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EU discusses responsible gaming issues
On Thursday, the online gambling industry came together at the European Parliament to celebrate Responsible Gaming Day.
The Responsible Gaming Day was set up to bring together some of the most prominent figures in the field of gaming and betting. This includes EU and national policy makers, academia, players' associations and senior representatives from private and state-owned gaming companies.
The European online gambling industry has been getting a lot of attention both from politicians and the media as the industry gains in popularity and countries try to figure out how to deal with the industry.
Concerns raised about online poker, casinos and sports betting include the security of payments, the fairness of games, the protection of vulnerable players such as minors, and the responsibility of the industry to protect consumers.
Responsible Gaming Day was created to address these issues before the EU at the European Parliament and bring together all parties involved to discuss best practices and knowledge in the field of responsible gaming.
One of the key focuses of the day was the protection of minors. During the discussions Andrew Poole, GamCare managing director, said, "There needs to be shared responsibility to minimize underage gaming. Consistent regulation across jurisdictions and proper education are key in achieving an effective industry-wide response to underage gaming."
A PartyGaming representative expressed a similar view, adding that the online gambling industry needs to be able to work with governments to achieve this.
"We want governments to help us help consumers," said Leon Thomas, PartyGaming head of regulatory compliance.
Along with protecting minors, the group talked about protecting problem gamblers as well. Academics attending the event specialize in gaming and betting behavior research and stressed the need to use scientific research rather than conjecture when talking about online problem gambling.
With online gambling, it is much easier to conduct accurate studies of problem gambling.
"The advantage of online gambling is that you can track data in real time rather than relying on self reports, which may lack reliability," said Richard LaBrie, Ed. D Harvard Medical School.
Christofer Fjellner, Sweden Member of the European Parliament, said the key for the industry to enter into national markets is consumer protection.
He added that using consumer protection "as an argument to protect monopolies is simply letting consumers down."
To achieve greater consumer protection without endangering the free flow of services set up by the EU, various arms of the industries and the government must come together.
"No matter how much we do, no matter how many rules we put into place, and no matter how good we are - no solution will be optimal if it is not inclusive and based on the full cooperation and commitment of all stakeholders," said Norbert Teufelberger, European Gaming and Betting Association chairman.