European Parliament votes on new Anti-Money laundering directive

Today, the European Parliament adopted amendments to the European Commission’s proposal for a new Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD). The RGA strongly supports the objectives of the new Directive, but is disappointed that online gambling has been singled out as the one form of gambling where due diligence measures might have to be applied to all customers as soon as a business relationship is established. This runs completely counter to the risk-based approach that has always been a key principle of successive AMLDs.

Following this vote, the European Parliament’s position would require online gambling operators to conduct due diligence as of the establishment of the business relationship with their customers. This requirement conflicts with the spirit of the Commission’s proposal and the previous Directives. In practice it could well mean that the online gambling industry will be compelled to conduct due diligence on every one of its customers.

Today’s vote, however, is unlikely to be the final chapter in proceedings because the EU Council may well reject the positions of the European Parliament on a number of critical issues, including some of the gambling provisions. Therefore, a second reading and further negotiations are expected to take place after the European elections.

Clive Hawkswood, the RGA’s Chief Executive, said that “It is very difficult to see how an objective review of the facts, including the success of the Third AMLD in combatting money laundering, could have led Parliament to this conclusion. The licensed online gambling sector has highly developed tools for identifying possible threats and has an excellent record in preventing money laundering. As an industry we are never complacent, but quite simply there is no justification for singling out our sector for this kind of treatment.

We have consistently supported a risk-based approach, which we consider to be the most suitable manner to tackle any problems and, of course, individual Member States can introduce additional measures if there are specific issues within their jurisdictions.

We hope now that the EU Council will reject the Parliament’s position on this issue and that the European Commission will defend its original stance.“