EU Commission recommends measures for online gambling
The European Commission has taken on a Recommendation about online gambling. It is part of an action plan from 2012 which aims at preventing consumers from bad consequences like addiction or financial losses.
As online gambling gets more and more important for the European economy, the EU decided to address this topic two years ago and developed the above mentioned action plan as a consequence. The Commission stated that the wide variety of national regulations by the Member States can’t solve or prevent the problems fully. As it is so easy for consumers to change from national gambling websites to foreign ones, europeanwide standards would be much more feasible.
Youth protection and addiction prevention
The measures should effectively stem problems associated with online gambling. There is a big variety of such problems. First of all, many of the websites lack information which would be very important for consumers like regulations of youth protection, cost implications and warnings about possible health or financial risks because of addictive or excessive gambling.
The Commission aims at a better education of consumers on these dangers. Especially the protection of minors should be improved by standardized regulations within the EU like definite age limits. Another focus is the prevention of gambling addiction. There are various measures the Commission recommends. One example would be an obligatory registration of every person who wants to create a gambling account on a website. Due to this registration, the consumer as well as the provider would have the possibility to monitor the gambling habits.
Details of the Recommendation
In a press release of the Commission, the following points of the Recommendation are listed:
- Basic information requirements for gambling websites, in particular to ensure that consumers are provided with sufficient information to understand the risks related to gambling. Commercial communication (advertising and sponsorship) should be carried out in a responsible way.
- Member States should ensure that minors are not able to gamble online, and that rules are in place to minimise their contact with gambling, including through advertising or promotion of gambling services whether broadcast or displayed.
- There should be a registration process to open a player account so that consumers have to provide details of age and identity for verification by the operators. This should also enable operators to keep track of player behaviour and raise the alarm if necessary.
- Ongoing support should be available to players to prevent gambling-related problems, by equipping them with tools to keep gambling under control: possibilities to set spending limits during the registration process, to get information alerts about winnings and losses whilst playing, and to take time out from gambling.
- Players should have access to helplines they can call for assistance about their gambling behaviour, and they should be able to easily exclude themselves from gambling websites.
- Advertising and sponsorship of online gambling services should be more socially responsible and transparent. For example, it should not make unfounded statements about chances of winning, exert pressure to gamble, or suggest that gambling resolves social, professional, personal or financial problems.
- Member States should ensure that training is provided to employees of online gambling operators interacting with players to ensure they understand problem gambling issues and are able to liaise with the players appropriately.
(Learn more here: Press release of the European Commission)
As it is a Recommendation – and not a more binding Regulation – the EU Member States have some scope left for implementing the measures. The deadline for this are 18 months after publication, while the Commission will then evaluate the taken steps within 30 months after publication of the Recommendation.