European Lotteries urges EU to maintain state power to set video game rules | Legal compliance
The European Lotteries Association (EL) urged members of an EU committee to remove suggestions that member states cannot interfere with the freedom to provide online gambling services from the Law on EU digital services currently under review.
Although the initial 2020 version of the law does not specifically mention online gambling, a new compromise text on the bill mentions gambling in one of the recitals at the start of the text.
“Applicable national laws should be in conformity with Union law, in particular with regard to
charter and the provisions of the Treaty on the freedom of establishment and to provide services within the Union, in particular as regards online gambling and betting services ”, he declared.
This wording would suggest that EU member states cannot enact national laws that could prevent international operators based in EU states such as Malta from accepting European customers. Last month, the Netherlands announced it would crack down on all unlicensed operators accepting Dutch customers, rather than those specifically targeting the Netherlands, prompting operators such as Entain, Kindred, 888 Betsson, LeoVegas and Casumo to block customers from the Netherlands.
In Sweden, a recent report from the finance ministry recommended a similar approach, arguing that it would streamline enforcement of gambling laws.
In response to the EU’s proposal, the European Lottery Association – in a letter from Director General Arjan van ‘t Veer – urged members of the EU Competitiveness and Growth Task Force to remove any specific mention of the online game, arguing that its inclusion is “misplaced”.
While EL recognized that “in principle” certain freedoms to provide services apply to the online gambling industry, she said that European courts have “consistently recognized” that “gambling are also an activity of a special nature given the moral, religious importance
and cultural differences between EU Member States, as well as the risks they pose in terms of potential dependence and criminal use ”.
“Due to its special nature, the Court has ruled very clearly that free and undistorted competition in the gambling industry can have very damaging effects,” added van ‘t Veer.
This means, according to EL, that individual states have the right to implement their own restrictions on gambling, based on the public interest.
‘The specific reference to’ in particular with regard to online gambling and betting services; mistakenly implies that national regulations on illegal content in the gambling industry are often not in place.
compliance with EU law, ”continued van ‘t Veer. “While there certainly are restrictions on the freedom to provide online gambling services in most Member States, these national laws aim to fight crime and fraud and to protect consumers.”