European policymakers and operators are considering introducing legislation in 2012 that would govern the online gambling market in the European Union.
Online gambling in Europe is a fast developing business and is the fastest growing segment of gambling services, with annual revenues exceeding 6 billion (7,5% of the total gambling market revenue). Regulation of online gambling in the EU currently varies widely, ranging from liberal markets in some states to outright bans in others.
Following a consultation on the issue, the European Commission is examining whether to regulate online gambling and how the differing models of regulations already in use by Member States can coexist within a single market. The important issues that need to be addressed are consumer protection and the protection of minors in connection with the promotion of online gambling and customer identification, the prevention of fraud and money laundering, and the cross-border cooperation in the prevention of illegal online gambling.
While the gambling industry expressed concerns about the ability of regulators to regulate the online gambling market, it nevertheless welcomed the possible introduction of EU-wide legislation, as the current absence of EU legislation has given rise to several problems in connection with access to national markets. In reaction to the issue of prohibiting access to a market, the European Court of Justice in June 2010 ruled that countries can ban online gambling without infringing Article 49 of the EU Treaty guaranteeing the free movement of services if the ban in question is imposed in order to combat fraud.
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