Online Gambling European Market Potential

The European online gambling market’s playground has changed once again over the last couple of months.   Articles 43 and 49 of the European Union Treaty are supposed to ensure a uniform online gambling market across Europe, online gambling operators have realized that this will not be reached within the near future.  Experts in the industry are of the opinion that online gambling operators are willing to settle for regulatory regimes offered by individual countries even if it affects private enterprise.  Then again, bread crumbs are better than no crumbs at all…

The unified European market announced that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled the following in three high profile cases.  In the Netherlands ECJ ruled in favor of De Lotto’s monopoly against Ladbrokes and Betfair. In Portugal ECJ ruled in favor of the state monopoly against Bwin and it also gave a similar verdict in Sweden.  The heart of the matter is that the rulings mentioned by the EU provisions are not in the interest of the public.  Therefore, if state owned monopolies are required to protect public interest then so be it.  This has become a smoke screen employed by all European nations to safeguard their own state owned monopolies and to impose a regulatory mechanism that is a far cry from being fair and competitive.

Well known gaming lawyer Quirino Mancini of SCM Partners, has indicated that all the big online gaming operators have accepted “licensing country by country”since they cannot afford to lose market share and local authorities are not allowing them to cross borders.  Strictly speaking it’s the only realistic approach they can take in these circumstances.” Tom Lippiett, associate at law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, very delicately states that the legality of the issues has been consumed by political pressure.

Chief executive of Remote Gambling Association (RGA), Clive Hawkswood, points the way forward and mentiones that the online gambling industry should first focus on the harmonization between the different regulators and then get the regulators to accord partial recognition at least to other regulators.  Malcolm Graham, chief executive of PKR said that it’s very important the industry ensures they do not replicate the large infrastructural investments in each jurisdiction but they should rather work from a single hub.

Apparently the new European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier indicated that he would champion pro harmonization moves.  A green paper on the matter is to be expected and the industry is keeping it’s fingers crossed  that it would be adopted and followed by legislation and an EU directive.



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