RGA supports EC online gambling action

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The Remote Gambling Association has joined the European Gaming and Betting Association in applauding the European Commission's decision to pursue action against Greece and the Netherlands' online gambling laws.

Last week the European Commission announced it has formally requested that Greece and the Netherlands amend their online gambling laws to follow European Union laws.

This follows the EC's consideration of replies from both nations to its request for information about their online gambling policies. The EC was seeking to verify whether the restriction in question complied with the EU Treaty, which guarantees the free movement of services.

The EC determined that the online gambling restrictions didn't comply with EU laws, saying that the restrictions "have not been shown to be necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory."

The decision comes in part because both nations have recently introduced new addictive games and intensive advertising, and neither has implemented concrete measures against gambling addiction. That's clear evidence that neither country is promoting a consistent and systematic policy aimed at genuinely reducing gambling opportunities.

"In the face of sometimes very strong opposition, it does the Commission great credit that it continues to fulfill its role as guardian of the Treaty in such a robust and objective way," said Clive Hawkswood, RGA chief executive.

"Coming on the heels of its decision in January to take similar action against Germany and Sweden, this should send a strong signal across Europe that protectionism in the gambling sector will not be tolerated."

Greece and the Netherlands now have two months to respond to the EC's request by amending their online gambling policies or providing more evidence that their laws fall within the European Treaty guidelines.

If the EC doesn't receive a satisfactory reply within that time frame, it may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice. The Court of Justice has previously ruled that restrictions which seek to protect general interest objectives, such as the protection of consumers, must be "consistent and systematic" in how they seek to limit gambling activities.

A member state can't invoke the need to restrict its citizens' access to gambling services if at the same time it encourages them to participate in state lotteries, games of chance or betting that benefit the state's finances.

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