On Tuesday, Members of the European Parliament approved a non-binding resolution calling for greater cooperation on online gambling between European Union member states. Spearheaded by German MEP Jürgen Creutzmann, the resolution is a followup to the European Commission’s March 2011 Online Gambling Green Paper. Creutzmann’s resolution, which was approved by a show of hands, asks the EC to put an end to unnecessary licensing duplication and administrative burdens and to take action against violations of EU treaties. MEPs also want the EC to study the feasibility of creating an operator blacklist and blocking financial transactions between blacklisted operators and financial institutions.
Reaction to the resolution’s passing has been mixed. The Remote Gambling Association thought it demonstrated “a marked change in approach. [The European Parliament] now wants to regulate rather than prohibit, and is pressing the Commission to act against member states which unjustifiably restrict access to their gambling markets.” Football association UEFA welcomed the resolution’s call for sports betting fraud to be declared a criminal offense across Europe.
Ashley Fox, MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, was less impressed, feeling that the resolution was largely a vote to maintain the lucrative gambling monopolies currently in place in some member states. While MEPs believe establishing common licensing standards for operators and some form of pan-European code of conduct were noble goals for the future, such cooperation wouldn’t necessarily prevent countries from enforcing their own domestic laws and regulations. Referring to online gambling as “a reality that will not stop at national boundaries,” Fox labeled the resolution “a missed opportunity … Protectionism has won over common sense.”