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European Commission Ends Online Gambling Infringement Cases
The European Commission, the branch of the European Union charged with enforcing the European single market, has announced it will no longer pursue claims that the market is being violated in the gambling sector.
“In line with its political commitment to be more strategic in enforcing EU law, the European Commission has today decided to close its infringement procedures and the treatment of complaints in the area of gambling,” the Commission stated in a press release.
Free Competition Principles Discarded
The idea of a single, unfettered market throughout Europe is one of the foundational principles of the EU. Its purpose is to ensure that no country sets up protectionist barriers in favor of their own national interests — barriers that can harm businesses and consumers alike.
These unlawful practices are already undertaken by EU national governments every day. Now, the indifference of the Commission to them threatens to make what is right now a nuisance into a full blown problem.
In speaking out against the decision, the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) stressed that the ongoing presence of such cases before the Commission proves the problem is real and needs attention.
“The current laws and regulations that unfairly restrict or bar online gambling in many EU Member States represent blatant breaches of EU law. This is what led to the significant number of complaints and the European Commission’s decisions to open a range of individual infringement proceedings,” the RGA said in a statement.
Un-regulated Casinos Could Now Flood The European Market
The announcement that it would be abandoned in the gambling industry sent shockwaves through the online casino community. It presents the specter of operators having to negotiate through even more restrictive legislative regimes than they are already subjected to.
The European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) came out especially forcefully against the decision. It gave special emphasis to the possibility of non-European operators entering markets where regulatory compliance for lawful operators would be extremely expensive.
“Today’s decision by the Commission is unhelpful in the fight against unregulated non-EU gambling services,” said EGBA Secretary General Maarten Haijer.
In Canada, the fear is that the increased costs of decentralized regulatory schemes — not to mention the outright ejection from markets — could be passed on to Canadian players.