It is perhaps well overdue, but this month has seen the EU’s gaming regulation bodies take bold steps towards harmonising their approaches to gambling for the continent, promising to save time and money across the board.
The pan-European approach to gaming regulation has been uncharacteristically fragmented over the past years, but the last month has seen the EU take two big steps in moving towards harmonisation.
The effects of a cooperation agreement and separately of a pilot scheme for streamlining testing standards should go along way to saving substantial time and costs for both regulators and operators in the continent.
On 27 November a majority of regulators in the European Economic Area met in Brussels to sign a cooperation agreement for online gambling, while the remaining members, excluding Iceland, are expected to sign in the coming weeks. The agreement will see greater cooperation of the organisation of gambling, and its supervision, enforcement and compliance, including the protection of consumers and players, the prevention of money laundering and fraud, and the integrity of bets. Also agreed were provisions to share data on mutual interests such as market data the results of studies and surveys, new products and international issues.
Although the agreement is voluntary and therefore non-binding, EU regulators have promised to move towards “open and constructive cooperation in the field of online gambling”.
Separately the Association of Gaming Regulators announced the pilot scheme named the Multi-jurisdictional Testing Framework to streamline gambling product testing processes. This should enable new products to got to market quicker, saving money along the way. Currently, the membership only comprises the UK Gambling Commission and the gambling regulators in Alderney, the Isle of Man and Denmark.
The long term aim of the project is to create a common market of testing standards, as is the case for many industries operating across EU borders, resulting in one testing framework to satisfy the requirements of all members. In time it aims to encompass more jurisdictions, leading to more savings for operators.
Europe’s leading online gambling association, European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), welcomed the signing of administrative cooperation agreement between the EU’s national gambling authorities, stating that the cross border cooperation will allow for the structural exchange of information and best practices, and reduce unnecessary administrative burden.
An EGBA statement said: “The agreement is part of the ongoing implementation of the Commission action plan ‘Towards a comprehensive European framework for online gambling’ of 2012, which inter alia aims to create structural cooperation between national gambling authorities to improve the protection of consumers, minors and ensure the integrity of games.”
Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA, stated: “The signing of the cooperation agreements between the EU’s Gambling Authorities is a crucial step in building trust and confidence in this inherently cross border sector. We encourage the Authorities to address with priority unnecessary administrative costs that make the regulated offer less competitive than the unregulated offer. We would like to congratulate Commissioner Bienkowska and her team with today’s success and encourage the Commissioner to continue the implementation of the Commission Action Plan.”