A new study by the European Parliament has found that deepening EU digital single market (DSM) rules to include online gambling could deliver nearly €6 billion in savings for EU consumers and businesses per year and fill existing gaps in Europe’s consumer protection framework. The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomes the findings and calls on EU policy makers to introduce a single set of rules for online gambling.
The study, presented to the Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) during its session on 2-3 September, evaluated the benefits of existing DSM measures and outlined the potential economic benefits for citizens and businesses by further deepening DSM policies.
The study found that the EU could potentially generate €5.6 billion per year in societal welfare and consumer benefits by including online gambling – a sector worth €20 billion per year – in the DSM. This would be done by addressing current gaps in consumer protection – which are a result of 28 different sets of national gambling policies which diverge significantly and create unnecessary national barriers.
In 2014, the European Commission recognised this problem and issued a non-binding Recommendation to EU Member States aimed at creating a more consistent consumer protection basis for the 12 million Europeans who regularly bet online. But a recent study found that the Recommendation has been implemented fully by only one EU Member State and EU consumers are being exposed to varying degrees of consumer protection – many of which are inadequate.
Alongside the diverging national rules for consumer protection in online gambling, national enforcement tools like geo-blockings and payment-blockings jeopardise consumer safety by pushing EU consumers towards betting websites operated outside the jurisdiction and reach of the EU. The introduction of a single set of rules applicable across all Member States would correct this, help better regulate Europe’s online gambling activities and provide higher standards of consumer protection.
The creation of a single rulebook for online gambling would also lessen significant administrative duplication for European businesses. EGBA member companies are based in the EU and offer online betting services across 19 Member States and collectively hold more than 134 online betting licenses to do so – averaging 22 licenses per company, each with their own compliance requirements.
“Introducing a single set of rules for online betting in the EU makes perfect sense – it would improve the regulation of the sector, save significant money for both consumers and companies and help better protect consumers. That is why EGBA is calling on EU policymakers to ensure that the Digital Single Market benefits the 12 million Europeans who bet online.” – Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA.