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The Scenario Of Online Gaming In Europe

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It is a policy of the European Union to establish free trade of goods and services between its member nations. The idea is that no country should discriminate against producers in other countries. This would create a unified market within the European Union. Online gambling products and services are in the limelight. The European Commission is trying to create a level playing field in the online gaming industry. However it is meeting stiff resistance from many member nations who are putting their national interests ahead of the common goal.

Not all countries of the European Union are behaving in a partisan manner. The United Kingdom has a well regulated online gambling regime under the UK Gambling Act 2005. The United Kingdom has a White List, which lists approved online gambling jurisdictions. The gambling jurisdictions are from the United Kingdom, Europe and even from outside areas. Online gambling operators from these approved jurisdictions can access online players from the United Kingdom and even advertise in the British media. However the gambling operators are required to strictly adhere to the rules and regulations laid out in the Gambling Act.

The problem is with countries that have strong government owned gambling monopolies. These countries presently prohibit private online gambling companies from operating. They are going all out to protect these monopolies from external and even internal competition despite threats of legal action against them by the European Commission. Some countries like France are giving lip service to the European Commission’s directives. They have framed draft legislation for legalization and regulation of online gambling. However, these drafts are so flawed that they are opposed by online gambling operators, associations like the European Gambling and Betting Association and by the European Commission itself. It is evident that these countries are trying to defer any legal action against them by presenting draft laws that have no chance of being accepted by the European Community.

Then there are countries like Norway and the Netherlands that are trying to clamp down on private online gambling with laws similar to the draconian UIGEA of the United States. Some online gambling operators have challenged the laws in the courts of Norway and the battle is taking place there. The Netherlands is pressuring the financial institutions operating there from transferring funds to online gambling operators. Some financial institutions have succumbed to the pressure, whereas others are holding out. There are some countries like Italy that have adopted a middle path. They have legalized and regulated online gambling so that private Italian companies can participate but are not allowing operators from other countries to do so.

The latest development in online gambling has taken place in the United Kingdom. The British online gambling operators have complained that they are being discriminated against in other countries, whereas United Kingdom has allowed outside gambling operators to access the British market. The British online gambling operators have also complained of higher levels of taxation in the United Kingdom. This has compelled the United Kingdom to take a review of its online gambling laws.

In the midst of all the pressures within Europe, the European Commission has taken on the United States. With the enactment of the UIGEA the American online gambling market was shut to European operators and those from other parts of the world. This caused tremendous loss to these operators. Now the European Commission seeks to find a negotiated settlement with the United States, but no solution is in sight.   

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