EU countries showed their division up to the possibility to create a common games of chance regulation. The United Kingdom, Austria and Malta are the ones that showed more opposition, unlike others like Spain, that suggested to keep on working on the matter.
Countries in favor of harmonizing national legislations emphasized in the need to continue analyzing the particular features of the sector during the two semesters of the Czech and Sweden government of the EU, according to diplomatic sources.
They remarked that it is a sector that includes delicate factors such as underage protection, and it is also an important source of incomes. National legislation differs a lot depending on the different members, so, while countries such as France, Germany or Italy, games of chance are forbidden and subject to specific authorization, in other countries, the law is more open.
This is the main obstacle to overcome, as it’s been said by the Council of Competitiveness (Inner Market, Industry and Investigation) held today in Brussels.
Besides, several delegations alleged that there are ten cases related to games of chance that are being studied by the EU Court of Justice, and that the beginning of negotiations for a European legislation could interfere in the process, according to EU sources.
The same sources said that the European Commission –which had tried to include this aspect in the „Bolkenstein“ regulation for the EU services, did not show any intention to present a proposal on the matter in the short term.
With regards to Internet games of chance, there are six nations that prohibit them completely- Cyprus, Germany, Estonia, Greece, the Netherlands and Poland-, and other that do not ban it, but show more restrictions than with other modalities.
According to the market structure, most of the countries apply different norms for different segments of the sector (lotteries, sportsbooks, horse racing, casinos, bingos). Lotteries usually depend on monopolies or entities that have exclusive rights, while for betting, the most frequent procedure is to grant licenses.
So far, problems connected to games of chance and bets have been solved in each country, however, the current EU government thinks that they have to agree on common principles, in particular, in everything related to the control, which would simplify the operation of the inner market.
While there is a lack of harmony in the sector, each country will keep on having freedom (within EU norms) to regulate the gaming and betting activity.