EU study looks at gambling market

Gambling accounts for 3% of the European Union's total GDP, with betting services alone raking in nearly $8.7 billion in 2003, according to an Oct. 12 report into gaming services in member states.

The study - undertaken by the Swiss institute of comparative law at the request of the European Commission in 2004 - examines the legal and economic facets of gambling and games of chance in the European Union. The report also looks at regulations and future development of the industry.

Online gambling in particular, the study says, will continue to evolve as offshore gambling is booming.

When examining gambling restrictions in EU member states, the report found that monopoly restrictions go against the Treaty of the European Union and may be focused on financial gains for public revenue at the expense of the consumer. The study also suggests that there are inconsistencies in gambling taxation in member states that distort the market.

Commenting on the report, the European Betting Association (EBA) and the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) said the study shed significant light on the European gambling market and its potential, but also reveals a fragmented industry with inconsistent regulations.

"Although the findings of this Study which confirm what we have witnessed and suffered in our daily business for years by these restrictions, the European Commission has yet to announce any next steps based on this study," the organizations said in a statement.

The RGA and the EBA are calling on the EU to ensure there is an even playing field for its private operators to compete with state-owned or sponsored organizations and for consumer protection to minimize any negative effects of gambling.

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