A European Union action plan on online gambling is vowing to further strengthen protection of gamblers and launch faster probes into state restrictions on online gambling firms. Bloomberg is quoting an anonymous source as stating the action plan, which is due out later today, will focus on safeguarding the EU against money laundering in online gambling and “promote hotlines against match fixing”. The European Commission will also speed up the process of investigating countries that place restrictions on online gambling firms.
Concerning the latter point, the EU has investigated complaints brought by a number of firms against some of the EU’s biggest nations. Betfair is one of those to have railed against state monopolies such as Cyprus and the Netherlands due to the fact many offer services to customers via this menthod whilst at the same time banning firms. We contacted both Betfair and Ladbrokes to see what their opinion was on the rumors of what will be included in the online gambling plan and neither had got back to us before this article was published.
Fighting money laundering is something always cited by studies into the online gambling industry, even though the controls are strong already and it’s not thought to be widespread. A CalvinAyre.com ‘Ask Calvin’ segment that went out back in July 2010 saw a viewer question asking if Ayre’s Bodog.com had ever experienced problems with money laundering. The answer…a resounding no. In his view the only way that laundering could happen is the owner of the business carrying it out and not the players themselves.
Fixing is another pet hate of the EU, as well as major sporting bodies, meaning it likely has a prominent place in this new online gambling plan. Many gambling companies already have their own systems to detect suspicious betting patterns and on that side of things it’s unlikely the EU needs to do much work. Where they could help is to team up with FIFA and national associations in order to weed out the causes of fixing on the ground.
When the plan is officially released later, we’re likely to find out the full implications of what the EU has planned for the online gambling industry. Given what Bloomberg is reporting it doesn’t seem like the most drastic of solutions to potential harmonization and not a lot is likely to change.