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European Parliament approves online gambling resolution, unicorn refuge

TAGs: clive hawkswood, European Commission, European Parliament, remote gambling association

european-union-unicornThe European Parliament has voted to adopt its latest online gambling resolution suggesting some kind of action should be taken at some point in the future to do, er, something about European Union member states’ different approaches to online gambling regulation. The resolution, which was passed on Tuesday by a vote of 572 to 79 (with 61 abstentions), called on the European Commission to pursue enforcement action against member states whose online gambling regimes fall afoul of Internal Market rules, while simultaneously upholding the right of member states to impose whatever barriers to market entry they deem fit in order to protect state monopolies and/or consumers.

The Online Gambling in the Internal Market resolution had its roots in a report by Gibraltar MEP Ashley Fox as a response to the European Commission’s October 2012 Action Plan on online gambling. But the EU’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) committee amended Fox’s report to give member states more sway in deciding whom they allow into their online gambling marketplaces.

The resolution calls for member states to share more info toward the eventual establishment of universal white- and blacklists of operators, advertising codes, tax rates, player identification and self-exclusion lists, and the understanding that so long as a licensed gambling firm is operating within the law in one member state, there should be no reason to prevent said operator from operating in other member states. Oh, and if there’s time, the EU intends to establish a unicorn sanctuary on a farm just outside Brussels.

On the negative side, the resolution calls for a ban on all forms of in-play wagering on the grounds that live wagering has “proved to be very vulnerable to match fixing” and therefore threatens the sanctity of sport that steroids and cocaine have yet to tarnish. Also on the resolution’s naughty list are prop wagers such as the awarding of corner kicks, throw-ins and yellow cards. The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) trade group has slammed this “unjustified call for restrictions” given that there is “no evidence” to suggest different types of wagering present more or less fixing risks.

The RGA also took issue with the resolution’s support for “a sports betting right” that would allow sports leagues and racing bodies to charge betting companies a fee for wagering on the outcomes of their product. The RGA found it curious that a document about online gambling regulation would include support for an “unwarranted and legally dubious” commercial issue on behalf of a stakeholder. RGA CEO Clive Hawkswood urged the EC to focus on more germane issues, such as the fact that many of the complaints its members have brought against member states have been on the docket “for five years already” with no end in sight. Hey, unicorn sanctuaries don’t organize themselves, you know…

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