Michel Barnier, head of the European Commission (EC) said that the Commission intends to publish an action plan later this year. The plan will outline details to stop unregulated online gambling and will propose measures to clamp down on illegal online gambling websites, offshore sites based in safe havens are included as well. The Commission also intends to regulate and supervise licensed online gaming sites.
European Commission Online Gambling Policy
Barnier made it clear that non-compliant national regulatory regimes will face the full brunt of the EC. The Commission currently has 9 pending infringement procedures which must still be investigated. 12 Different Member States have filed 28 new complaints against the gambling regulation. Barnier said that the Commission will investigate pending infringements and initiate the processing of complaints against Member States whose gambling regulation violates EU policy. All the concerned Member States will be contacted by the Commission first, requesting them to rectify those policies that are in contravention with current EU law. He said, “If blatant infringements persist, I will not hesitate to propose to my colleagues that the appropriate proceedings be taken or re-launched.”
The European Parliament fully supports the EC. The EP said that the Commission must start investigating infringement proceedings that have been pending since 2008. The Commission has also been reminded by the report that it is a ‘guardian of the Treaties’. Therefore it is in the best interest of the EC to act swiftly the moment it received new complaints about violations of the freedoms stipulated in the Treaties.
Barnier also said that the regulatory framework must enable licensed online gambling operators to make their products as attractive as possible to their customers. Otherwise gamblers will wager at illegal and unregulated sites. When it comes to online gambling there must be complete harmonization across Europe since approximately 7 million Europeans gamble online. It is important to develop the proper procedures that protects citizens when they wager online.
Barnier reiterated the above when he attended a meeting in Gibraltar. This indicates that the EC is serious when it comes to pending issues that relates to online gambling. General secretary of trade association EGBA, Sigrid Ligne said that Barnier’s speech indicates that the EC means business, since 2008 many infringement proceedings have been placed on ice. The EGBA also issued the EC with a document in it it outlines what it expects from the EC.