The Regulatory Landscape for Online Gaming in Europe 2016

Online gaming regulation in Europe is moving ever closer to a more perfect union. Despite the online gamingBritish referendum for Brexit on the table, with the backing of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, regulators are working more closely together than in previous years.

Informally, regulators had been cooperating long before online gaming existed, as far back as 1989.

The Gaming Regulators European Forum (GREF) has annual meeting, subcommittees and working groups already focusing on everything from technical issues to responsible gambling and addiction.

Complexities Involved With Integration

Whilst this has long-since worked on one level, formalising arrangements have often proved more complex. Some countries are still fairly new to online gaming regulation.

Whereas others consider the legislation an extension of casino and other land-based gambling laws. Rules governing the industry in each state are connected to negative social impacts, such as addiction, money laundering, data sharing, and enforcing consumer protections.

Although the EU does have a growing body of laws in common, these national differences do still influence how regulations are applied cross borders. Law enforcement also has to be taken into consideration, since most crimes would still be handled on a national level.

At present, according to a 2014 EU study, there is still no common definition for “online gambling services” or “remote gambling services”, which further complicates integration.

Enacting formal cooperation

Despite these difficulties, some progress has been made, since the Commission called for formal cooperation in 2012.

In December 2015, an agreement was signed between the gambling regulatory authorities of EEA Member States to work more closely together. Notably, this is “the first of its kind in the world.” The EU is ahead of the US when it comes to online gaming regulations.

The agreement covers the following areas:

  • The organisation of gambling, such as tender procedures, verification of information provided by other authorities, exchange of technical expertise.
  • The supervision of compliance with national laws, including the protection of consumers, prevention of money laundering and fraud, and betting related to match-fixing.
  • Practical cooperation to assist the authorities in their day-to-day supervisory function.
  • Sharing of best practices.

National regulators, such as the UK’s Gambling Commission are taking a proactive stance when it comes to enacting stricter guidelines. CEO Sarah Harrison, speaking at the ICE Totally Gaming conference in London, said that operators need to improve marketing, advertising, and terms and conditions.

With new US operators about to enter the market and more regulation on the horizon, now is the time for the industry to adopt mature practices, ensuring customers are afforded more transparent protections. The regulatory landscape is at a tipping point, with operators that fail to adopt a proactive stance today likely to pay for it tomorrow.

Secure Trading work with a number of online gaming companies and take a keen interest in the growth of this sector and regulatory issues.