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RGA welcomes Green Paper on Internet gaming

25 March 2011

(PRESS RELEASE) -- The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has given a qualified welcome to the Green Paper that was published today. The paper poses a number of questions that are designed to give all interested parties the opportunity to provide information and opinions on the issues raised by the growth of online gambling within the European Union.

The European Commission is still commenting on draft laws that are notified to it but, in effect, since work began on the Green Paper it has stopped taking action on the various infringement proceedings it had previously launched against Member States, whose laws it deemed to be in breach of EU law.

Clive Hawkswood, the RGA’s Chief Executive commented that: ‘We hope that the Green Paper, and the evidence submitted in response to it, will provide the basis for an objective assessment of the issues. The RGA is looking forward to participating in this consultation. However, this could be a lengthy process and in the meantime many Member States will be bringing forward gambling legislation at a national level. It is vitally important that the European Commission takes all reasonable steps to ensure that those new regimes are fully compliant with EU law.’

While several Member States, such as Denmark, Spain and Greece, appear to be moving towards viable licensing regimes, there are others, most notably like Belgium and Romania, that the European Commission has already expressed concerns about when their laws were notified to it.

Mr Hawkswood, commenting on the content of the Green Paper, stated that: ‘We totally agree on the need to tackle issues such as underage gambling, problem gambling, fraud and money laundering and the RGA will provide all its assistance in this respect. However, we are surprised that the Green Paper barely raises the question about Member States’ restrictions on the freedoms of the Internal Market. This lack of interest is surprising considering the number of pending infringement proceedings, the constant flow of referrals to the CJEU, the formal complaints from the industry and the Commission’s role as guardian of the Treaties.’

He also advised that: ‘The continuing denial of market access in some EU states serves to restrict competition, innovation, consumer value and choice. That in turn stifles the development of a sector where European-based companies are world leaders. We must avoid a situation whereby jurisdictions can hide behind the Green Paper process, and whatever work might flow from it, to implement regulations that quite clearly cannot be in compliance with the rules of the Internal Market.’

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