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RGA urges authorities to address unfair restrictions

December 17, 2008 2008

The Remote Gambling Association has welcomed the French Council Presidency initiative to review gambling laws and calls on the European Commission to continue infringement proceedings against Member States.

According to the RGA, these efforts should not, however, slow down infringement proceedings against Member States that are failing to apply EC Treaty rules in this area.

Referring to issues such as crime prevention, consumer protection and the maintenance of public and social order mentioned in the Presidency report , the RGA said it agrees that these are all worthwhile objectives, but believes it is important to remember that the online gambling industry already addresses these issues through codes of practice established by the industry itself and through compulsory licence conditions in the European jurisdictions where they are based and regulated.

Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of RGA, said: “All RGA members already operate to our own code of practice on social responsibility. Codes such as these, combined with existing regulations in EEA jurisdictions that issue online gambling licences already set high standards for consumer protection.”

Going forward, the RGA called on the Council to give greater attention to another issue addressed in the Presidency report: the rulings by the European Court of Justice on the opening of national markets to competition from operators who are licenced in other EU jurisdictions.

“The freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide gambling services across internal EU borders are set down in the EC Treaty. Several Member States, however, have yet to amend their gambling laws to take account of this and Commission infringement proceedings against those States are still outstanding. The RGA urges the Council and the Commission to address these unfair restrictions as a matter of priority because not only do they constitute a clear breach of EC law, but they are also unfairly restricting the growth of many well established and responsible online European companies and reducing consumer choice,” stated the RGA.

“You cannot address standards and Member State involvement without mentioning the basic principles of access to markets for online gambling operators licensed in Europe. We hope that any future iteration of this report will make this abundantly clear and serve as a starting point for further consideration of these issues,” said Hawkswood.

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