a Polish official, who said there was not much political will to address problems with channelisation of Polish players to legalised sites.
“You need a politician to take up the issues,” said Andrzej Sadowski, a member of the National Board for Development of the Polish President.
Polish betting tax is 12 percent of turnover, a rate that squeezes operators looking to offer odds to compete with unlicensed websites.
The EU expert group was sometimes controversial, as the Belgian government had previously sued over recommendations on practical guidelines on minimum standards of consumer protection in online gambling touted by the group.
A court eventually rejected Belgium’s claims of a “hidden directive”.
Ekaterina Hartmann of the European Gaming and Betting Association said she wished the EU could promote some very basic player protections for its members, such as requirements that minimum gambling age be displayed in all advertisements and marketing.