The European Commission (EC) has rejected widespread calls in Europe’s international iGaming community to re-establish its Expert Group on Online Gambling.
Regulators and iGaming companies, including the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) and Malta iGaming European Network (iGEN) had advocated for the group, which would foster “much-needed” regulatory cooperation between Europe’s gambling authorities.
However, according to a response sent to Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), responding to chairman Rener Jansen’s calls on behalf of regulators, the expert group remains unviable.
The EC points to its decision to decommission the group, taken in December 2017, made after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) found that national regulations superseded EU rules and that as such gambling laws and standards should remain the competence of individual member states.
Following this ruling, the commission said it may only intercede on member states’ gambling laws if they appear to have breached EU wide laws on fair business practices, market competition, and state aid rules.
Responding to Mr Jansen’s call, the EC said: “At this stage, our directorate general does not intend to reverse this decision and to reinstate the expert group on gambling services under its responsibility”.
Addressing some of his specific concerns, the letter, penned by Thierry Breton, European Commissioner of the internal market added: “However, the letter you sent us addresses many different policy issues which are related to gambling but fall under the responsibility of other Commission services, such as in the areas of anti-money laundering, consumer and youth protection, the prevention of addiction or issues of taxation.
“I therefore encourage you to get in touch with these DGs for those matters that fall under their competency. Thank you very much for understanding”.
The expert group, disbanded in 2018, after five years in existence, was a cross-border organisation tasked with establishing cooperation between Member States’ authorities and the EU Commission on matters relating to gambling services.
It was also tasked with advising and assisting the EU Commission in preparing and implementing gambling policy initiatives, monitoring the development of policies and emerging issues in the industry, and bringing out the exchange of experience and good practice.
The demise of the expert group was decried by iGaming stakeholders including the EGBA at the time, which acknowledged that it made “little progress” towards its goal of cross-border harmonisation of gambling rules, but insisted that it was a popular mechanism amongst regulators for fostering cooperation.
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