“Current EU consumer protection standards are inadequate”

The EGBA association says that working towards a safer, cross-border digital gambling environment would benefit people in the EU.

Belgium.- The European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) is once again urging more policies to benefit online gamblers. The association says that rules must intersect to safeguard the rights of consumers and promote the interests of online businesses.

EGBA argued that ensuring the EU single market embraces the digital reality and is less impeded by national barriers is a major challenge, but one that EU policymakers must grapple with to prevent Europe’s economy being left behind by global digital transformation.

However, while much progress has already been made in terms of the EU digital market works, it is essential to make sure that the rules intersect to protect consumers and promote online businesses’ interests.

“Today the online economy goes far beyond music streaming, or buying a book online, and includes almost anything you could imagine — including placing a bet on the outcome of your favourite football team’s next match. EU regulation needs to keep up,” said EGBA.

EGBA named five reasons why regulation needs to improve

The association said that online gambling is more popular and inherently cross-border. “The challenge in today’s borderless, digital world is to ensure that these citizens only use gambling websites licensed in the EU and are fully protected by European consumer protection rules when they play online,” says EGBA.

It also says that there is a patchwork of national rules and no single market. “[There are] 28 different sets of national rules working in isolation to each other – leading to policy fragmentation and divergence. In an era when Europeans can easily access websites operated from anywhere in the world, policy inconsistencies can lead to its citizens being exposed to different rules or websites that don’t protect their rights or interests.”

Current EU consumer protection standards are inadequate and diverge significantly. That’s what EGBA claims as a problem, saying that only one EU country has fully implemented the safeguards, and that big gaps exist in how gamblers are protected across Europe, which is solely dependent on where they live. “To ensure a safer online gambling environment across EU countries the incoming Commission should start by enforcing its existing consumer protection proposals.”

According to EGBA, there is no formal framework for regulatory cooperation between EU countries. “There is now no formal framework for regulators to even communicate, let alone to jointly tackle the big issues affecting the sector,  which are cross-border and require common solutions. In the absence of policy consistency, more cooperation between regulatory authorities is a vital necessity to encourage exchanges of best practice and better alignment of national policies. The incoming Commission should reinstate regulatory cooperation between national gambling regulators to ensure better policy consistency.”

EU rules are not being enforced in the sector: “National authorities know they don’t need to worry about whether their policies comply with EU law and consumers and business are being treated differently than in other EU countries. The application of EU law should not be optional. Any serious legal complaint should get a fair consideration, irrespective of the sector it pertains to.”

“We need one set of rules providing better regulation of Europe’s online gambling activities, better-protected citizens and clear rules for gambling companies to comply with. That’s why EGBA EU policymakers to work together in this new EU term to establish a better standard of protection for all Europe’s online citizens and single-market policies fit for the digital age.”

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