The European Commission has set out its new action plan for online gambling. In a Communication entitled 'Towards a comprehensive European framework for online gambling', the Commission identifies the key challenges arising from the co-existence of differing national regulatory frameworks for online gambling within the Internal Market and draws from the themes highlighted in the Commission's Green Paper which was launched in March 2011 and in the Creutzman report.
The Commission's action plan stops short of proposing EU-wide legislation but does represent a step forward in creating greater clarity for gambling consumers, operators and retailers alike. Operator trade associations such as the Remote Gambling Association ("RGA") and the European Gambling and Betting Association ("EGBA") have welcomed the Commission's plans, seeing them as a move in the right direction for online gambling regulation.
The European online-gambling market is continuously growing. The European Commission estimates annual growth rates of almost 15% and an estimated €13 billion in annual revenues in 2015 with 6.8 million consumers participating in one or more types of online gambling.
European States have reacted to this market with a wide variety of regulatory frameworks. This range of regulatory authorities is disliked by the European Commission, an organization which fights for consistency in the marketplace.
According to European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier, the primary objectives of the action plan are that "consumers must be adequately protected, money laundering and fraud must be prevented, sport must be safeguarded against betting-related match-fixing and national rules must comply with EU law."
Barnier wants to facilitate exchanges of experience on regulation between Member States. In December 2012 he will organise a meeting between the Member States and a newly installed expert group, followed by a stakeholder conference in 2013.