The EL is pushing for changes to the proposed text of the EU Digital Services Act to uphold states’ right to regulate their national gaming markets.
Belgium.- European Lotteries (EL), the umbrella organisation of national lotteries, has called for the EU’s Working Party on Competitiveness and Growth to remove wording from the EU Digital Services Act that suggests that individual member states must not prevent European-licensed operators from offering gambling services in their territory.
A proposed new version of the act includes the wording: “The applicable national laws should be in compliance with Union law, in particular including the charter and the treaty provisions on the freedom of establishment and to provide services within the Union in particular with regard to online gambling and betting services.”
This would appear to suggest that individual member states cannot issue their own laws that would prevent international operators based in other EU states – Malta for example – from accepting customers in their territory.
In the Netherlands, several major operators have begun blocking Dutch players as a result while they prepare licence applications to enter the newly regulated market.
“Gambling is an activity of a peculiar nature.”Arjan van ’t Veer, secretary general of The European Lotteries.
EL secretary general Arjan van ’t Veer has sent a letter to the EU’s Working Party on Competitiveness and Growth asking for the specific mention of online gambling to be removed from the wording in the legislation. He argued that the proposed wording wrongly suggests that many national regulations breached EU law.
He said that European courts had “consistently recognised” that “gambling is an activity of a peculiar nature given the considerable moral, religious and cultural differences across the EU Member States, as well as the risks they entail in terms of potential addiction and criminal use”.
He said: “Due to its peculiar nature, the Court has ruled very clearly that free, undistorted competition in the gambling sector can have severely detrimental effects.”
He added: “While there are definitely restrictions on the freedom to provide online gambling services in most Member States, these national laws aim to combat crime and fraud and to protect consumers.”