Over 20% of gambling in the UK is now facilitated online, but regulations aren’t doing enough to create a safe space for the users. Most Europeans like to gamble for fun and do so responsibly. However, at least 1% of the gamblers are gambling too much or too often, which makes it important for the lawmakers to create more stringent regulations to protect players.
The increased popularity of sports makes it even greater responsibility for the lawmakers. Marten Haijer, the secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), said that the association called for more regulations at the recent Responsible Gaming Day in the European Parliament. The current regulation is limited to the national level, and the EGBA thinks that more should be done to handle the challenges of cross-border activity.
The problem with national regulations is that they are not consistent and Europeans can still play with a website based in another country, without a proper framework to regulate their activities. Consequently, playing online leaves the Europeans with various sets of consumer protection standards, which may not be adequate for all. The EGBA seeks more common rules across the EU to regulate the gambling industry so that consumers can get an equal and high level of protection, regardless of where they live in Europe.
In 2014, the European Commission tried to handle the issue by issuing guidelines to help member states build stronger consumer protection laws for the online gambling industry. By far, only Denmark has fully implemented the Commission’s guidelines on gambling. Other member states are still lagging behind. The Commission was expected to review the implementation of these guidelines by 2017 but has failed to do so.
The EGBA asked the University of London to inquire about the online gambling safeguards in the member states. Their study found that only 14 member countries have a self-exclusion register so far. None of these registers are interoperable, which means that self-excluded members in one member state can easily play on websites based in another state. Only 13 member states currently require a “no underage gambling” sign on gambling ads.
Existing gambling regulations have also not been adapted to the digital age so far. Only about half of the member countries allow the use of public databases or electronic identification for players. This can increase the risk of gambling in minors as well as gambling fraud substantially. The EGBA suggests that creating a unified set of rules for all states will help protect European gamblers and also benefit gambling companies who have to bear the cost and challenges of meeting 28 different sets of rules in these states.